Over the years, my diaper bag needs have changed a bit for each new baby's needs, but the core of my Must-Have Diaper Bag Essentials Checklist have stayed the same. Use these baby care tips to help you pack the perfect diaper bag and be prepared for anything life throws at you.
I learned very early in my motherhood journey that a well-stocked diaper bag is worth its weight in gold and can get you through almost any baby emergency. Whether you're heading to the doctor's office, running errands, or even attempting a longer trip with a baby in tow, there is no denying the need to be prepared for whatever comes your way.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Pampers and I am being paid for the time it takes to write this post. I was not required to post anything positive. I write with integrity and only share about things we truly use and love.
First, I think I should clarify that I have learned that I need to have a well-stocked diaper bag as well as a baby emergency car kit that serves as an extra layer of baby emergency protection. Simply put, babies need a lot of stuff and diaper bags are only so big. I'd rather not require a piece of luggage just to go to the doctor's office, so I tend to pack the essentials in the diaper bag and then have some extra essentials in the baby emergency car kit. Make sense?
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Must-Have Diaper Bag Essentials for Prepared Moms
Diapers: This is kind of a given for a diaper bag list, I know, but I feel like I need to point out that you do, in fact, want to remember to put diapers in your diaper bag because it is absolutely no fun if you forget them. (Ask me how I know!) We are big fans of Pampers Swaddlers and have been devoted fans for all three of our children.
Pampers Swaddlers are so soft and super, super absorbent which helps pull away moisture from your baby's skin to keep them dry, clean, and comfortable. The sides are stretchy and flexible to help baby move while still keeping the diaper in place. When they are a newborn, the Swaddlers are designed with an umbilical cord notch specifically intended to contour to their belly while still leaving room for their healing umbilical cord. Their wetness indicator line is great to help you tell if your baby needs a diaper change at a glance.
As a mom with a baby with food allergies that affects the GI tract, I absolutely cannot skimp when it comes to diapers because we have more than the average number of messy diapers during a food reaction.
Wipes: Don't skimp on stocking your bag with plenty of baby wipes either because you will use them for more than just diaper changes. Trust me, you can never have too many wipes. Dirty hands? Dirty face? Something mysteriously sticky? I will forever and ever carry baby wipes with me. Pinky promise. Once again, I'm a Pampers fan because they are the softest I've tried and they do not have a strong fragrance.
Diaper Cream: This is also a must if you are working to prevent or fight a diaper rash. Tips for preventing a diaper rash is an entirely different post, but this momma doesn't mess around when it comes to diaper rash prevention.
Changing Pad: I love those portable fold-up travel changing pads that you can wipe clean. I have several because they are just so handy to use wherever you need to change a diaper. Obviously, if you are using a changing station in a bathroom, lay it down to keep baby off of the plastic, but they are also pretty great for doing diaper changes in your van while on the go. Just lay it in the seat or in the back of the van and change the diaper. I've even been known to lay it down in my lap and change the diaper while sitting in the front seat after feeding the baby.
Disposal Bags: Whether you buy the mini diaper disposal bags on the roll or recycle your plastic bags from the grocery store, you need something available to toss dirty diapers or soiled clothes in. If I'm close to a trash can, I'll skip the bag, but sometimes I'm not near a trash can. Or, in the case of our pediatrician's office, they make you bag your diapers and take them with you so they're not overrun with stinky diapers from every patient they've seen for the day.
Extra Outfit: Children are messy. You WILL need extra outfits. The end.
Seasonal Clothing Items: Depending on the season, you might need to add an item or two to help with the seasonal weather. For example, I have a big floppy hat to keep the sun off of baby's face for sunny days at the park. When it turns cold, I will switch the floppy hat out for a toboggan and a pair of mittens. I also keep a lightweight hooded jacket or sweater so I can add a layer in the spring, fall, or when the air conditioning is a little too cool.
Extra Pacifier: Even with pacifier clips to attach them, pacifiers will inevitably fall on the floor at some point. Have a back-up. I put ours in a pacifier case to keep it clean.
Burp Cloth: Spit-up happens. For some of us with reflux or food allergy babies, there's a lot of spit-up. You've got to have something to catch it. Early in my daughter's life, I would pack more burp cloths than anything else because most of what she drank came right back up before we realized her main food triggers she was reacting to in my breastmilk.
Hand Sanitizer: Whether it's because you aren't near a sink to wash your hands or just as an extra germ precaution, you've got to have something to disinfect your hands while you're on the go.
Small Board Book or Toy: Once they are old enough to start focusing on objects and playing, you'll need something for baby to look at or play with. Board books and rattles are perfect!
Extra Diaper Bag Supplies for Breastfeeding Moms
If you are breastfeeding your baby, there are a few things that will make your life easier as a nursing mom if you have these things with you.
Nursing Cover: Let me preface this one by saying that you do not have to use a nursing cover if you don't want to, but if you feel most comfortable nursing in public under a nursing cover, then you will want to pack this in your bag. I'm more of a situational nursing cover user, but I do like to have it handy for when I prefer not to be exposed or need to eliminate distractions for my nursling.
Breast Pads: You will most definitely want these in your bag until your milk supply is regulated and you stop leaking milk. Since changing them often will help prevent thrush and protect your shirts from wet spots, make sure to place a good amount in a diaper bag pocket.
Lanolin or Nipple Cream: Whichever you prefer, you will need a tube of something to soothe sore nipples, especially in the newborn stage.
