Diaper Bag Essentials: Key Items and Packing Tips

Diaper Bag Essentials: Key Items and Packing Tips

As a new parent, you’ve probably had a moment when you’ve nostalgically remembered how easy it was to leave the house before having kids. Just grab your wallet, phone, and keys, and you’re out the door!

It’s never that simple with a baby or toddler in tow. From quality diapers and wipes to snacks, toys, and clothes, there’s so much to keep track of for even simple outings to the park or a nearby cafe. 

Yet, with a little planning and the right gear, you can make things much easier for yourself and eliminate most of the stress of getting ready. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover diaper bag essential items, along with useful tips for keeping everything organized and easy to access. 

The Must-Have Diaper Bag Essentials Checklist

With the confidence that comes from a well-stocked diaper bag, you and your little one can leave the house with everything you need for the day, ready to face whatever challenges and surprises you may encounter. 

For a quick reminder of all the essentials, we’ve divided our packing list into four different categories: diapering, feeding, health and hygiene, and clothing and accessories. We’ll discuss each of these categories in more detail below. 

Keep in mind that you probably won’t need all of these items, especially for brief outings. Trust your common sense. You know what’s best for your little one, and stocking your diaper bag will soon become second nature!

Diaper Bag Checklist:


  • Diapers (at least one every 2 hrs)
  • Wipes
  • Changing pad
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Disposable bags



  • Bottles
  • Formula or pumped breast milk
  • Burp cloths 
  • Nursing pads
  • Nursing cover
  • Baby food or snacks
  • Bib and utensils

Health and Hygiene:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Band-Aids
  • Sunscreen
  • Baby thermometer
  • Any necessary medications


Clothing and Accessories:

  • Extra outfit for baby (and you)
  • Waterproof bag
  • Sunhat or winter hat
  • Coat or all-in-one suit
  • Season-appropriate blanket
  • Pacifiers
  • Sensory toys

Diaper Change Necessities

This is the big one. Any time you leave the house, you’ll need to bring supplies to change your baby. A good rule of thumb is to bring enough diapers to change your baby once every two hours, plus an extra diaper or two. You’ll also need to bring wipes, which are incredibly useful not only for diaper changes but also for cleaning your hands and small messes that are likely to happen. 

You’ll also want a wipe-clean changing pad so that you can lay your baby on a clean surface. Some diaper bags come with changing pads, though you may want to invest in a larger one. Don’t forget to bring a travel-sized tube of diaper rash cream as well. Many ointments and salves are recommended after every change, while creams with higher zinc oxide content are preferable when your baby’s skin is irritated or inflamed.

Lastly, make sure you have a few disposable plastic bags so that you can discreetly throw away dirty diapers in a restroom trash can. These are often scented and come in a small roll.

When you’re packing your bag, we recommend choosing cashmere-soft diapers like VeryVery that can provide maximum protection against leaks and blowouts, which is crucial when you’re out and about with your baby. They’re also super soft and do a fantastic job of keeping your baby dry, minimizing the risk of diaper rash even on long, active days.

Review: Diapering Checklist

  • Diapers (at least one diaper every 2 hrs)
  • Wipes
  • Changing pad
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Disposable bags 

Feeding Time Essentials

The feeding-related items in your diaper bag will depend on your baby’s age, diet, and whether you’re breastfeeding, formula feeding, pumping, or taking a combination approach.

If you’re using infant formula, you’ll need to pack enough clean, sterilized bottles to keep your baby fed throughout your outing. 

If you’re bottle feeding with formula, the recommended preparation method is to bring a vacuum flask of boiled water and a premeasured amount of formula powder in a dry, sterile container. When your baby is ready for a feed, mix the correct quantities in a clean bottle, making sure that the formula has cooled down sufficiently. You can test the temperature by squeezing a few drops onto your wrist. If you have to make up the bottle in advance, just be aware that the prepared formula lasts for two hours at room temperature and four hours when stored in a cool bag with an ice pack.

You’ll also need bottles if you’re bringing pumped breast milk with you. Fresh breast milk can last for four hours at room temperature, while defrosted milk lasts two hours. Regardless of whether you’re feeding your little one breast milk or formula, you should discard any bottle feeds not finished within two hours. 

If you’re breastfeeding, you don’t have to worry about bringing bottles with you, but there are other things to consider. Some mothers feel more comfortable using a nursing cover when breastfeeding in public, though this is entirely optional.

You have the right to breastfeed in public places such as restaurants, airports, malls, and libraries without a nursing cover. If you’re nursing, you may want to pack some extra nursing pads (either disposable or reusable) in case you experience some milk leakage while feeding your baby.

Whatever method you use to feed your little one, you’ll want to have at least one burp cloth, washcloth, or muslin in your diaper bag for post-feeding spit-ups. These are also useful for cleaning up drool, vomit, and other messes that may occur while you’re out and about.

