Are you trying to figure out what to include in your diaper bag? Do you always feel like you are either over packing or worse, forgetting something? The last thing you want to do as a new mom if find yourself outside without one of your diaper bag essentials! So here’s your guide!
Where to start?
In order to figure out what your specific list of “essentials” are, you first need to ask yourself a few questions…
- How far from home will you be?
- How long will you be out?
- Will you be feeding your baby formula while out or breastfeeding? (or both?)
- Will you be feeding your little one solids while out?
- Will you have access to a clean bathroom with a good changing table situation?
- Could your little one get cold while you are out?
The answers to these questions will determine what you need to bring with you and how much of it.
Common Diaper Bag Essentials
You can break up your “must-have” list into the following categories: Feeding, Pooping, Care, and Mom Stuff. (Yes, “Mom Stuff” is my technical term of the day…)
Let’s break these down:
Diaper Bag Essentials – Feeding
If you are EXCLUSIVELY NURSING, you will likely have the least to bring with you in this category. Some common diaper bag essentials for the nursing momma are:
- Nursing cover. If you choose to use one. I did in the beginning until I built up the confidence to ditch it. You could also use a thin blanket as a nursing cover and carry one less item in your bag.
- Burp cloths. I recommend using cloth diapers as burp cloths (this link and the other links below are affiliate links. See below for more info). For more about spit up and burp clothes, read my post about Spit Up! I like this option best because they are super absorbent and inexpensive.
- Water. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times so you can stay hydrated while nursing!
- Backup Formula IF you find it helpful. This may be a bit controversial but here goes… Many moms, including myself, find comfort in knowing that they have a bottle of formula on hand JUST in case they are unable to find a safe quiet spot to nurse their baby. I did this and though I only used it a couple of times when I really had to, it gave me peace of mind. If it’s the difference between being able to reach your breastfeeding goals or not, then I think a couple of ounces of formula won’t hurt! I like the “Nursette” bottles because they are only 2 ounces each and come with a disposable nipple. These are perfect if you just need to buy yourself a few minutes until you can nurse. Since they are so small, you won’t feel like you are wasting anything and if you don’t end up using them, you can easily donate them.
If you are FORMULA FEEDING, you will want to consider the following:
- Small bottles of water. The super small 8 oz bottles of water are perfect because they will always be ready to use, take up little space, are will already be at room temperature! (Room temperature is suitable after the first few weeks).
- Bottles. Have enough bottles with you for the time you plan to be away plus one extra just in case.
- Formula. I formula fed my first and I used to keep snack sized Ziploc bags of formula with me. Each bottle bag would hold one serving (or one bottle worth) of formula.
- Burp Cloths. See Burb Cloths above.
TIP: When you are ready to prepare a bottle, just pour water from a freshly opened bottle of water into the bottle (to the right amount) and then add the formula powder. Swirl to mix and it’s ready to go! IF your baby needs the water to be warmer than room temperature, find somewhere to order a cup of hot water and let the bottle sit in that for a few minutes or run under hot water. Pre-made bottles of formula can get expensive and this method doesn’t take up that much extra space.As a bonus, you’ll likely end up with a little water left over for yourself!
If you are EXCLUSIVELY PUMPING, you will likely want the following:
- Bottles of pumped milk.
- Ice packs for the milk.
- Burp cloths.
Since pumped milk is okay at room temperature for 6-8 hours, you MAY not even need an ice pack. Use an ice pack if you think you might not use up the milk during your time outside but be sure to finish or dispose of the milk within 24 hours even if you use an ice pack. (Note: I’m not an expert on this. For really great breast milk storage information, go to this post on KellyMom.com).
Anytime we the baby left the house without me (like with my husband for instance), I’d send two bottles of pumped milk. One would stay at room temperature and one would be with an ice pack. This way one would soon be at room temperature and ready to use immediately (unless the baby needed it warmed further than room temperature). The second one would stay cool and just be a back-up. Just in case.
And last but not least… If you are FEEDING SOLIDS, you’ll want to have:
- Spoons. You’ll want to have a few just in case one or more drops. These spoons are super soft and change colors to indicate when food is too hot!
- Ziploc Bag. To put the dirty spoons in unless you have the disposable kind.
- Food. Either jars/pouches of food that are shelf stable or a homemade jar or pouch in a cooler.
Alternatively, you could travel with a ripe banana or avocado, a disposable bowl, a spoon, and a disposable fork! You can easily mash the fruits with the fork on the go and serve that. It’s a little extra work but definitely an option!
Diaper Bag Essentials – Pooping
I could call this section “Diapering” but where’s the fun in that?
Anyway, you’ll want to have the following Diaper Bag Essentials on hand:
- Diapers. Okay, that’s a given! Have about 1-2 diapers in your bag for each hour you plan to be away.
- Wipes. Don’t waste your money on small diaper-bag-sized packs of wipes! You can either get a diaper bag that holds a full pack (like my favorite mentioned below), or just grab a handful and put them in a Ziploc bag. It’s really not a big deal!
- Diaper Cream. Chances are that you got loads of diaper cream samples when you were pregnant. Did you keep them? If so, throw them in your bag! If not, look for a really small container because chances are that you won’t need it on the go that often – but you still want to have it on hand just in case.
