I remember the first time my husband and I had to venture out of the house with our newborn baby. He was only a week old and we had to go to his first checkup at the hospital. I grabbed baby Humphrey and was about to walk out the door and then realized, “oh wait I need to bring a ton of crap on this adventure don’t I?”
And I really had no idea what I needed to bring. The nurses don’t exactly prepare you for these things. They just pull a tiny baby out of your belly, hand it over, and send you on your merry way without any instructions.
My diaper bag has evolved over the past 6 months and I’ve finally perfected it (I think). After running into some sticky blowout and meltdown situations, I’ve zeroed in on the most important things that should never be left behind. Check out my list of essentials below!
My Diaper Bag
I refuse to carry the classic (unattractive, boring) “diaper bag” and instead opt for something cute but also functional. This Colombian Wayuu Bag fits everything listed above plus a few extras (wallet, sunglasses, and almond milk for my coffee) and I don’t feel like a mom-nerd carrying it.
And since it doesn’t look like a typical diaper bag, you can use it for whatever else you want as well. It’s my everyday bag whether I’m hauling all of this baby stuff around or not!
What to Pack in Your Diaper Bag
1. Travel Diaper Changing Pad
Unless you research the bathroom changing table situation of your destination ahead of time, you may find that you have to get creative. Personally, I’ve changed my baby’s diaper on a toilet seat, on his stroller, and even on the ground. So having a travel diaper changing pad made it a whole lot easier (and a lot less risky as he has a tendency to pee all over himself as soon as his diaper is off).
I love this one by Skip Hop because it has lots of pockets for diapers, wipes, sanitizer, and anything else you need. Plus it folds up to fit in your diaper bag and is easy to disinfect. It’s also long enough to accommodate older babies.
I never leave home for adventures with my baby without it!
This is a no-brainer but I should mention that I always carry more diapers than I should actually need. I’ve had situations where blowouts and other unforeseen poop emergencies have caused me to need more than what might seem reasonable.
Plus it’s nice to have extras in case your parent friends run out and need to borrow. If I plan to be out for 3-4 hours, I usually bring at least 5 diapers, just to be safe.
We love The Honest Company diapers because they’re hypoallergenic and eco-friendly!
Another no-brainer but I actually like to keep a package of wipes in my travel changing pad and a small packet that is more easily accessible in my bag. That makes them convenient for cleaning up any messes or for cleaning off toys that my baby inevitably throws on the floor.
We love Seventh Generation wipes because they are alcohol and fragrance-free and unscented for your baby’s sensitive little tush.
4. Hand Sanitizer
There will be times when you’ll have to change your baby in very strange places and you won’t be near a sink to wash your hands. Or you’ll find it impossible to leave your baby on the changing table for even a second while you wash up or he’ll roll right off and onto the floor.
For those reasons (and many more) I always carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my diaper bag. I find that it comes in handy for lots of poopy adventures that occur during our excursions.
I always opt for alcohol-free hand sanitizer, otherwise, my hands dry out!
5. Change of Clothes
Speaking of poopy adventures, if I had a dollar for every time my baby had a blowout while we were in a mall or a restaurant or a park, I’d trade in all of the dollars for less disgusting messes to clean up.
We actually had 2 blowouts today and only had 1 extra outfit on hand which isn’t exactly ideal. One of those blowouts dripped down my husband’s leg and puddled on his shoe.
I always bring an extra change of clothes for baby, although I should probably start bringing them for mom and dad too!
6. Trash Bag
Continuing with the essential extra outfit listed above, you’ll also want somewhere to put the outfit that is now covered in poop. Sticking it back into your diaper bag isn’t exactly sanitary. Keep a bag of some sort with you for storing the soiled clothes.
7. Teething Toys and/or Pacifier
A pacifier is a bit of an afterthought for me because my baby won’t keep them in his mouth. But for most parents, this is probably imperative. A pacifier is especially important to save you from embarrassment if your baby has a meltdown in the middle of a packed restaurant.
Around month 4, our little one started aggressively chewing on his hand, our hands, and anything else he could fit in his mouth. Don’t be fooled when this starts – it’s just developmental, not a sign of teething.
But there are many times when we’re out in public and I’ve been touching god only knows what so I’d rather keep my hands out of my son’s mouth. Having a few teething toys on hand for him to gnaw on is clutch.
I don’t know what it is about this Sophie the Giraffe teether but every baby loves it!
8. Entertaining Toys
I find that just being out of our apartment and seeing new people and having new adventures keeps my baby fairly entertained. For a bit. But after 30 minutes or so I have to start getting creative.
So I always toss a few of his favorite toys in my diaper bag before heading out the door to keep him entertained. I prefer to bring toys with loops or hooks so I can attach them to something or they’ll inevitably end up on the floor.
9. Muslin Blanket
I always pack a lightweight muslin blanket in my diaper bag for a few reasons. First, in case we go somewhere that is blasting the air conditioning, I can use it to cover bub’s legs and feet.
Second, I can lay it down on any surface before laying him on top of it. I often lay him on comfy bench seats at restaurants where 100 butts have been sitting which grosses me out just a little so I like to have a barrier.
And finally, if he falls asleep in his stroller (win!), I use the blanket to drape over the front to block out excess light and noise so he’ll (hopefully) sleep longer.
This one is for me. I find that my mouth gets as dry as the Sahara Desert when I’m breastfeeding. And it’s easier to manage drinking out of a straw when I only have one hand free. So I love this spill-proof stainless steel tumbler with a straw by Contigo.
I can throw it in my diaper bag without worrying that it will spill, and easily gulp it down while in the middle of feeding my baby. I never leave home without it!