Diaper Bag Essentials (What to Pack, Skip, and Never Forget!)

In a camel colored bag is diapers, a bottle, a nasal aspirator, a white and black striped outfit and a grey bunny with a yellow dress.

When you first have a baby, you may wonder how you possibly decide what you do and don’t need to put into your diaper bag. With my first baby, I had no idea what an outing with a tiny human would entail, so I found myself packing the dang kitchen SINK every time I left the house. No one really ever told me what diaper bag items were essentials and which ones are not!

If you find yourself in my shoes circa six years ago (and then again 2 years ago), fret not, my friend. I’m going to break it all down for you and keep you from looking like a dang pack mule because the long and short of it is that you really only need a few essentials for you and baby every time you walk out of your house..

So before you accidentally pack a 300 pound diaper bag that’s impossible to lug around, check out our list of diaper bag essentials and be sure to download our diaper bag checklist pdf at the end of this article!

This site contains affiliate links, meaning that we earn a small commission for purchases made through our site. We only recommend products we personally use, love, or have thoroughly vetted.

The Diaper Bag Essentials You Never Want to Leave Without

Now that you have the perfect diaper bag, it’s time to fill it! Don’t let packing a diaper bag stress you out. Stick to the essentials below, and you’ll be good to go!

Diapering Needs

Obviously, your diaper bag needs… diapers and their various accoutrements. You’ll want:

  • Diapers – Keep about 5 on hand. Schedule a time to refill the diaper bag (say every morning after your baby’s first change of the day) so you’re not stuck without any diapers when you leave the house.
  • Wipes – You can have a big standard size pack, or you can get a smaller travel size pack–your call!
  • Foldable changing pad – I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve changed a baby in the back of my car or in another weird place. Don’t let this happen to you.
  • A Spare Onesie (or two!) – You never know when there’s going to be an epic poopsplosion that ruins your baby’s outfit. Remember to change out the extra onesie with the season or when your little one outgrows their previous size.
  • Diaper rash cream – This is always great to have on hand for sore bums.
  • Small trash bag – This can be an old grocery bag or a small laundry bag. But this will let you carry any dirty outfits back home without the risk of any bodily fluid getting everywhere.
  • A shirt for YOU – Listen, sh*t happens when you’re carrying a baby around. Sometimes, you need to change your outfit, too.


Make sure you have everything you need for travel feeds, regardless of feeding method! Nobody wants to deal with a hangry baby while you’re out and about. This may include:

  • Burp cloths – For spit-up and other little messes (and there will be a lot of these).
  • A nursing cover – If you’re not comfortable nursing in public, there are a lot of great nursing covers on the market these days. A baby blanket could work, too, but we love nursing covers because they stay put.
  • Premade formula bottles – Either mix formula up with water over 158°F at home, cool, and carry in a cooler, OR use ready-to-feed formula. Don’t mix powdered formula with tap water on-the-go to avoid risk of Cronobacter infection from contaminated powdered formula.
  • Cooler with ice pack – For pre-made bottles
  • Snacks – Once your little one is eating solids, you may want to bring some snacks with you. Or heck, you may just want a snack for yourself. In fact, go ahead and pack that snack for you, too, mama. You deserve it, and your body needs nutritious food after birth, especially if you’ve had a c-section.

Other Diaper Bag Essentials

Diaper changes and feeding are your primary concerns when packing a diaper bag, but there’s a few more things you might want to consider:

  • A carrier – We prefer the Boba Baby Wrap because it’s easy to throw in a diaper bag to go.
  • Baby Tylenol or other meds – Just in case your little spikes a fever before you can get home.
  • A hat – Choose a sunhat for warm weather, or an adorable beanie for cold weather. Make sure you swap out hats with the season!
  • Sunscreen – If you’re in warm weather and your baby is older than 6 months, consider using sunscreen.
  • A teether or baby toy – Occasionally rotate the toy you bring to keep your baby interested during diaper changes.
  • A baby blanket or portable play mat – You’ll never know when you need an extra layer for baby, or when you want to lay them down to play somewhere. A blanket or play mat can be a lifesaver!

What Should You Look for When Picking Out a Diaper Bag for Babies?

While packing the right things inside your diaper bag is crucial to staying organized and prepared on the go, it’ll be even better if you have the right bag type to put it all in. 

For example, if you have a tote with zero pockets and organizers, your stuff will fall to the bottom and induce severe parenting stress and rage whenever you have to dig around to find something. We don’t make the rules; it just happens.

Tips for Picking the Perfect Diaper Bag

So, as you’re preparing your baby registry checklist and choosing which items you want and need, consider these tips for picking the perfect diaper bag:

  • Space and Storage: No, you don’t need a giant suitcase as a diaper bag, but you’ll still want lots of room and pockets to keep things together. 
  • Easy-to-Clean Surfaces: Our first diaper bag was SO CUTE–for the first ten minutes until we got it dirty and had difficulty cleaning it. Pick a diaper bag backpack or bag that’s easy to wipe down…you’ll thank me later!
  • Insulated Storage Areas: From snacks to bottles, you’ll love having a pocket to keep things cool while out. 
  • Make Sure it’s Comfortable: Head to your local baby store and try on diaper bags before you choose one, or order one with a good return policy. You’ll be carrying it a TON, so you want to make sure it feels good.
  • Stroller Straps or Clips: You won’t know how nice it is to hang your bag from your stroller until you need to! Many diaper bags come with built-in straps or clips for this purpose.
  • Partner-Friendly Style: Make sure you pick a bag your partner will want to carry, too. Sure, a diaper bag covered in flowers and hearts might be cute, but would your other half prefer something more gender-neutral?

Need help finding the ideal option? Below is a list of our favorite diaper bags for new parents:

Want to read more about our favorite diaper bags? You can find our reviews of diaper bag backpacks (our personal favorite option) here!

Should You Buy a Car Diaper Caddy Instead?

During a recent chat with mom friends about diaper bags, some said they opted out of buying one. Instead, they threw a storage container or diaper caddy in their car.

The point was that instead of dragging a heavy diaper bag around, they would grab a few things they needed out of their car stock and throw them in their purse before leaving the car.

One mom of twins said this was especially helpful because carrying two babies was hard enough! Not having to lug around a diaper bag made things easier for her. 

That said, whether you choose a diaper caddy to keep in your car or choose to keep everything in your diaper bag so you can grab and go is your call! I’m the type of person who likes to keep a diaper bag FULLY stocked so I don’t have to think about it every time I walk out of the door. Yes, I have a type-A personality. What can I say, I don’t like poop surprises!

You might like the option of just throwing a onesie, a diaper, and some wipes into your purse when you get out of the car. You do you!

Don’t Forget to Download Our Diaper Bag Checklist

Learning how to parent takes a fair share of trial and error. No matter how many articles you read, you’ll still have to ignore all those judging moms out there and do what makes sense to you.

That includes figuring out what YOUR diaper bag essentials are.

You may find a crafty item that makes organization easier. Perhaps, you’ll decide your baby will never wear that sun hat you threw in, but they will let you use a particular sunscreen for babies. Time will help you determine what you need and want or don’t.

Just remember, if you get stuck and need help figuring out what to do when you’re putting together a newborn diaper bag, this article is jam-packed with great ideas from other parents who’ve been there. 

Want to make things even easier for yourself? Why not download our convenient newborn diaper bag checklist? It has all the information you’ll need in an easy-to-use document. 

If you’d like to learn more about getting out of the house with a baby, we recommend this amazing YouTube video from our incredible founder, Katy!

So, what about you? What are your tips and tricks for your favorite diaper bag essentials?