If your little one has begun having solid food, having some snacks in your bag will become a necessity. Think healthy, easy-to-prepare snacks like bananas, raisins, cheese sticks, mini rice cakes, hummus, and more. If you’ll be out during mealtimes, bringing a baby food pouch or jar, bib, and spoon will ensure your little one won’t miss their lunch.

Remember to stay hydrated! Babies under six months usually don’t need any water, as their hydration comes from breast milk or formula. However, if you have an older baby or toddler, bringing a water bottle will become a necessity.

Review: Feeding Supplies Checklist

  • Bottles (if using)
  • Formula (if using)
  • Pumped breast milk (if using)
  • Burp cloths, washcloths, or muslins
  • Nursing pads (if nursing)
  • Nursing cover (optional, if nursing)
  • Bib (for older babies)
  • Baby food pouch and spoon (for older babies)
  • Baby snacks (after six months)
  • Water bottle (after six months)

Extra Clothing and Accessories

Although using an absorbent, high-quality diaper like VeryVery can go a long way toward preventing leaks, accidents are bound to happen from time to time. Having a complete change of clothes for your baby means your outing doesn’t have to be derailed by an unexpected diaper blowout or a particularly messy mealtime. 

Some moms like to pack an extra shirt for themselves in case of breast milk leakage, spit-up, or other messes. Don’t forget to bring a waterproof wet bag to keep the dirty items separate from the rest of the contents of your diaper bag.

Make sure to consider the season and the weather when packing. In the summer, bring a wide-brimmed hat to provide shade for your baby, while a winter hat will keep them cozy when the weather gets colder. Similarly, prepare for fall and winter weather with extra layers, a coat, or an all-in-one suit (like a snowsuit). You’ll always need a blanket for your baby, though the thickness will depend on the season. Even in the summer, a light blanket will come in handy if you go somewhere cool, such as an air-conditioned restaurant. 

Don’t forget to pack a couple of pacifiers if your baby uses one. Having an extra pacifier on hand can be incredibly useful if one gets lost or drops on the ground. Lastly, having at least one age-appropriate toy in your bag will help keep your baby entertained in their stroller or car seat. Whenever possible, choose sensory toys with features such as crinkly pages, contrasting textures, and sounds.

Review: Clothing and Diaper Bag Extras Checklist

  • Change of clothes for baby
  • Waterproof plastic bag for wet clothes
  • Extra shirt for you (optional)
  • Sunhat or winter hat
  • Coat or all-in-one suit (for cold weather)
  • Season-appropriate blanket
  • Pacifiers (if using)
  • Sensory toys

Health and Hygiene Items

Life with a baby or toddler is unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to keep your diaper bag stocked with health-related items. It goes without saying that you should always pack any necessary medications that you or your little one might need. If you’re concerned that they’re under the weather but you still need to leave the house (or simply want them to have some fresh air), bringing a baby thermometer and an oral suspension medicine like liquid Tylenol can give you peace of mind as you monitor their health.

Hand sanitizer is a useful item in any backpack or handbag, especially when you want to ensure you don’t pass any germs to your little one when you’re out and about. 

When you have a toddler, a small supply of Band-Aids will undoubtedly come in handy at some point, as trips and falls are an unavoidable part of learning to walk, run, and play. 

In the summer months, you’ll always want to have baby-friendly sunscreen in your bag (along with a sunhat) if your little one is at least six months old. You can find a wide range of creams, sprays, and roll-ons at your local supermarket, pharmacy, or online. 

Review: Health and Hygiene Checklist

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Band-Aids
  • Sunscreen (after 6 months)
  • Baby thermometer (optional)
  • Any necessary medications

Diaper Bag Packing Tips

As with everything in this guide, your diaper bag packing method will undoubtedly depend on factors such as the type of outing, your baby’s age, and the weather or season. However, there are some general tips that can help optimize your organization and make days out with your little one as stress-free as possible. 

Choose a Diaper Bag with Compartments and Pockets

A diaper bag with a practical design and multiple compartments and pockets will make your life easier. Knowing exactly where everything is will simplify matters when you need to do a quick diaper change, grab a favorite toy to avoid a meltdown, or keep your little one cozy with an extra blanket. Utilizing compartments and pockets is especially useful for small items such as pacifiers, sunscreen, antibiotic ointment, and hand sanitizer. 

Establish a Packing System

When packing your bag, consider which items you’re likely to use the most and ensure that they are the easiest to access, especially wipes and diapers.

In addition to relying on the diaper bag’s built-in compartments, many parents find it useful to organize items into clear, zip-closed pouches that are easily accessible. For example, you might have a full change of clothes in one pouch and an “emergency” pouch with a first-aid kit, an extra onesie, and an extra pacifier in another. 

