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What to Pack in a Diaper Bag: Advice for First-Time Parents

woman carrying diaper bag

The diaper bag is the single most important item in any new parent’s arsenal. Without the right supplies, a trip to the park, corner cafe or even grandma’s house can quickly turn uncomfortable. Not to worry! We’re up on all the must-haves to help you feel more relaxed and in control each time you step out the door. The following is the ultimate list of what to pack in diaper bags. You’ll also discover a few additional suggestions to make life easier.

1. Feeding Supplies

Chances are, your little one will need to breastfeed or consume at least one bottle while you’re out. Make sure you have the right essentials for your child’s feeding style. Breastfeeding moms may only need a nursing cover for shorter outings, while longer trips may require a manual or electric pump. Don’t forget to take all storage bags, ice packs and tubing with you, too.

Formula-fed babies will usually need bottles, formula and fresh water. In many cases, a bottle warmer is also necessary. A thermos is an excellent, low-maintenance tool for keeping clean water toasty for hours. Affordable, portable bottle warmers are also available at most baby supply stores and box stores.

2. Changing Essentials

No matter where you are going, always bring more diapers and wipes than you think you need. Some parents like to bring double the diapers, as well as a travel-size set of wipes with them.  Others take the container of wipes they use at their changing station. A changing pad or portable changing table is also helpful, especially if you’re driving in a car or spending time outdoors.

Many experienced moms also swear by carrying a roll of paper towels for those extra-messy occasions. Plastic bags are invaluable for holding dirty outfits after an accident. Cotton and cloth towels can make changing cleaner and more comfortable.

diaper bag with accessories packed

3. Extra Clothes

If you’re going out for a couple of hours, bring one to two extra sets of clothing for baby. Make sure the clothes are appropriate for the weather and are similar to the ones they are wearing. If your infant has a bodysuit on, pack at least one more. Should they have socks or gloves on, carry duplicates as well. Some climates get warmer during the day and cooler in the evening. If you’re going to be outside or in the car when it gets dark, have a jacket available.

You never know when a diaper blowout or spit up will affect your outfit, too. This is why an extra shirt and pair of pants is also a good idea for parents. If you and your son or daughter are going out for an entire day, more than a couple of garments may help you avoid an emergency trip to the store.

4. Toys and Soothers

New environments can be stressful for young children. Always bring a cozy receiving blanket, doll or other lovey with you to make them feel at ease. If you think your baby may need a distraction, bring a soft book or rattle. Infants who use pacifiers should also have one to two in their bag, in case one drops on the ground or otherwise gets dirty.

Other helpful supplies include teethers and accessory straps for pacifiers. A necklace teether is a great toy for being on-the-go. Some also come on a wrist or ankle bracelet. If your little one has a soother they can’t part with, bring a backup instead of the original. That way, you won’t lose it while you’re out—and create more stress once you get home.

3-Pack Boys Clouds Dribbler Bibs

3-Pack Boys Clouds Dribbler Bibs

Additional Helpful Extras for Baby

Don’t forget blankets, burp cloths and feeding bibs. A heavy blanket is great for getting cozy or taking a nap, while lighter covers can take the edge off air conditioning—or block out the sun on an especially bright day. Bottled water and snacks for mom and dad are also helpful for staying energized, especially if you end up staying out longer than intended. Antibacterial gel or spray will ensure you don’t take home too many germs, while a mini first aid kit can keep you from having to visit the urgent care clinic.

Make Diaper Bag Packing Extra Easy 

As the months go by, you may find there are items that are not on this list that you’d like to include for your unique baby. In the meantime, try jotting down what to pack in your diaper bag on your smartphone, checking off each item as you put it inside. After a while, getting your bag ready will become as second nature as caring for your child!