When it comes to new parenting advice, we are not typically those people who want to provide you with a laundry list of must-haves, to-dos, or any other type of information overload. We know firsthand that being a parent, especially for the first time, is filled with a spectrum of emotions. From the excitement of meeting your new baby to the nervousness that comes with all of the unknowns along the way, blossoming into a parent is a unique and beautiful experience in its own right.
The one thing we can tell you is that being prepared is the best way to transition from pregnancy to parenthood. Although “be prepared” feels like such a basic phrase, it is the only piece of advice we think is worth passing along.
Now, don’t get us wrong, we know that there is a lot that you cannot prepare for when it comes to parenting, but there are things that you can control entirely, such as what you pack in your diaper bag when you’re ready to venture out. In this instance, you can never be too prepared.
Whether you’re hoping to find the ultimate list of packable items for a newborn or just want to make sure what you’ve packed for your 6-month-old is enough, we’ve got you covered. As parents ourselves, we have this unique ability to not only create diaper bags that work for an on-the-move family, but we know exactly what you should pack in them, too.
Diaper Bag Essentials
“Essentials” is such a loosely used word nowadays, isn’t it? In every aspect of our lives, we have to filter out the “must-haves” from the “nice-to-haves” to create a balance that makes sense for our own needs. This same sentiment applies to caring for our babies. Your diaper bag should be thought of as your “nursery on the go,” a place where you can grab what you need to take care of your baby when you’re away from home.
While a container filled with toys, for example, would be nice-to-have, it’s just not necessary or practical to house within your diaper bag. On the other hand, diapers and wipes are a non-negotiable “must-have” because no one, and we repeat no one, wants to experience a poop-cident without the proper replacements and cleaning equipment on deck.
Your diaper bag will quickly become your new sidekick, a best friend of sorts that you need to have by your side whenever you and your baby decide to step outside. A diaper bag is definitely a must-have when it comes to baby gear.
If you haven’t decided on a diaper bag for you and your baby, don’t stress it, we’ve put together a diaper bag buying guide to help you decide on the right bag for you before the arrival of your newest bundle of joy. Oh, and, If you’re in the market for a diaper bag that’s suitable for both mom and dad, you should check out our gender-neutral and eco-friendly Elkin diaper bag backpack. When it comes to a sidekick, the Elkin is loyalty in bag form.
We have a new line of eco-friendly products that are excellent gifts for traveling families. Our XO Collection consists of the following:
Now- let’s dive into some of the must-have items for your diaper bag. Consider this your unofficial diaper bag checklist.
The primary function of a diaper bag is to, well, diaper your baby, as the name itself suggests. Frequent changes are common, especially during the first few months of your baby’s life. Ensuring you have enough changing materials in your diaper bag is key to avoiding any accidents that can’t be taken care of quickly. Not only will the right type and amount of changing items help keep your baby clean and comfortable, but it will also alleviate any stress and headaches for you.
We recently published a guide for new parents on How To Change A Diaper When Traveling.
When it comes to diapers, you can never be too prepared. It is a good rule of thumb to pack one diaper for every two hours you plan to be away from home, plus a few extras to deal with any unexpected messes.
Wipes have a multipurpose superpower. They’re just as great for messy bums as they are for dirty faces and sticky fingers. So grab a travel-size container of wipes you can easily fit into your on-the-go diaper bag and make sure to refill it before each outing.
Diaper accidents don’t discriminate. From the airplane to the middle of dinner at your favorite restaurant, your baby could need a diaper change anywhere, and most locations don’t have clean and comfortable areas to change your baby’s diaper, which is why carrying your own changing pad is essential.
Not only do they ensure your baby is comfortable throughout the change, but they’re also kept safe from germs that could be lurking on public changing tables. In addition, most are made to easily wipe clean and fit nicely in your diaper bag.
As parents, we understood the importance of having a changing pad anywhere. That’s why POTN’s Elkin & Avalon diaper bags come equipped with portable changing pads that easily stow away when not in use. They’re the perfect size for your growing baby.
Diaper Cream or Diaper Rash Ointment
Diaper cream or ointment is a staple to keep your baby feeling comfortable even when they’re experiencing a rash. Grab a travel-sized tube to keep in your diaper bag to apply as needed during diaper changes.
Having babies quickly equates to having inevitable accidents that will require a clean set of clothes.
From experience, we can assure you that most diaper accidents, food spills, and bottle mishaps that affect clothing somehow happen when you’re away from home, which is why it’s so important to pack an extra set of clothes to change your baby into if needed.
Our advice is to pack the spare set of clothing in a separate small bag that you can use to house the soiled clothing after changing. This helps you easily transport the dirty clothes without affecting anything else in the bag. Make sure to choose weather-appropriate clothing options and change out your spare clothes in your bag each season.
We can undoubtedly say that this is a diaper bag essential that you don’t fully appreciate until you need it.
Diaper Disposal Bags
The reality of life outside the house is that you may not always have access to a trash can to dispose of dirty diapers. However, diaper disposal bags will keep the smell of a dirty diaper from becoming overwhelming while keeping your other in-bag essentials clean. The only advice we have on this is to make sure to choose biodegradable and eco-friendly ones.
Eating & Feeding
Sorry mom and dad, the baby’s feeding schedule runs the show, even if you have to make it to that epic outdoor adventure or family-friendly work meeting. Packing, eating, and feeding essentials for your baby is crucial for any trek away from home, no matter how long you plan to be out of the house.