Snack/Water for Mom: Let's face it, breastfeeding makes you hungry all the time. If you have room, stick a water bottle in the diaper bag so you can stay hydrated. You can't make milk if you aren't eating and drinking enough.
Extra Diaper Bag Supplies for Moms Using Formula
Whether you are using formula all the time or just supplementing, you will need to tweak your diaper bag essentials to make sure you have everything you need to feed your baby.
Formula: Depending on how much formula you need to pack, it might be better to just use the formula dispensers where you measure out the scoops ahead of time. Then, when it is time to mix up a bottle, you just pour it into the bottle and add your water.
Bottles: This is not necessarily exclusive to formula feeding, but I added it here because it is a necessity for formula. You'll have to work out your routine for how to best prep for formula bottles on the go, whether that means having warm water in a bottle that you add the formula to or having an empty bottle that you later fill with water.
Handheld Electric Formula Mixer: This falls under the category of a luxury item, but I liked it when I transitioned to formula with my oldest. I mean, if I can froth my coffee, why not froth baby formula until it's fully mixed? Only the best for my babies, I say! Just kidding...but it really is handy.
Extra Diaper Bag Supplies for When Baby is Eating Food
Food: I feel like this could be an entirely different post, but whether it is baby food in a jar or pouch from the store or even homemade in a container from home, you will need to pack something for them to eat.
Bowl: Depending on your needs, you might need a bowl of some kind. I try to make sure they are low profile and don't take up a lot of room, but we are currently in a really weird stage with our daughter's food introduction and we require a bowl.
Spoon/Fork: If you are using baby purees, you'll need a spoon. If they are starting to self-feed, you'll need something for them to use themselves.
Bib: I prefer the silicone bibs because they are super easy to clean. Call me lazy, but I prefer to eliminate potential extra laundry at all costs.
Tips for Always Having a Stocked Diaper Bag
I mentioned earlier that it is no fun to forget something as important as diapers in your diaper bag. I cannot stress enough to get yourself into a routine of stocking the diaper bag ahead of time. One big theme in the baby years is establishing routines and packing the diaper bag is one of the routines that you have to set for yourself as a parent.
Remove used food items immediately: Start a habit early to take used bottles, cups, etc. out of the diaper bag immediately so they can be washed and prevent being forgotten and growing mold or other bacteria overgrowth.
Pack your bag the night before: I have found that I have to pack the diaper bag each night before going to bed. Getting ready to leave the house with kids is stressful enough without having to run around grabbing last minute items to throw in the diaper bag. If there are things that I need to grab on our way out of the door in the morning, I write a list of things to remember. For example, as a food allergy mom, sometimes I will have to remember to take a dirty diaper to the doctor for them to test for blood and I take our food journal absolutely EVERYWHERE we go just in case we have to head to the hospital unexpectedly.
Rotate Your Stock: Take a tip from the grocery stores and rotate your diaper bag items so you don't pull out a diaper or outfit that your baby has outgrown. If you are constantly putting new diapers on top of the stack, and never getting to the bottom of the stack, you will end up with a diaper bag stocked with diapers that are too small. Trust me, it happens to the best of us.
This baby supply rotation tip also applies to the changing of seasons and the extra outfits in your diaper bag. If you live in an area where the temperature fluctuates quite a bit, you might want to pack multiple outfit options or an outfit with layering options so you don't pull out a pair of shorts when it's cold. (Once again, ask me how I know!)
Watch For Sales & Buy Ahead: Probably one of my number one tips for being a prepared mom is to watch for sales and buy ahead of time if possible. You'll lower your budget and your stress level at the same time if you are buying before you run out of items. It will save you from late night emergency runs to the store in your pajamas. I try to watch for sales on diapers and use coupons in crazy stacking scenarios to get the best bang for my buck.
Roll With the Punches & Find The Nearest Store: Inevitably, something will happen and you'll be thrown off your prepared mom game. No big deal. You're an awesome mom even if you forget something and can roll with the punches. Just give yourself a little grace and find the nearest store!
Real Life Diaper Shopping Trip Details from a Frugal Mom
We recently had to pack up and leave in a hurry to handle an emergency situation with our house. Our time out of the house was extended and I found myself with less than my ideal amount of extra baby supplies for our food allergy baby. We are still trying to pinpoint some of her trigger foods and we have more than your average number of messy diapers during a food reaction. Knowing that we were going to be away from the comforts of home and might have potential cross-contamination issues that she might react to through my breastmilk, I stopped at an Ingles to grab an extra pack of diapers and wipes...just in case.
I was super excited to find tags for a "Buy $40 in select Pampers products, Get $10 off a future purchase" deal. Plus, on the day I was shopping, if you had an Ingles Advantage card they were on sale a little more!
I knew I wasn't going to be back at an Ingles for a while and I would probably lose the coupon the second I put it into my purse, so I asked the cashier if I could split my transaction and use the $10 coupon for the road snacks I had also picked up for my big kids. This is a frugal mom coupon hack and I am so glad she was kind enough to let me roll the coupon.
Since I had kept a running total in my head as I placed snacks in my cart, I was super excited when she told me the final total amount. By rolling the coupon, I only paid a DOLLAR for my bag full of snacks and skipped all the way to the van where, coincidentally, my husband was changing the baby's diaper in the front seat.
Want to get your own $10 coupon just for buying diapers that were already on your list?
Don't miss out on this Pampers deal at Ingles! The "Buy $40 in select Pampers products, Get a $10 coupon for your next purchase" deal is running September 23, 2020 through November 3, 2020. Mark your calendar so you don't miss it.
Printable Diaper Bag Essentials Checklist
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