Items that you don’t want to leave home without but probably won’t use every time can be stored closer to the bottom of your bag or tucked away in less accessible compartments.

Regularly Restock and Rotate Items

When you get home after a long day out with your baby, restocking your diaper bag is probably the last thing you feel like doing. However, you’ll be relieved and grateful that you did this the next time you have to dash out the door with your baby in tow. Refilling essential items such as diapers and wipes, removing plastic bags containing wet or soiled clothes, and doing a quick inventory check will ensure that you don’t forget anything––or leave yourself an unpleasant surprise. 

Likewise, be sure to watch the weather and the changing seasons so that you’re ready with the right clothing and baby gear. Keep your baby happy by swapping out the toys in your bag regularly so that they don’t get bored by seeing the same one every time. You’ll also want to make sure that the emergency set of clothes you’ve stashed away still fits your baby, especially in those early weeks and months when they grow at an incredible rate! 

Utilize Car Space

Having a stash of spare items in your car can be a lifesaver when you’re busy running errands and suddenly realize you’re out of something. To ensure that you’re always prepared, keep a bag of essentials in the car. You might include an extra outfit, spare wipes and diapers, a blanket, and some first-aid supplies.

You can also use your car to store items you’ll need on longer journeys, such as extra toys and books, a picnic blanket, a portable baby seat, an umbrella, and a few nonperishable snacks such as rice cakes or raisin boxes.

The Most Essential Diaper Bag Item: VeryVery Premium Baby Diapers

A well-organized diaper bag should make your life easier and your outings with your little one more enjoyable. And when you’re stocking up before leaving the house, the brand of diapers you choose matters, too. Unfortunately, not every diaper can reliably prevent leaks and blowouts, which you absolutely want to avoid, especially when you’re not home. 

We created VeryVery premium diapers to give parents peace of mind, knowing that their baby’s diaper will provide outstanding absorbency and leak protection, along with incredible softness and comfort. We care deeply about protecting your little one’s delicate skin, so we’ve used breathable, hypoallergenic materials (and no latex, bleach, dyes, perfume, or lotion). 

Made with 40% recycled plastic bags and sustainably sourced pulp, our super soft, eco-friendly diapers have been designed to fit your little one snugly while still allowing them to move freely and comfortably, especially when they learn to crawl, cruise, walk, and run.

Final Thoughts

Though you may think wistfully of those not-so-long-ago days when you could simply walk out the front door with just a few things in your pocket, a diaper bag is an inescapable addition to your life as a new parent.

As you and your baby settle into a routine, you’ll gradually feel more confident embarking on new experiences with them. We hope our diaper bag checklist has been helpful in preparing you for the wide range of situations you may encounter during adventures with your baby. With a little practice and prep, you’ll be ready for anything! 

Want to learn more? Check out our baby blog, written by experienced moms and dads, for additional articles on navigating the confusing yet rewarding challenges of new parenthood.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still wondering about the mysteries of the diaper bag? Check out our answers to some of the most popular questions about this important topic. 

What do you actually need in a diaper bag?

Some of the most essential diaper bag items include diapers (no surprise there!), wipes, a portable changing pad, disposable plastic bags, diaper cream, hand sanitizer, Band-Aids, an extra change of clothes, pacifiers, a burp cloth, a season-appropriate hat, baby bottles, and formula (if using), a few small toys, and snacks for older babies and toddlers.

How many diapers do you need in a diaper bag?

You should generally pack enough diapers so that you can do a diaper change every two hours, though you may also want to include at least one additional diaper to prepare for the unexpected. If you have an older baby or toddler, you’ll need fewer diapers, on average.

What is the best style of diaper bag? 

These days, the diaper bag market is vast, and you’ll undoubtedly find many products that match your personal style and budget. Diaper bag backpacks are a consistently popular choice, though some parents prefer a cross-body or messenger-style bag or even a tote bag. You’ll also find a range of materials used in diaper bags, though many parents opt for waterproof, wipe-clean options. 

Whatever the design, make sure that your diaper bag has enough space and a sufficient number of pockets and compartments to comfortably store all of your essentials. 

Can a diaper bag be your carry-on item on a flight?

The short answer is yes, though when traveling with children, it’s essential to check the policies of your airline, as these can vary significantly. Many airlines, including United, American, Spirit, Frontier, Allegiant, and JetBlue (for lap infants up to age two), allow parents to bring a diaper bag onboard for free in addition to their carry-on allowance. 

Others, like Delta, Southwest, and Alaska Airlines, consider diaper bags to be carry-ons that count toward your allowance. Regardless of the airline, you should be permitted to bring a breast pump onboard without counting toward your carry-on allowance, as this is considered a medical device.

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