Here’s exactly what to pack in a diaper bag

Diaper bags. They seem to be these mystical, Mary Poppins-esque things that only seasoned moms know about but that must be packed perfectly to succeed at parenting. Woah! The pressure!

But, take it from me: you’ve got this. Your diaper bag can be whatever the f*ck you need or want it to be (easy), and there are only a few essentials that always need to be in there (which we’re going to list out here). So, new mama, let’s talk about how diaper bags work, and what to put in a diaper bag.

How diaper bags work

A baby diaper bag is basically a bag filled with items you might need to care for your baby on the go.  

It can be a designated “diaper bag” (e.g., as a baby store would call them), or any other vessel into which you can cram diapers, wipes, and more (e.g., a Louis Vuitton Neverfull tote, if you so desire). And – plot twist – you can have more than one: I have a big diaper bag for longer trips (say, a day at the mall) and a smaller sack-type thing that I can hurl under the stroller for quick trips (say, an afternoon at the local park).  

On this last point, you usually take a diaper bag with you whenever you leave the house with your baby. Though if you’re only taking a short trip to the cafe around the corner for a takeaway coffee, you’re probably ok to leave that bad boy at home.

What goes in a diaper bag

No matter where you’re going, what you’re doing, and for how long, your diaper bag should always have the following in it (trust me, I’ve learned from experience):

  • Spare diapers. I always have about four to five lurking in there, just in case. And I replenish them when I get home if any were used while I was out (honestly, you find yourself covered in poop at a restaurant with no spare diapers once, and you don’t make the mistake again).

  • Changing pad. Because where you’re going might not have one, or it might not be super clean if it’s in a public space (ew).

  • Baby wipes. To clean up poop, vomit, or any other unidentifiable liquid on the run.

  • Disposable diaper bags. For containing the mess. Try to get scented ones if you can (it helps).

  • Diaper ointment. Especially if your babe is going through a bout of diaper rash.

  • A change of clothes. For your baby. Because accidents can happen, and they can be messy (and stinky AF).

  • Medications. Any that your baby needs on the ‘reg.

  • Hand sanitizer. Because of Covid, y’all. And also because of human poop. Enough said.

  • Snacks and water. For you. Some might argue these aren’t essential. I’m going to say they are. You don’t want to be covered in poop and dealing with a screaming baby while strangers are staring at you and be hungry or thirsty. That’s a disaster. 

And, again, depending on where you’re going, what you’re doing, and for how long, your baby’s diaper bag might also contain the following: 

  • An insulated bottle bag. For taking breastmilk out and about, if you’ll need to feed on the go.

  • A formula dispenser. Keep that formula tidy and easy to get into the bottle, mama.

  • Spare bottles. You never know.

  • A container with snacks and a sippy cup. Particularly if your kiddo has started solids.

  • A swaddle. Or five, in my case. You can use swaddles to shelter your babe from the sun, to lay out on the grass for a play, to cover up while feeding. And to wipe up unidentifiable liquids, if need be.

  • A wide-brimmed hat. For your little one. Because sun protection is vital.

  • Sunscreen. Once your baby is six months or over, you can use sunscreen on their skin. Again… because sun protection is a must.

  • Spare pacifiers. Especially if your baby uses one to calm down, fall asleep, or generally get through the day (and night).

  • Toys. These will buy you extra time out of the house and help keep your little one happy. If they’re teething, a teether toy is a must.

Finally, if you’ve got the space, you might include a few must-haves for you, mama bear, like:

  • A spare shirt. Your top half is likely to be the target of most poop/vomit accidents.

  • Breastpads. If your breastmilk supply is still regulating and you’re prone to leaks.

  • Lip balm and hand cream. Because dry hands and lips are the pits.

  • A wide-brimmed hat. Sun safety isn’t just for kids, girl.

Upon reading all this, you might wonder how to organize a diaper bag? Well, if using a dedicated diaper bag, it will have pockets, compartments, and little slots for little things galore. If using a tote bag, for example, you can buy diaper bag organizers that help keep things tidy and easy to find. 

Ultimately, the best diaper bag and its contents is the one that suits you and your baby’s needs and your habits the most. If you don’t tend to venture far from home and your babe is a tidy pooper (the dream), you might fit what you need in a clutch purse. Whatever the case, lean into diaper bag life, mama – it’ll be a lifesaver when you least expect it. 

Read next: How to travel with your baby

Make motherhood easier, with Mumli.

Discover, share, and save everything you need in one place.