A well-stocked diaper bag can save the day. From supplies for unexpected baby diaper blowouts to snacks and distractions for cranky toddlers, your diaper bag will become an important part of your daily life.
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Diaper bag essentials
What you need to know
You'll probably be bringing a diaper bag wherever you and your baby go. But what do you really need in there? It depends on how old your child is, how long you'll be out, where you're going, and how prepared you like to be. When packing your bag, it's helpful to think about different scenarios you may encounter while out with your baby and what you would need to solve them. Think of it as your Mary Poppins bag.
What to pack in your diaper bag
Along with the products below, consider packing:
- Baby nail clippers: You never know when your little one will doze off and give you the perfect opportunity to clip those tiny nails.
- Breast pads for nursing moms: Slip these in your bag – and then your bra – to absorb breast-milk leaks.
- Nursing cover: For privacy when you're breastfeeding in public
- Insulated cooler bags: To keep bottles warm, or sippy cups and snacks cold
- Sling or wrap for carrying your baby: Even if you're heading out with a stroller, you may prefer to park it and transfer your baby to a hands-free carrier if you're heading into someplace crowded.
- Bibs: If you're planning to give your older baby or toddler a snack or meal, bring a few washable bibs.
- Toys, board books, and crayons and coloring pages or paper: Choose toys based on your outing and your child's age. A toddler going to a restaurant often requires a lot of entertaining distractions, while a 4-month-old may be happy with one rattle.
- First-aid supplies: It's good to have some adhesive bandages and other items just in case.
- Disinfectant wipes
If you're not carrying a separate bag, make sure to pack your essentials, too! These may include:
- Snacks, mints, or gum
- Bottle of water or other drink
- New shirt in case of spit-up or a spill
If you pack too light, you may end up missing something like an extra shirt for yourself when your baby spits up on you. Pack too much and your "go everywhere bag" becomes like a suitcase, making it hard to handle when carrying your baby or an infant car seat.
From essentials to extras to how to choose the diaper bag itself, we have you covered.
Diapers are essential!
Diapers are a must, and Target's Up&Up store brand are both affordable and reliably absorbent. (Of course, bring whichever brand you're comfortable with.) Pack one diaper for each hour you'll be out, plus a few extras.
Available at Target starting at $21.99
Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes
Gentle and fragrance-free
You'll always want to have a pack of baby wipes nearby, not just for diaper changes but also for wiping up messes and sticky little hands. Parents love Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes, which are extra-large, gentle, and fragrance-free. The only downside is that like all things from Costco, the packs are big and relatively heavy. You can always pull out a smaller number of wipes and stick them in a bag to bring with you.
Available at Costco starting at $19.99
Skip Hop Pronto Signature Portable Changing Mat
All your must-haves in one small package
This changing pad is genius because it's an all-in-one solution: it includes zippered compartments for diapers and other essentials, a holder for wipes, and a zip-off changing pad. When you're taking your baby on a short outing, you can clip this onto your stroller and leave the bulky diaper bag behind.
Available at Amazon starting at $17.79
Munchkin Arm & Hammer Diaper Bags and Dispenser
For containing messes
It's helpful to have a few plastic bags or reusable wet bags for soiled diapers and clothes when you're out and about. This bag dispenser from Munchkin clips on to your diaper bag or stroller. The bags are lavender scented and infused with baking soda to help contain smells.
Available at Amazon starting at $5
Evenflo Feeding Classic Clear Plastic Bottles
Simple and easy to hold
There are many, many bottle options, and you'll have to research and experiment to choose the ones that work best for you and your baby. But if you're bottle-feeding on the go, this classic Evenflo bottle is nice and simple. It has just three parts to assemble and the ergonomic shape is twisted to help your baby hold on.
Available at Amazon starting at $12.53 for a 12-pack
Nuk Learner Cup
A bridge from bottle to cup
As your baby grows, you'll find yourself packing baby-food pouches, finger foods, utensils, and sippy cups in your diaper bag. The NUK Learner Cup has a soft spout that's helpful for little ones transitioning from a bottle to a cup. We like the spill-proof top and the removable easy-grip handles.
Available at buybuy BABY starting at $7.99
Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Blanket
Beautiful and useful
A swaddling blanket is the Swiss Army knife of baby products. You can use it to cover your baby, of course, but also as a changing pad, nursing cover, bib, shade, or burp cloth. We love this soft blanket because it's made of breathable muslin and rolls up nice and tight to fit in your bag. If you need pointers on technique, see our article Swaddling your baby.
Available at Amazon starting at $16
Modern Moments by Gerber
Cute and comfy coveralls
You never know when spit-up, drool, spills, or poop explosions will necessitate a change of clothing. Keep it simple and pack an extra bodysuit or sleeper, depending on the time of year. These coveralls by Gerber come in packs of two and are affordable, durable, and easy to throw into a bag. Plus, they're made of comfy organic cotton.
Available at Walmart starting at $13.88 for a 2-pack
Philips Avent Soothie Pacifier
Easy soothing on the go
If your baby likes pacifiers, bring a few extras. The Philips Avent Soothie is the choice of many hospitals for calming and soothing babies, and the pacifiers are BPA-free and dishwasher safe. They're also sold at most pharmacies and grocery stores, so they're easy to find when you realize you've lost the last one. Conflicted over whether to give your baby a pacifier? See our article Pacifiers: Pros, cons, and smart ways to use them for help.
Available at Target starting at $3.69 for a 2-pack
Baby Bum Sunscreen Face Stick SPF 50+
Serious sun protection
When your baby is younger than 6 months old, cover vulnerable skin with clothing and a hat, or keep him or her out of the sun altogether. When that's not possible, or when your baby is older, use a "physical" or "all mineral active ingredient" sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium oxide, with 50 or more SPF. We like the Baby Bum Travel-Size Sunscreen Stick, which glides on smoothly and is the perfect size to put in your diaper bag.
Available at Amazon starting at $9.97
Boudreaux's Butt Paste
Non-greasy diaper rash cream
Boudreaux's Butt Paste is a great all-around diaper rash cream. It's thick, yet easy to apply, and doesn't leave your hands or your baby's bottom greasy. Boudreaux's comes in several intensity levels – original, extra-strength, with aloe, and formulated for sensitive skin – so there's likely to be one that can keep diaper rash at bay or soothe irritation.
Available at Amazon starting at $7.38