Being a new parent is tough. There’s no perfect guide book or secret lesson you can follow to get all the answers right. No matter how much you prepare and research you do, the truth is, there are some things that you just have to learn as you go. A prime example is knowing what to pack in a diaper bag. While there are some obvious baby items that all new moms should know to include, there are also some not-so-obvious things that may come in handy.
Our experts at JuJuBe have created this guide to give new parents an extra hand when it comes to learning what to pack in a diaper bag! At the end of the day, learning how to pack a diaper bag will not only keep you organized but will also help you stay prepared for any baby situation.
If you’re a new parent, this diaper bag checklist will serve as the perfect reference for all your diaper bag needs. Once you’ve stocked up on these items, you’ll be prepared for any situation!
Tips for Choosing the Right Diaper Bag
Sometimes you don’t get to choose your baby diaper bag, as it may have been chosen for you as a gift. That doesn’t mean you can’t return it and get something else that’s better suited for you - it’s important that you have a diaper bag you truly love since you’ll most likely be using it every day!
Each parent will have his/her own unique preference of style. Some parents may want a bag that doesn’t “look” like a diaper bag and appears more stylish, while others may prefer something that’s meant for function and organization. Whatever your preference, make sure you have the space you need to pack your essentials. If you discover that a specific diaper bag doesn’t really do the job for you, don’t be afraid to try other bags and totes of different sizes. For example, some parents might find a backpack diaper bag works best and others may gravitate toward a purse style.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s great to invest in different sizes of diaper bags. Two key bags to have are a larger size for longer excursions and a smaller bag for quick trips. It will be helpful to have different sizes because you don’t need to pack everything for a quick trip to the grocery store, and similarly, there’s no need to overstuff your everyday bag for longer trips.
An additional key to your search is to look for a diaper bag with multiple compartments to help you stay organized. Different pouches, zippers and pockets will help you find a designated place for each of your items so you’ll always know where to find what you need. If you want further organization within the pockets or are going for more of a DIY approach, a small stack of plastic bags and a marker can also be a lifesaver.
What to Pack in a Diaper Bag
Now that you’ve found your diaper bag, the next step is packing it! The contents of your diaper bag will change over time as your little one gets older, but there are a few essential items that will be useful for every age. Below are a few of the top items that you won’t want to leave home without.
You might think this one should go without saying. After all, it’s called a diaper bag for a reason, right? However, our list really wouldn’t be complete without diapers on it.
The most important thing to consider here is quantity. Newborns will need a lot more diaper changes than a toddler will, so that should influence how many diapers you pack.
When it comes to packing the diapers, you want it all to fit without feeling as though you’re toting an extra kid on your shoulder. A good rule of thumb is to pack as many diapers as hours you expect to be gone, with maybe one or two extra, just in case. With most babies, you might make a diaper change every two hours or so. That leaves you with plenty of spares for unexpected accidents.
It can be tempting to just carry a travel pack of wipes in your diaper bag, but we highly recommend you carry a full pack. The last thing you ever want as a new parent is to run out of wipes in the middle of a diaper change.
You can throw in a travel size pack as well for quick trips to the bathroom, but make sure your diaper bag is fully stocked. If you don’t have a travel size with you and don’t want to bring a heavy pack, put a few wipes in a ziploc bag for on-the-go convenience.
A Changing Pad
A changing pad is great for quick diaper changes while on the road. Most diaper bags come with a changing pad already, however, you can always swap it out or throw in an extra one as a backup too.
Baby Garbage Bags
Baby garbage bags are another essential when choosing what to put in a diaper bag. Diaper changes are messy and stinky, and you may not always have a trash can nearby. Baby garbage bags help contain odors of soiled clothes and blankets long enough for you to properly dispose of them.
Spare Clothes and Diaper Rash Cream
These are also items that should go without saying but are necessary to include on a list of essentials. Babies are inherently messy and it’s inevitable that clothes will get soiled at one time or another. Always pack at least one spare outfit in your diaper bag for such situations.
If you know your little one is especially prone to accidents, you might want to consider packing a couple different outfits. Onesies are great as emergency-wear since they are fairly small and you can pack a few without taking up too much space.
It’s also always a good idea to have a small tube of diaper cream on hand, along with a small shaker of baby powder. Even if your baby’s bottom isn’t currently irritated, it’s a common problem and it’s better to be overprepared.
Burp Cloths and a Bib
As you already know, babies can be messy. To help with this, be sure to pack burp cloths in your diaper bag so you’re ready for any clean up after feeding. We recommend packing at least two to three for the day, or even throwing in an extra one if your baby is prone to mess-making. To keep your baby’s clothes clean and drool-free, make sure to also keep a bib on hand like our Be Neat, and take advantage of those extra wipes!
The necessary feeding gear will vary depending on whether you’re formula feeding your child or breastfeeding.
For formula feeding, make sure you pack enough to last the day. You can pre-fill a couple baby bottles or use a specially designed dispenser to ensure you have enough formula. If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll have less to pack. However, make sure to pack spare breast pads and nipple ointment for yourself.
If you pump, pack bottles with milk ready to go. Make sure you include an ice pack and use a pocket that’s insulated.
If your child is older, then you’ll need to pack baby food and any snacks for munching throughout the day. Other necessities you’ll want to include are a baby spoon, a sippy cup, and maybe even a juice pouch or water bottle.
Blanket and Pacifier
Always keep a small blanket in your diaper bag in case the weather changes on you. Aside from providing warmth, blankets can also serve as a cover when you’re breastfeeding, a changing pad, or even bedding for naptime!
Another trick to comforting your baby is using a pacifier. If your little one hasn’t already picked out a favorite pacifier, try packing a few different ones until you find a winner.
Non-Essential Items for Your Diaper Bag
Trying to decide what goes in a diaper bag is easy when it comes to the basics, but what you pack beyond those will depend on personal preference. Make sure you plan ahead so you can pack accordingly.
There are a lot of baby accessories to choose from. Here are some of our favorites:
Items for Mom
Now that you have everything you need to take care of your baby in any situation, make sure you don’t forget about yourself! Think of your diaper bag as a purse for both you and your baby. Things like your wallet, keys, and cell phone are just a few diaper bag essentials to always have readily available. You can also throw in a pair of sunglasses, gum, or a water bottle.
What goes in a diaper bag ultimately comes down to your preferences and what you need for your baby. Every baby is different, every mom is different, every family is different. Once you pack the essentials, all else is merely optional.
Don’t know which diaper bag is right for you? Check out our diaper bag buying guide for all our top tips!