This Is Your Diaper Bag Checklist

person packing a diaper bag

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Your baby's diaper bag is more than just a bag—its an organizational tool that allows you to leave the home with confidence. Still, knowing what to include can be a challenge.

"Parenting is not easy," says Meng Li, founder of parenting gear brand Huhu. "There’s so much to juggle and keep track of and the last thing you want is to waste time and create added stress by digging through your diaper bag to find that one toy or snack your child desperately wants. Maintaining an organized diaper bag will minimize the meltdowns from your kids and reduce the mental load of parents."

To help you keep a well-packed and organized diaper bag, we reached out to parents and experts on what they recommend. From the must-haves to a few surprises, you will know just what to include—and what to leave at home.

The Must-Haves

When it comes to packing your diaper bag, you don't want to forget the essentials, but you also don't want to overdo it. After all, it can be tempting to overpack. The key is to find a balance between making sure you have everything you need while also showing some packing restraint.

"There's nothing [worse than] being stuck at a restaurant or in the car with a wet diaper and realizing you don't have what you need," says Louise Ulukaya, a NYC mother of three and founder of a sustainable baby and kids brand, Mon Coeur. "That's why before I leave the house, I always do a simple check [using] ABCD-POW, which stands for Aid, Bags, Cream, Diapers, Powder, Onesie, and Wipes."

Experts like Ulukaya each have their own list of "must-haves," which we have melded together to come up with the ultimate diaper bag checklist. Of course, you may want to adjust this list to fit the season or the specific needs of your child.


There's a reason why the bag holding your baby's essentials is called a "diaper bag." After all, diapers are at the top of the list in must-haves, especially because babies who are eating well will soil quite a few diapers in a day's time.

"My rule of thumb for infants is to pack one diaper for every two hours you will be away from home," says Li. "For toddlers who don’t create wet or dirty diapers as often as infants, I usually pack two to three diapers for the day. But, I prefer to pack more diapers than you’ll likely need, just in case."


Every parent we talked to prioritized wipes. Instead of those large, bulky packages, consider purchasing a travel size and refill it each time it is empty. Or, simply put a few wipes in a ziploc bag.

"You never know when a 'poopsplosion' is going to happen, so pack more wipes than you think you’ll need," suggests Li. "I like the Butipods reusable, stay-moist wet wipe pouch, but a ziploc bag of 15 to 20 wipes also works."

Changing Pad

Parents have mixed feelings about changing pads, but in the event of a really messy diaper, they can be invaluable. They also are great when you are in a public place and need to use a changing table, especially if you pack disposable changing pads that can be tossed when you are done.

"A portable changing pad and hand sanitizer are convenient for non-bathroom changes, as well as a wet bag to store dirty outfits," says Karen Reardanz, baby products and registry expert at Babylist.

Formula/Breast Milk and Feeding Supplies

Depending on how you’re feeding your baby, you may need a stash of formula, a nursing cover, or possibly even burp cloths, says Talitha Phillips, CEO of Claris Health and licensed labor and postpartum doula. What you pack for feeding will also depend on how many kids you have and what they eat or drink.

"[If you have an infant], be sure to pack enough milk based on your baby’s feeding schedule and the amount of time you will be out," says Li. "If you’re nursing, consider packing nursing pads and a cover—whatever you need to feel comfortable during a feeding."

Change of Clothes

As mentioned earlier, you never know when your baby is going to have a diaper blowout or spit up on themselves. In addition to a clean onesie, you may want to include an extra pair of pants, socks, and shirt just in case, says Li.

"I always remind new parents not to overdo it, but to stash an extra onesie or outfit because explosions and messiness do happen," says Amy Lundy, founder of the Mother of All Baby Showers. "Don’t stress, just be prepared."

Toys and Small Books

Young babies enjoy taking in their environment, watching people, and examining their toes, but as they get older, they also benefit from developmentally appropriate toys. This is where offering small toys or books will come in handy.

"Portable toys and small books will keep your baby entertained in the stroller or at a restaurant," says Li. "A few of my favorites include the Sassy Wonder Wheel, Freddie the Firefly clip-on stroller toy, Peek-a-Boo Forest clip-on baby book, and Wee Gallery black and white flash cards.


Blankets are useful not only for swaddling your baby, but they're great for laying on the ground at a friend's house for a little tummy time. Li says she prefers a breathable muslin blanket.

"This is a versatile item that can be used as a swaddle, light blanket, a stroller shade cover, or as a makeshift burp cloth," she says. "You can’t go wrong with Aden and Anais blankets."

Comfort Items

If your child has a favorite comfort item like a pacifier or lovey, don’t forget to pack it in your diaper bag, Li says. Having these on hand will help your baby feel secure and happy when away from their familiar surroundings.

Reardanz suggests having pacifiers and small toys that are dedicated to your diaper bag. "Having a ready-to-go diaper bag means you have one less thing to think about when you’re trying to get out of the house."


Once babies start eating solid foods, they tend to enjoy snacks, especially as they move into toddlerhood. Consequently, you want to be sure you have plenty on hand just in case.

"Pack lots of snacks—more than you think they could possibly eat," suggests Li. "Some of snacks I like to pack include fruit, pureed pouches, crackers, and cheese sticks."

Just be sure what you pack is appropriate for your child's eating skills. You want to make sure that what you are feeding your little one is not a choking hazard.

The Surprise Items

Once you get beyond the must-haves, there are a few surprise items that you may want to include in your diaper bag as well. Here are some things that our experts recommend.

