Ahead: a complete diaper bag checklist with ideas for minimizing bulk and weight!
There’s an art to putting together 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.
In this post:
- What to pack in your diaper bag for babies 0-6 months
- Useful things you might consider adding to your diaper bag
- What kind of diaper bag you should get
- Best diaper bags: recommendations from real moms
- What you should pack in your diaper bag for traveling
You can also click here for a diaper bag checklist to pin for later!
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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.
We have this clutch style one and it’s great for the stroller but takes up too much room in the diaper bag.
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 option is to pull a bunch of wipes out of a normal size pack and stick them in a snack or sandwich sized Ziploc bag.
You could also get a portable wipes dispenser if you prefer.
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 kind of all about the Ziplocs.
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.
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 diaper bag checklist helpful so far, post it in your due date group!
Useful things you might consider adding to 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.
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.
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 stuff!
The diaper bag becomes your purse. Keep an emergency tampon, cash, a chapstick and whatever else you normally carry around with you.
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 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)
Best diaper bags — recommended to me by other moms…
I figured you might also want some diaper bag recommendations from moms who aren’t nuts, so next I’m going to include suggestions made to me 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. 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!
What you should pack in your diaper bag 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.
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.
Pin for later: The Ultimate Diaper Bag Checklist
Voila! The ultimate diaper bag checklist for a perfectly stocked, light-weight, non-bulky diaper bag!
There you have it, every single thing there is to know about a well-stocked, non-bulky diaper bag!
Share this diaper bag checklist with your due date group if you think your fellow moms-to-be will find it useful!