Diaper Bag Checklist – 17 Essentials To Pack (Expert Tips from a Mom of 3!)

There’s nothing worse than heading out with your new baby only to realize you forget an essential item. On the other hand, you don’t want to lug around a diaper bag that weights 100 pounds because you put every single item possible in it! So what are diaper bag essentials? Today I’ll share just that!

Diaper Bag Checklist - 17 Essentials To Pack (Expert Tips from a Mom of 3!)

Your diaper bag is your new bff (so be sure to get one that you like!). It will be your go to bag for the next 2-5 years.

I’m a mom of 3. I’ve had my share of times when I arrived at the zoo without a bottle to feed my baby or a fall festival without a diaper to change a blowout. And you know what? I don’t want that to happen to you!

I’ve learned more than a few things over the last 4+ years having 3 kids, all of which are valuable to you!

So today I’m going to walk you through my diaper bag checklist so you don’t end up at dinner with no diaper to change a blow out or your pediatrician with no spare change of clothes (read my story about that below!).

Diaper Bag Checklist

Diaper bag checklist - the 17 diaper bag essentials you don't want to forget

17 Diaper Bag Essentials

17 Diaper Bag Essentials

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1. Diapers

Diapers + wipes are diaper bag essentials

Ok, let’s start out with the obvious – diapers! No, you don’t need a whole pack but you will need at least 1 for every 2 hours you plan on being out. I always put in one extra because you never know what might happen.

As your baby gets bigger you won’t be changing them as often so this time frame can be pushed back a bit. For example – I bring 1 diaper for every 3 hours I’m out for my one year old. But newborns pee and poop a LOT and you don’t want to be caught empty handed.

2. Wipes

Diapers + wipes are diaper bag essentials

This is a bit of a personal opinion about whether you want a travel size pack of wipes or a full size. Personally what I do is this: when one of the full size packs of wipes that I use at home is about half gone, I put that in the diaper bag!

That way I’m not going through a ton of extra waste with the small travel size pack and I’m not left empty handed in the case of an extreme blow out. I also have 3 kids so the likelihood of needing extra wipes for dirty hands, messy faces or spills is very likely so having more than 10 wipes in my bag is a good idea.

(I do, however, keep a travel pack of wipes and a few extra diapers in my “emergency bag” in my car. More on that on my mom hacks post!)

3. Diaper Rash Ointment

Diaper Rash Ointment

There’s nothing worse than changing your baby’s diaper only to realize they are extremely fussy because of a bad diaper rash! They can come on suddenly so don’t be left empty handed.

Keeping diaper rash ointment in your diaper bag will ward off any painful butts and uncomfortable babies!

4. Portable Baby Changing Pad

changing pad pack

Most diaper bags come with a changing pad however getting a portable baby changing pad like this was the best investment for me. I stock it full of my diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream and throw it in my diaper bag.

That way when I need to change a diaper, I don’t always have to bring the entire diaper bag with me! I just need the changing pad pack. This is also one of my husband’s favorite so he’s no lugging a backpack to the bathroom with him when he changes a diaper 😉

5. Burp Cloths/Bibs

aden and anais burp cloth and bib

My personal favorite are the burp cloths that double as a bib so you only need to bring one thing with! I only keep one burp cloth in my bag unless my baby spits up a ton or I know I’ll be gone for multiple feedings then I’ll add in an extra one.

My daughter would go through one burp cloth each feeding and soak it while both my sons barely needed one. So depending on your baby, bring 1-2 burp cloths with!

6. Change of clothes

put a change of clothes in your diaper bag

Funny story. When our 3rd baby was born, I brought him to his first pediatrician appointment with just a diaper and a swaddle blanket in my bag. My husband had taken our older 2 kids to the state fair and brought the well stocked diaper bag with him and since I was only going to be gone for a short time and then meeting up with him I assumed I didn’t need much.

I was wrong.

My son ended up peeing mid-diaper change and got pee ALL over his clothes AND the one spare diaper. I ended up having to ask for a fresh diaper from the nurse and put him in his carseat with no clothes on, just his swaddle blanket around him and his hat on him!

Lesson learned.

Even if you’re going to be gone for just a short time, it’s a very good idea to bring a change of clothes with. Most often I just throw in a pair of pajamas since it’s just one article of clothing rather than pants and a top. Keep things as easy as possible!

7. Waterproof Wet Bag for soiled clothes

waterproof bag for soiled clothes

I guarantee there will be at least one time in your parenting experience that a child will soil their clothes whether it’s a pee accident, a blow out or some other experience that will result it wet clothes.

Getting a bag that’s water proof that you can put wet clothes in that won’t get the rest of your items in your diaper bag ruined is one of the best diaper bag essentials ever.

I always put my spare change of clothes inside the waterproof bag so it keeps everything together and then when I need it I can just pull out the bag with the extra clothes and do what needs to be done! 🙂

8. Pacifier (if you use them)

pacifier and pacifier bag for your diaper bag

If you use pacifiers for your kids you definitely don’t want to forget them at home! You’ll want at least one extra pacifier in your bag at all times.