Plastic Bags

Sometimes when you're out, there is no place to dispose of your baby's dirty diapers. For this reason, Li suggests tossing a roll of doggie poop bags or empty plastic grocery bags into your diaper bag.

"At first, this seems like an unusual item to pack," she says. "But having a disposable plastic bag to store things like dirty diapers, soiled clothes, banana peels, and snack wrappers will come in handy if you can’t find a trash can and want to keep your dirty items isolated from the rest of your stuff."

First-Aid Kit

Scrapes and cuts happen all the time, so it can helpful to have a few bandaids and antibiotic ointment on hand.

It's also a good idea to keep some cream for diaper rashes in your bag. If your baby develops a sore bottom while you're out, you want to be sure you can treat it right away rather than waiting until you get home.

Water and Snacks for the Caregiver(s)

You also need to think about your needs while you are out. Having a reusable water bottle and a few snacks on hand can be a lifesaver and help keep you feeling your best while caring for your baby.

"We’re so usually so focused on packing items for the baby that we forget to pack for ourselves," Li says.

Wallet and Phone

It goes without saying that you will need your wallet and your phone when you leave the house. But these things can easily be forgotten in the mad dash to get out the door.

"Because the diaper bag sometimes replaces your purse, you’d be shocked how many people forget their wallets," says Phillips.

You also may want to put your keys on a carabiner hook. Then, you can hook the keys to a strap on the bag or on a loop inside the bag so that your keys are easy to find when you need them.

Self-Care Items

Whether you just had a baby or you're a seasoned pro, it is important to be prepared for surprises including when you need to replace your postpartum pad or your period shows up unannounced. You also may want to have an extra set of clothes for yourself in case your baby spits up on you.

"Post-baby, you often have no idea when that first period will surprise you," says Phillips. "An extra shirt for yourself when you’re peed, pooped, or puked on can also be helpful."

If you are worried about the clothes fitting in your bag, opt for a thin pair of leggings and a shirt that do not take up a lot of space. Or, if you have a car, leave a spare set of clothing there just in case.

You also should pack anything that you might need throughout the day like lip balm, sunglasses, and sunscreen. The key is to consider your needs as well when you are packing the bag.

"It’s easy to forget these items," says Li. "But it’s also important to keep personal care items like sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and ointment on hand."

Tips for Keeping Your Diaper Bag Organized

The trick to making your diaper bag a useful tool is to keep it clean and organized. While there are a number of ways you can do this, most of our experts recommend cleaning and restocking your diaper bag as soon as you get home from your day out.

Ulukaya also suggests investing in a high-quality yet lightweight bag that helps you organize all of your items. "Having clear compartments to separate items and fewer zippers that add unnecessary stress are key."

Here are some additional tips for keeping your diaper bag organized, clean, and ready to go in a pinch.

Make Things Accessible

A diaper bag is most useful when you can find what you need, says Reardanz. "Having to root around your bag to find that pacifier while your baby is crying at a restaurant can just add stress to your situation."

Li recommends "filing" the items in your bag rather than stacking them on top of one another. It's hard to find things when items are placed on top of each other, she says. Instead, place them like file folders in your bag.

Utilize Organization Tools

Use the pockets and packing pouches in your bag to keep items organized and avoid tossing everything into the main compartment, suggests Li. You also can look to different products like boxes or bags for pacifiers, zipper packs for diapers, and other organizational tools.

"When choosing a diaper bag, think about how many pockets and compartments it comes with," says Reardanz. "For example, knowing that you always have your hand sanitizer and diaper cream in the inside left pocket can make it easier to do diaper changes when you’re in an unfamiliar setting with a squirmy baby."

Repack After Outings

Reset your diaper bag after every outing, suggests Li. "To maintain a clean and organized diaper bag, take out snack wrappers and dirty clothes after every outing. Replenish items like wipes, and replace dirty clothes with clean clothes."

Lundy says packing things up the night before put her at ease the next day. But, remember life happens, and you might forget something. Try not to stress, because you can usually pick up what you need when you're out.

Pick the Right Bag

Li suggests avoiding bags that have only one main compartment. It’s too easy to lose things or for your bag to turn into a big mess. Look for a bag that has features like pockets or storage pouches.

"I love an already-organized diaper bag that takes the guesswork out for you—and bonus points for one that is easy to clean and has built-in antimicrobial spaces," Lundy says. "I highly recommend a bag with pockets and zippers, along with compartments that you can organize while keeping items like your wallet, keys, and phone separate from your kiddo’s stuff."

For instance, wet items must be kept separate, so they will need their own pouch or spot, Lundy adds. You also will want to have any of your tech items like a phone or iPad in a zippered protective compartment.

"Think of your diaper bag as your safety net filled with the essentials to make your life easy and stress-free when you’re on the go," Lundy says. "But, do not think of it as a suitcase that must contain half of your kitchen or baby’s closet. You have to carry this, plus your baby, so make it manageable."

Your Ultimate Diaper Bag Checklist
  Feeding Supplies (formula, nursing cover, burp cloths) 
  Changing Pad 
  Comfort Items 
  Toys and Books 
  Extra Outfit for Baby
  Snacks or Food for Baby 
  Plastic Bags 
  Wallet and Phone 
  Extra Clothes for You 
  Water and Snacks for You 
  First Aid Kit 
  Feminine Hygiene Products 
Self-Care Items (lip balm, sunscreen)
4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. How often and how much should your baby eat?

  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Changing diapers.

  3. National Association for the Education of Young Children. Good toys for young children by age and stage.

  4. American Academy of Pediatrics. Selecting healthy snacks for toddlers.

By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert.