Diaper Bag Essentials
A complete list of diaper bag essentials and nice-haves.
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How to choose the right diaper bag:
There are so many cute diaper bags. They come in all different styles and sizes. You can choose from tote diaper bags, crossbody diaper bags, or backpack diaper bags. So how do you choose the right diaper bag? First, find one that gives you plenty of space for the necessities and anything else you may want to carry around. Check out our diaper bag checklist below to get an idea of everything you might need to pack. If you plan to place your purse items in your diaper bag, you'll want to make sure there is enough room for your stuff too. I preferred using the diaper bag as my purse for the first few months. It was one less thing to worry about.
Secondly, look for a diaper that is durable. If you plan to use your diaper bag a lot, it will be worth investing in a well-made diaper bag that will last some time. Also, look for one that is easy to clean. From leaky bottles to dirty diapers, your bag is likely to get dirty. Some diaper bags come with anti-bacterial lining, making them easy to wipe out.
Thirdly, consider versatility or sharability. If you plan to share your bag with a spouse or caregiver, consider what style will work the best for them as well.
Lastly, find a bag that is comfortable and easy to carry around. Personally, I really liked the look of a tote diaper bag but ultimately, the backpack diaper bag ended up being a lot easier to carry around. I purchased a Ju-Ju Be diaper bag. It was definitely pricier than other brands but it has held up great! I've been using it for three years now and it still looks new!
Changing Pads: If your diaper bag doesn't already have a changing pad, you'll want to purchase one that easily fits into your diaper bag. Look for one that is cushioned, waterproof and easy to clean. An adjustable strap is a nice-to-have feature so you can hang it from your wrist, stroller or car seat when you don't want to carry your entire diaper bag.
Tip: One of my least favorite things is having to change my son in a public bathroom. He is always trying to touch everything. Yuck! Who knows what kind of mess has happened on that changing table beforehand. Changing pads such as this one are great because you can wrap it around your baby to help keep their curious hands occupied.
I also keep some disposable changing pads in my diaper bag just in case I need something larger to cover up the area or I have a blowout that is going to be really messy. Then once I am done, I can just toss the whole changing pad into the trash. You can also keep an extra towel or blanket in your diaper bag or car to use instead of a disposable changing pad.
Wipe Holder: If your diaper bag or changing pad do not come with a wipe holder, I would recommend buying a lightweight one. A full pack of wipes can get really heavy. I am not a fan of the hardcover wipe holders, I prefer ones that can expand easily such as these. Alternatively, you can buy travel packs of wipes but they are typically more expensive than buying wipes in larger packaging.
Trash Bags: Small trash bags are great to have in your diaper bag and car for messes and dirty diapers. In the past, I used Munchkin Diaper Bags but recently I decided to switch to a biodegradable, eco-friendly trash bag. My two favorite bags so far are the Hathaway Diaper Trash Bags and MOM Easy Diaper Sacks. You get more bags for your money with the Hathaway Diaper Trash Bags but if you prefer the convenience of a compact roll of trash bags with a holder, MOM Easy Diaper Sacks are a great option.
Wet Bags: A lot of moms suggest carrying Ziploc bags in your diaper bag for spoiled clothing or dirty cloth diapers. I recommend using wet bags instead. They can easily be cleaned in the wash and used over and over. As your child grows, you can use a wet bag for wet swimsuits and wet clothes from playing outside or from potty training.
Another mom suggested that she uses her wet bags to store used pump parts. She rinses the parts and then stores them in the bag in the refrigerator until she is able to take them home and wash them. I thought this was a great idea!
Diaper Bag Organizers
Diaper Bag Organizers: Again you can use Ziploc's or wet bags to keep things organized if your diaper bag does not have compartments for everything. You can also purchase diaper bag organizers or travel organizers to keep everything organized.
Diaper Bag Checklist
Now it is time to pack your diaper bag. Your checklist will be different depending on what your baby needs/likes, the weather, what activities you are going to, and your feeding routine. Below are my basic suggestions. Please visit our Diapering Essentials, Baby Care Essentials, and Feeding Essentials pages for more helpful information and tips.
Diapers: Start with 1-2 diapers for every hour you plan to be out. Plus maybe an extra 1 or two. As your baby grows you'll be able to better determine how many diapers your baby goes through for a given period of time. Generally, I always kept a minimum of 5 diapers in my diaper bag.
Wipes: Make sure your wipe pouch is full.
Diaper rash cream (if needed)
Trash bags/Wet bag
A small bottle of hand sanitizer: I suggest using one that is alcohol-free. This is my favorite hand sanitizer.
Change of clothes: Depending on how long you plan to be out and if you deal with diaper leaks, you may want 1 or more changes of clothes. I usually keep one in the diaper bag and one if the car just as another backup.
Pacifiers and pacifier holders
Bottle and formula (if you are bottle feeding)
Nursing Cover (if you are breastfeeding)
Hat for cold or sunny weather
Sunscreen: Sunscreen is not suggested until your baby is 6 months or older. Once your baby is 6 months or older, ThinkBaby offers a great safe and effective sunscreen.