There’s an art to packing the perfect diaper bag…
On one hand, you want to be prepared for anything.
On the other, if you pack too much, you’re going to look at your diaper bag with dread every time you leave the house.
Keep reading for a checklist of all of my diaper bag essentials with ideas for how to keep things light and portable.
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The essentials: what to pack in your diaper bag for babies 0-6 months
Get a changing pad like this one. It’s basic and not bulky.
Or, for a true space saver that’s the perfect travel item, pack a couple of these these disposable ones.
(Not environmentally friendly, so use sparingly!)
Pack 1-2 diapers for each hour you’ll be out. I’m all about the Pampers Swaddlers.
Reduce bulk in your diaper bag by keeping a few emergency diapers in your car and stroller.
The easiest, cheapest, and least bulky wipe holder for a diaper bag is a Ziploc bag.
Just pull a bunch of wipes out of a normal pack and stick them in a sandwich sized baggie.
If you’d prefer a wipe case for your diaper bag, grab this top rated wipes dispenser.
It’s always good to have a small tube of diaper rash ointment with you, particularly if your baby is prone to diaper rashes (mine thankfully is not!).
These mini Aquaphor tubes are unscented and are also my go-to for face rashes.
I’ve been a hoarder of hand sanitizer ever since I can remember. I keep a mini bottle in the diaper bag, another in the stroller, and a big one in the car.
In case you couldn’t tell from the photo above, I’m all about the baggies.
They’re perfect if you can’t get to a trash bin right away and have to carry around a poopy diaper. They do a great job at containing the stink. Get the gallon size.
Alternatively, you can use poop bags made for dogs. (Again, not environmentally friendly so use only if necessary!)
I pack at least one in my diaper bag. I also keep a bunch in my car to minimize weight and bulk in my diaper bag.
Someone recommended these to me as a cheaper alternative to actual ‘burp cloths’ and they’re the best. They’re absorbent and I love that they’re plain white.
We own 2 packs of them and I’ll never use anything else!
Even if you have a pacifier clip, some how, some way, the pacifier ends up on the ground. So pack a couple. I store them in a mini Ziploc so they stay clean.
Change of clothes
I keep one of Aden’s long sleeved rompers in my diaper bag at all times. It rolls up really small and hardly takes up any space.
I also keep a few spare outfits in the car (this is the perfect use for gifts that you don’t love).
One great tip here is to size up on the outfit you pack. It’s really easy to forget to swap it out as your baby gets bigger.
Baby socks are notorious for falling off so it’s nice to have an extra pair. Plus, they hardly take up any room in the diaper bag, so why not!
P.S. If you need newborn-sized socks that miraculously don’t fall off, I found these socks that I highly recommend!
The uses for a muslin blanket are endless… nursing cover, burp cloth, stroller cover, somewhere to lie baby down, and of course warmth! I particularly love muslin blankets because they’re lightweight and roll up really small.
One of my favorite mom hacks is packing a couple of pre-filled 2-oz bottles of formula when I don’t know how long I’ll be out. As long as they stay at room temperature, you don’t have to worry about the milk spoiling until you break the seal.
Make sure you get the nipples, they’re sold separately.
If you’re finding this list of diaper bag essentials helpful so far, post it in your due date group!
Other useful items to pack in your diaper bag
Now that we’ve covered the diaper bag essentials, here are a few additions depending on whether you’re breastfeeding, the age of your baby, the length of your outing, the weather, and other changing circumstances.
A light weight hat
This little hat is the best one I’ve ever bought. It’s silky soft, stretchy, and fit Aden perfectly from about 1 month through 7+ months.
Snacks for mom
Breastfeeding makes you hungry! I bought protein bars in bulk and stashed a few in my diaper bag, a few in the car, and a whole bunch in my breastfeeding station at home.
These are my all-time favorite protein bars. Low carb, high protein, SUPER delicious. I have them on auto-ship.
Portable phone charger
If you’re taking pictures of your baby every 2 seconds like I do, your phone battery will drain quickly. Stick a portable charger in your diaper bag just in case.
I have this mini one and it’s great! (Don’t forget a cable.)
