What Should I Pack in the Diaper Bag?

Mother changing baby boy (9-12 months) on floor, father on sofa

John Howard / Iconica / Getty Images

When it comes to packing a diaper bag, it pays to be prepared. Consequently, we put together a list of items that most mothers include in their diaper bags—especially if their kids are spending all day with a relative or on a day trip with mom and dad.

Here's an overview of the items we recommend you can pack to make sure you're prepared for whatever may come up when you're out and about. Remember, some items may vary depending on whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding and whether your child is eating solid foods.

Diapers and Clothing

Probably the most important things to include in your diaper bag are diapers, changing materials, and extra clothes. That would include must-have supplies like ointment, wipes, and ziplock bags. For instance, many parents will buy separate wipes and ointment to keep in the diaper bag so that they don't have to grab those items before they head out the door.

Additionally, you should always have a couple changes of clothing in the bag—especially because babies can be messy. But, you also may want to include a sleeper, as well as clothing for different temperatures, too, if you're going to be gone a long time.

For instance, you may leave in the morning and have your baby dressed slightly warmer and then find that your baby is getting too hot when the afternoon sun comes out. The best idea is to prepare for multiple scenarios. Here's an overview of what you should include:

  • 6-8 diapers, depending on how long your outing is going to be
  • Travel-sized container of wipes
  • Changing pad
  • Diaper rash ointment
  • 2 changes of clothing
  • Ziplock bags for soiled clothing and diaper disposal
  • Hat(s) appropriate for shade or warmth

Feeding Items

Determining what feeding items you need to pack will depend a lot on whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby. Likewise, if your baby is eating solids or finger foods like dry Cheerios, you may want to include those items, as well.

It doesn't hurt to include a change of clothes for yourself, as well. When you least expect it, your little one could spit up on your shoulder after a feeding.

Rather than be forced to wear spit-up the rest of the day, you'll appreciate having a change of clothes. You may even want to include a stain stick for those accidents. But here are the basics that you will need to include:

  • Bottles if formula feeding
  • Cans of formula or containers of pre-measured formula
  • Burp cloths
  • Bottled water for you (and your baby if using powdered formula)
  • Jarred food and spoons
  • Finger foods or dry snacks if your baby eats them
  • Portable snacks for you
  • About two to three bibs

Toys and Soothing Items

Babies need to be entertained. They can experience both boredom as well as overstimulation. So, you need to be sure you have some things to keep your baby occupied, especially if you're going to a location that doesn't have kid-safe toys. Likewise, these toys and soothing items can come in handy when you're in the car and your baby is cranky:

  • Pacifiers if your baby uses them
  • Comfort toys
  • Teething rings
  • Baby-safe ball
  • Hard, plastic toys like rattles and toy keys
  • Small, durable books (board books work great)

Safety and Emergencies

To be prepared, every mom should have a small first-aid kit in their diaper bag. You never know when your baby or toddler will get a little scrape or bruise, or even develop a fever.

Additionally, you should always have a cell phone with you (if you have one) in case of emergencies.

You never know when you might need to contact the pediatrician with a question about your baby's health. Here's an overview of some other things you might need.

  • Band-aids
  • Child's fever reducer/pain reliever like Tylenol or ibuprofen
  • Thermometer
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Saline solution
  • Tissues
  • Sunscreen for both you and the baby
  • Cash for emergencies
  • A card with emergency numbers (like yours and your spouse's, the pediatrician, and a few key family members)

Packing Tips

As you prepare to pack your diaper bag for a day trip, you may want to consider getting everything together the night before, especially if you're leaving early in the morning.

This way, you don't have to rush around trying to find everything you need. Here are some additional tips that will help you make sure you have everything you need while you're out.

  • Pack plenty of diapers. You'll want one for about every two hours you plan to be out. And then throw in a few extra in case of emergencies.
  • Choose clothing and sleepers with the weather in mind. Keep in mind, if you choose to pack a blanket, that the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against using it when your baby is sleeping. So it will likely just be used to put on the floor to give your baby some tummy time.
  • Use a carabiner clip for your keys, especially if you have a habit of forgetting or losing your keys. Get in the habit of attaching the keys to your belt loop or your body as soon as you turn the car off. This way, you always know where the keys are.
  • Consider keeping powdered formula in your diaper bag if your baby is formula fed. Even if you don't use it on a regular basis, powdered formula is extremely convenient because it doesn't require refrigeration or ice packs and it can still be used after the can is opened. Just measure the powdered amount in a clean, empty bottle and pack a few bottled ​waters to mix when you're ready.

A Word From Verywell

A well-stocked diaper bag is every mom's best friend—especially if you keep it packed and ready to go. Then, there is no mad dash around the house looking for the things you need. You can just add a few essentials like clothing and your baby's favorite things, and you're ready to head out. To make sure your diaper bag works for you, select one that will accommodate all of your needs. You will be glad you did.

2 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. Yogman M, Garner A, Hutchinson J, Hirsh-Pasek K, Golinkoff RM; Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health; Council on Communications and Media. The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children. Pediatrics. 2018;142(3):e20182058. doi:10.1542/peds.2018-2058

  2. Moon RY; Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Evidence Base for 2016 Updated Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. Pediatrics. 2016;138(5):e20162940. doi:10.1542/peds.2016-2940

By Stephanie Brown
Stephanie Brown is a parenting writer with experience in the Head Start program and in NAEYC accredited child care centers.