- Diaper Pad. Many diaper bags come with diaper pads which is amazing! What if your baby has a huge accident all over it though? What then? That’s why I love disposable diaper pads like these! I would put a disposable one on top of the regular diaper pad (that came with my bag) and then put my baby on that. If and when (because it will happen) your baby has a blow-out and you get poop all over the disposable pad, you can just throw it out! You won’t need to worry about cleaning up the permanent diaper pad that matches your bag. If the surface you’re using is clean enough, or you want to save space in your bag, you can even skip the nicer pad and JUST use the disposable one.
- Change of Clothes. Have 1-2 changes of clothes handy. I like to keep each pair in a Ziploc bag so that they are easy to grab. A change of clothes means a FULL change of clothes. Onesie, socks, pants/skirt/shorts. See “Blow-out” above… it will happen! You will need to change them from head to toe at LEAST once! You don’t want to be unprepared.
- Hand-Sanitizer. There are so many uses for this. Just have it! In fact, get one that’s on a hook or a key chain and hook it to the outside of your bag for easy access! You’ll have so many uses for this I’m sure!
TIP: If you will be driving, it doesn’t hurt to keep an extra pack of diapers and wipes in your trunk to help you stock up when needed!
Diaper Bag Essentials – General Care Items
These are items you may or may not need depending on where you are going and for how long…
- Blanket. If you want your baby to take a nap while out or think that they may be cold, keep a cozy blanket on hand! If you think your baby might not like the sounds or lights, keep an extra light blanket to cover their baby seat with. Just be very careful when you cover their baby seat – it can get very hot under most blankets so you’ll want to check on them often!
- Weather Appropriate Items. This includes hats, mittens, sunglasses, etc.
- SPF lotion. If your baby will be in the sun, be sure to keep SPF on hand so you can reapply it regularly. Just because an area is covered, doesn’t mean it’s protected fully.
- Bug Deterrent. You may need something to keep the bugs away! This could be a clip-on, a spray that you use on the clothes (not the baby!), or even a mesh cover for the baby seat or stroller.
- Baby Carrier. Some baby carriers, like slings, are very compact! I often threw one in my bag JUST IN CASE.
- Pacifier. If your baby uses one, make sure to have a few on hand.
Diaper Bag Essentials – Mom Stuff
Don’t forget the stuff YOU need while out! This would include your sunglasses, keys, wallet etc. Make sure you have what YOU need too!
What about the BAG?
Now that we know what goes IN a bag… what about the bag itself?
Let’s face it. You’re going to spend a LOT of time with your diaper bag. You want it to be something pretty, functional, durable, practical and on and on… right?
I recently had the opportunity to test out a new Backpack Diaper Bag and I love it! I was actually on the market for a backpack to use on the weekends, so when Loti Solutions reached out to me about reviewing their new diaper bag and sponsoring this post, I was thrilled! (Although I was compensated for my time to review their product and write this post, all opinions in this post are 100% my own!)
My Loti Solutions Diaper Bag Review
I remember how hard it was to find a diaper bag that was truly functional. I have gone through SO many diaper bags, it’s not even funny. What I disliked the most about the diaper bags I’ve had in the past is that they either had to sit on one shoulder (ouch!), be worn cross-body (NOT fun if you’re nursing!), or had to be hung on a stroller (unsafe!) These weren’t practical or good for my back.
I was on the market for a backpack that would be a good diaper bag for a baby AND also work for me now as a “toddler bag”. My youngest is potty training and I needed someplace to store snacks, tablets, toys, a potty seat, change of clothes etc. I wanted something that would work for a toddler-mom like me and a new/baby-mom and the Loti diaper bag backpack does fits the bill!
What’s best about the Loti’s Diaper Backpack?
The bag includes two main compartments. The front one is perfect for small items – like the “Mom Essentials” and the “Feeding” category items. I like how the pockets are stretchy so they really hold on to the items well, and there are enough of them to include everything you’d need! There is also a compartment that will hold a pack of wipes (see the wipes peaking out in the picture?). There are also side mesh pockets for the bottles!
One of the best (hidden) features is a small zipper at the top of the bag where you can store your keys and credit card! This makes it especially easy to access on the go and keeps them savely tucked away but accessible.
Then there’s the larger second pocket which is perfect for all the pooping (I mean, “diapering”) items including their matching diaper pad! The best part about this pocket, though, is the laptop pouch! Yes… a laptop pouch! With this bag, you can safely take your baby outside and have your laptop with you so that you can sneak in some work, online-shopping, studying, or TV while your little one might be napping outside! Your baby gets some fresh air and a good nap, while you get some computer time! It’s a nice perk!
And then of course… since it’s a diaper bag backpack, it’s REALLY comfortable! I’m personally not a huge backpack fan in general, but now that I have two kids and my purse is constantly overflowing AND my back is beginning to hurt… Well, let’s just say I’ve been converted! This bag is perfect even with my three-year old.
The fact that it’s a backpack also gives me a lot more freedom. I’m able to bend down without feeling like my bag is going to open or fall off my shoulder. I have full use of both arms/hands AND I’m able to carry my boy (or both even) without them pumping against my bag. I absolutely LOVE the freedom!
I think this diaper bag would make a great long-term solution for a mom from the newborn through toddler stage! It’s so versatile, pretty, and comfortable, that I can no longer imagine going out without it!
So what do you think? Did I miss any items that you feel are Diaper Bag Essentials? What about the Diaper Bag? What do you want most out of a diaper bag?
* Affiliate Disclosure: These links are affiliate links. This means that if you purchase any of the products I love through one of my links, I will be paid a small commission AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU! Those few cents add up and help me keep this blog alive and well! Thank you in advance for any purchases you might make through one of my links. I really appreciate your support!