Change of clothes for you
It’s not the worst idea to pack an extra shirt for yourself, particularly if your baby is prone to spitting up or having diaper blow outs. This is also something you can keep in the car to minimize bulk in your diaper bag.
If you’re bringing along breastmilk or formula, get yourself this genius cooler that goes directly in the freezer. No icepacks needed!
They come in all different sizes so get a small one if it’s going in your diaper bag.
Portable sound machine
This thing is great if white noise or lullabies are calming to your baby. White noise always worked like a charm when Aden was screaming in the car. I love that it’s wireless and rechargeable.
It’s a little bulky to carry around in a diaper bag (though, doable) so you could also keep it in the car or stroller.
Teethers or toys
Once your baby hits around 4 or 5 months and starts to use his hands for things, he might enjoy having something to gnaw at while you’re out and about.
This ice cream teether is the cutest one I’ve ever seen.
Any teether with a hole in it is great so you can attach a pacifier clip or plastic links to keep it from falling.
Miscellaneous mom/dad stuff!
The diaper bag becomes your purse. Keep an emergency tampon, cash, a chapstick and whatever else you normally carry around with you.
Diaper bag essentials for traveling
This list will change depending on the length of your trip and whether you’re traveling by car or by plane. For the most part, you will just want to bring extras of the items listed above.
You can read my in-depth article for a full packing list: Flying with an Infant During the Pandemic
I’ll call special attention to a few things you should definitely pack in your diaper bag for travel…
- Disposable changing pads (airplane bathrooms are gross!)
- Disinfecting wipes to clean your seat, tray table, screen, and everything in between.
- Drool bibs to keep your baby’s outfit dry (much easier to swap out the bib instead of the whole outfit). Here are great traditional bibs for small babies… and of course these bandana bibs are my personal fave!
- Extra baggies. Every time something falls onto the floor, put it into a “dirty” bag so it doesn’t contaminate all your other stuff.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to diaper bag essentials
What are the diaper bag essentials for dad?
The vast majority of what belongs in a diaper bag has to do with what the BABY needs—therefore, the lists above work for mom, dad, and all other caregivers too!
The only real change would be if the baby is breastfed, which just means that dad needs to remember to pack extra milk.
What kind of diaper bag should you get?
Here are my 2 tips:
1 – Get a backpack. It’s SO much less awkward than a shoulder bag, especially when you’ve got your hands full or you’re baby-wearing.
2 – It doesn’t necessarily have to be a “diaper bag.” My diaper bag is a Valentino backpack. (Yes, I know I’m crazy).
Most of the time, my hair is a mess, I’m wearing sweatpants, and I’m covered in spit up… so the classy backpack makes me feel a little bit better about myself. #momlife
If you’re thinking of using a backpack as a diaper bag, go for it! The only real differences are that ‘actual’ diaper bags tend to have more pockets, some of which may be insulated.
I didn’t feel I needed these, but this is a personal choice.
If you’re looking for an actual diaper bag, here are the main features to consider:
- Number of pockets
- Number of insulated pockets for bottles
- Waterproof or water resistant
- How easy it is to clean
- Capacity and dimensions
- Backpack vs. shoulder strap
- Appearance (lots of moms prefer something that doesn’t look like a diaper bag because they use it as their purse even when they’re not with their baby)
- Gender neutral if dad will be carrying it (and he cares)
What are the best leopard diaper bags?
If you’re looking for an animal print diaper bag, you can either get a true “diaper bag” or a regular bag.
Depending on your lifestyle and the type (and length) of your outings, you may not need special insulated pockets, which means you can easily get away with a non-diaper bag.
Let’s take a look at some fun leopard diaper bag (and non-diaper bag) options…
Why it’s great:
- Backpacks make awesome diaper bags. This one even has adjustable padded straps!
- It’s very lightweight and folds up nicely for storage or travel.
- It has 4 compartments to organize baby’s stuff.
Why it’s great:
- This one’s an actual diaper bag, which means it has built-in insulated pockets. It holds 3 bottles of milk.
- It has a whopping 15 pockets for organization!
- It easily wipes clean.
Why it’s great:
- It’s very large and holds a lot, much more than most diaper bags.
- It has a wet compartment to hold dirty baby clothes and burp cloths.