You probably already know this, but the first few months are very hit or miss when it comes to solidifying a feeding schedule. Having bottling needs on hand is vital to keep your baby full and comfortable on the go. Of course, as babies grow, their feeding schedule changes, but having snacks or other feeding items is still beneficial, especially in instances where you’re out longer than you planned.
Bottle + Formula or Pumped Breast Milk
If your baby is actively feeding with bottles, it is important to pack their regular bottles and formula or pumped breast milk. It is also imperative to ensure any pre-made bottles or breast milk remain cold until feeding time.
If your diaper bag has a built-in insulation pocket, like the Elkin, toss in a few reusable ice packs and your child’s favorite drinks and snacks. This is the perfect solution to keep perishables cold while also allowing them to remain easily accessible for on-the-go parents to grab when needed. If not, ensure your bottles are tightly wrapped in a separate cooler-style bag with ice packs to keep them from spoiling.
Calculate how often your child feeds and pack enough to cover a little over the time you plan to be away from home.
Burp Cloths / Bibs
Burp cloths and bibs pair well with bottle feedings and post-meal cleanup. Throw a few clean cloths or bibs into your bag that you can easily pull out before feeding time.
Food, Snacks, and Water
If you have an older baby or toddler who can currently eat solids, packing snacks and food is essential for trips away from home. Grab their favorite go-to items and ensure you have enough for the time you will be gone.
When packing food and snacks for your little one, it helps to have an insulated mini travel cooler to store your food until it’s needed.
If your baby is at an age where they can drink water, pack their favorite sippy cup and enough water to keep them hydrated.
Our expert tip? Don’t forget the toddler utensils. They make mealtime on the go so much easier for everyone.
Diaper Bag Extras
Having limited room means you’ll have to choose which extras you’ll carry in your diaper bag. It’s also important to keep the weight of your bag to a minimum as you don’t want to be lugging around a bag that is too heavy for your trip, especially if you’re walking or carrying your baby.
Although not considered necessary, here are some of our favorite “nice-to-have” diaper bag extras.
Baby blankets are a great “nice to have” option in your diaper bag. Not only are they helpful in keeping your baby warm when cold, but they are also a great way to shade them from the sun, cover them from pesky bugs, protect yourself during a breastfeeding session, and comfort them during a nap.
An added bonus? Blankets are lovely for impromptu picnics or play sessions at a park.
Grab a travel blanket or some that can easily fit in your bag without feeling too bulky or in the way.
If your child uses a pacifier, packing an extra one (or two) is helpful as they can easily be lost or misplaced on the go. Store them in a sanitary bag away from other items in the bag to keep them clean and ready to use when needed.
Sunscreen & Bug Spray
Available in travel sizes, sunscreen and bug spray are nice options to carry and use for babies six months and older, especially if you plan to spend most of your time outdoors. Choose options that are safe for their skin and safe for the environment.
Our expert tip? Feel free to apply the baby-stowed sunscreen for older children and adults, too. It’s a win-win to have on hand.
Toys are the best way to occupy a busy and curious baby and toddler.
Although you shouldn’t pack your bag full of toy options, stow away a few of their favorite, smaller toys to quickly grab if they become bored or cranky. Toys can make a world of difference in keeping your child busy, especially when you can’t directly entertain them.
First Aid Kit
Having bandages or a small first aid kit in your diaper bag is a great way to prepare for an accident without taking up too much room in your bag. As parents, we understand how bandages can be the instant cure to the inevitable boo-boos from the playground or toddler-sized adventure. So grab a travel-sized kit at your local grocery store or pharmacy.
It is also a good idea to pack a travel-sized hand sanitizer along with your first aid kit. This helps you sanitize your hands before and after taking care of any scrapes or cuts, reducing the risk of infection for your child.
Diaper Bag Packing & Organization Tips
Now that you have the essentials checklist, it is another feat in itself to pack and organize your bag.
We understand that diaper bags have limited space, and some items will need to be more easily accessible, such as diapers and wipes.
Below we provide some tips to help pack and organize your diaper bag. This will help to ensure that you’re able to easily locate and retrieve items when you need them.
One of our favorite ways to ensure the items in your diaper bag backpack are easily accessible while you’re on the go is to use stroller straps. They take the worry away from fumbling through a bag while you're mobile.
Pack Diaper Bag Essentials Into Smaller Bags by Use Case
The best way to organize your diaper bag is into smaller bags by use case. After going through the above checklist, consider what is most important and most used when you and your baby are on the go.
Pack the least used items first, at the bottom of your bag, and build up from there, ensuring that the most used items are readily available on the top of the bag.
Measuring water and formula in advance for your baby’s bottles will make it easier to simply mix the two and feed your baby quickly when needed. This idea takes the hassle out of measuring on the go and gets your baby fed sooner.
Reorganize Your Bag Before an Outing
It is almost impossible to go out with your baby and not use anything you packed in your diaper bag. Because you’re often grabbing and using things with each outing, it is imperative that you go through the bag, add in any used supplies, and reorganize it before your next trip outside of the house.
We recommend doing this ahead of time, so you’re not fumbling around last minute before you have to get out the door.
Wrapping up our Diaper Bag Checklist
We know that having a baby is a monumental moment in itself. From deciding on what baby gear to use to determining exactly what you need to pack when you leave the house can feel overwhelming. We are here to help you take the guesswork out of parenting so you can focus on what matters most: loving and supporting your child as they grow through all stages of their life.
As you’re making your way through this diaper bag checklist, we hope that you find things that are both practical and helpful to your everyday life. We also hope that when choosing things like diapers, bottles, wipes, and pacifiers, you support brands that focus on sustainability, like Product of the North. Together we can actively choose to support a greener, healthier planet for all, especially the children of the future.