The first time I left the house with my first-born, I completely forgot the diaper bag! I had my purse, my keys, my wallet, the all-important health insurance card, and of course, the baby, but I had none of the things I needed to take care of him. When I got to the pediatrician’s office and realized my son needed a diaper change, I felt like the worst mother ever. The doctor’s office kept a supply of diapers on hand for inexperienced moms like me, but I still felt like I had fallen down on the job right off the bat.
I’ve learned a lot since then. (One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that we’re all doing the best we can as moms, and not to beat myself up about the small stuff.) Nowadays, my kids are much older, but I could pack a diaper bag with my eyes closed if I needed to. If you’re a new mom, it might be nice to have a checklist of diaper bag essentials, so I’ve created one here, and I hope it helps!
Best Diaper Bag Essentials
- First things first: diapers, of course!
- Diaper balm or soothing diaper rash spray for rash treatment
- Hand sanitizer
- A pacifier, if your baby uses one
- Infant pain-relieving drops such as Tylenol or Motrin
- At least one change of clothes for your baby
- An extra pair of socks
- Nursing pads to protect mom’s clothes
- A burp cloth
- A “receiving” blanket — this is a thin muslin blanket that can be used in a variety of ways: as extra warmth for baby, a nursing cover-up, a car-seat cover, or rolled up and placed under your arm to provide support while you hold your baby.
- A hat and mittens
- Lip balm
- Empty bags for soiled diapers. (Recycle plastic grocery bags for this purpose if you like.)
- For older babies:
- Snacks such as puffs or baby food pouches
- One or two small toys or indestructible books
- For bottle-fed babies
- A bottle, pre-filled with water to make formula
- Powdered formula
- An extra bottle of water
Diaper bag additions for mom
It’s hard to remember to take care of yourself when you’re so focused on taking care of your new baby, but what your baby needs most in the world is a healthy and happy mom. So, while you’re taking care of baby, take care of you too! Pack some water for yourself as well as some nutritious snacks that will keep your energy up. Think nuts or dried fruit. For a quick pick-me-up on the go, try a postpartum energy boost drink mix.
The double diaper bag system
If you’re a working parent and you can swing the cost of two diaper bags, having doubles makes life with a little one a lot easier. Buy two different bags in different colors or styles (maybe a standard diaper bag and a diaper bag backpack). Reserve one for child care and the other for your outings with baby. Chances are that you’ll need to pack differently for daycare than you do for yourself, so having two diaper bags eliminates the confusion about whether or not you have what you need for each circumstance.
At first, it takes a little — well, maybe a lot — of organizing to get into the routine of traveling with everything you and your baby need for venturing out into the world. But don’t worry, you’ve got this! Download our checklist and keep it handy whenever you pack your diaper bag. You’ll be ready to go in no time!
Check off our handy dandy checklist, so you know you're ready!