With our second baby I found these handy bags that not only keeps them clean but easy to find! Nothing is worse than being at church or a restaurant and frantically trying to find that elusive pacifier. This bag helped so much!

9. Bottle + Formula (if using them)

don't forget to put a bottle and formula in your diaper bag!

If you are bottle feeding your baby don’t forget a bottle! I’ve found it easiest to actually buy an extra bottle and just keep it in there.

If you’re formula feeding you need one of these formula dispensers! Keep it full so your baby stays happy (and full haha!).

10. Nursing Cover

black white stripe milk snob nursing cover and baby bling bow

A nursing cover is useful even if you’re not nursing! I love the Milksnob nursing covers because they double as a car seat cover.

On days that it’s windy, rainy or sunny, simply wrap the nursing cover over your carseat to keep your baby protected from the elements!

It also can be used as a light weight blanket on days that get a little chilly as well.

11. Snacks

add snacks to your diaper bag!

This one’s for you AND your baby! If you’re breastfeeding (or just a busy mom), you’ll want some healthy high protein snacks to keep the hangries away. 😉

Once your baby starts eating you’ll want to make sure you have age appropriate snacks. Put in some fruit or veggie pouches, puffs or other easy to transport snacks that won’t ruin an appetite!

12. Toys

toys for baby are a diaper bag essential

Now please, don’t fill your big with your baby’s 10 favorite toys. And also don’t leave the same 2 toys in there all day every day!

Pick out a couple toys that are small (things like our kids’ favorite suction toys that are perfect for eating out or this crinkle paper) and rotate them in and out of your diaper bag!

This will help keep your baby occupied and happy when you’re out and about.

13. Poop Bags

poop bags for dirty diapers is needed in your diaper bag

Don’t get caught with a stinky dirty diaper and no where to throw it away to contain the stink! You can use these plastic poop bags for baby diapers or what we do is actually use dog poop bags (double duty if you have a dog!)! Either one will do the trick at containing the smell when needed.

You only need a couple of these in your bag at all times and they’re so small they won’t take up much space!

14. Sunscreen (+ Bug Spray)

grab sunscreen and bug spray for your diaper bag

Throw in a small travel size container or sunscreen stick for those spontaneous stops at the park or when you find yourself at a farmers market with no shade for you and baby!

This is something that’s helpful for both you and your little one – after they’re 6 months old, of course.

If you live in a place with gnats or mosquitos like I do, throwing in a small bug spray is a good idea too! You don’t want to ruin a picnic because you can’t get the bugs to leave you alone!

15. Hand Sanitizer

don't forget hand sanitizer! diaper bag essentials

Another thing for you and kids (if you have toddlers!) is hand sanitizer. Use this before feeding your baby or after changing them.

Or use this before you having a snack time! Kids love to get their hands dirty and touch pretty much everything possible so you’ll want to keep a small hand sanitizer close by!

16. Band-aids

bandaids are needed in every diaper bag!

Whether you’re covering up a scraped knee from a toddler taking a tumble or covering a blister from a pair of new shoes you decided to wear, having a few bandaids is a diaper bag essential!

Bonus – they’re small so they won’t take up much extra space!

17. Mom or Dad’s Essentials

You can’t forget about you! Don’t leave home without your wallet, phone or car keys!

I like to keep a clutch with my essentials (wallet, phone, lip balm, etc) inside it. That way I can easily transfer it from my purse to my diaper bag and know everything I’m going to need is inside!

What to look for in a diaper bag

I’ve gone through quite a few diaper bags over the lsat 4+ years and I’ve learned a few things!

diaper bag backpack from austin fowler

First you want to have one that’s easy for you to carry. I found that having a backpack was the best option for me, especially with 2 rounds of 2 kids under 2.

Also having a diaper bag with good pockets was essential! With so many things that you need to have on hand for your baby it’s necessary to have good quality pockets.

And look for something that’s cute! You’ll be carrying this bag every day for years so it’s worth spending a little extra money on – especially if that means your spouse will take turns carrying it!

My absolute favorite diaper bag is my Austin Fowler backpack diaper bag and I have a full review on it (with a discount code!).

I also love my Freshly Picked backpack diaper bag and I have more details on that bag too!

That’s it! I hope this diaper bag essentials and diaper bag checklist helps take the guess work out of what to include in your bag and prevents any moments of panic because you find yourself stranded with no diaper!

I also have some other helpful mom life posts including your Hospital Bag Checklist and 15 Mom Hacks You NEED to Know!

Thanks for reading and sticking around!

About Jen

Jen is a mom of 3 who loves frozen cookie dough, plants and a generous pour of creamer in her coffee. Her biggest joy is helping others find joy in their life, style and home through tips, tutorials and encouragement. She also runs 2 additional blogs. Feel free to send Jen a message or join the fun on Instagram!

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