- There are several pockets and sections for organization. There’s a divider down the middle and each side zips at the top. There are 2 small inside pockets and 5 outside pockets.
4) Leopard diaper bag backpack
Why it’s great:
- It has 14 pockets, including 3 insulated ones, 2 waterproof, 2 elastic, and 1 anti-theft.
- It’s easy to wipe clean.
- Comes with a key holder, an extra insulated pocket, a changing pad, and 2 stroller straps.
What are the best camo diaper bags?
A camouflage diaper bag is a great choice, especially if mom and dad are sharing it. It’s trendy for mom and non-girly for dad. Win win!
Camo diaper bags come in backpacks, totes, and hybrids. You can get an “official” diaper bag that comes with insulated pockets — or you can get a regular bag with lots of sections for organization. Let’s take a look at the best options for a camo diaper bag…
1) Camo print diaper tote bag
Why it’s great:
- It has 16 pockets, 3 of which are insulated for baby bottles.
- Comes with a portable changing pad.
- It has 2 stroller straps and a removable cross body strap.
2) Unisex camo diaper bag backpack
Why it’s great:
- Gender neutral design. Dad won’t mind carrying this one around!
- Durable canvas material.
- Has 1 main section, 6 small storage pockets, 2 side pockets, 1 front zipper pocket, 1 rear zipper pocket, and 1 anti-theft side zipper strap.
3) Camo diaper bag tote
Why it’s great:
- Super light weight.
- Has an adjustable strap so it can be used as a tote bag or a crossbody bag.
- Has a large front pocket with a magnetic closure, two outer pockets, two interior elastic pockets, an interior zipper pocket and two easy access slip pockets.
Why it’s great:
- It’s made out of waterproof material.
- It has 2 insulated bottle pockets and several additional storage pockets.
- It’s extremely high quality. Check out the amazing reviews!
5) 3 way convertible camo diaper tote
Why it’s great:
- The straps can be positioned in 3 different ways: as a short tote, a long shoulder bag, and a cross-body bag. PLUS it can be worn as a backpack!
- Has 2 insulated bottle pockets and several storage pockets.
- Comes with a changing pad.
Additional diaper bag recommendations
Here are a few suggestions from other moms!
Itzy Ritzy was a common favorite in all of my mom groups. Clearly this one’s popular… 4.8 stars with 1,180+ ratings on Amazon! It comes with 2 insulated pockets for bottles, 17 total pockets, a changing pad, stroller straps, and it has a rubber bottom.
JuJuBe is the other diaper bag that came up a lot. It’s convertible so it can be used as a shoulder bag or a backpack. It has 2 insulated bottle pockets and a memory foam changing pad — plus it’s machine washable.
This Mancro one was recommended highly by a mom who said she went through multiple diaper bags before finding one that worked! It’s much cheaper than the previous two and it’s also very well-reviewed on Amazon. It has 14 compartments, a dedicated wipes pocket, 2 insulated bottle pockets, a changing pad, and stroller straps.
Bonus: Dad is probably less likely to hate carrying this one.
This one from Bag Nation was recommended to me by a mom who said she “absolutely loves it” and the “reviews speak for themselves.” It’s moderately priced and gender neutral. It has 14 pockets, a changing pad, and a lifetime warranty!
Multiple moms were all about Fawn Design. Whether you’re looking for a diaper bag that looks like a purse, or a boho diaper bag, this one’s perfect. This diaper bag can be converted from a backpack to a shoulder bag. It has 12 pockets, comes in multiple colors of vegan leather, and is very roomy.
Check out my new ultimate guide of 35 things to do before baby arrives while you’re lying in bed!
Voila! Everything you need for a perfectly stocked, light-weight, non-bulky diaper bag!
Share this list of diaper bag essentials with your due date group if you think your fellow moms-to-be will find it useful!
Related to diaper bag essentials and preparing for a new baby:
- 8 Essential Items To Add To Your Hospital Bag Checklist (to make your stay much more enjoyable!)
- Baby’s First Week Home: The 8 Products I Used the Most
- 12 Uncommon Baby Registry Essentials — Practical Items You’ve Never Seen On A Baby Registry List
- What Not to Put on a Baby Registry: UNSAFE Stuff to Skip