diaper bag

The New Mom’s Guide: The Diaper Bag

The diaper bag. Either you carry one. You have carried one, or you’re trying to purchase items to go in someone else’s. The diaper bag is the perfect conundrum: Always the same, yet constantly changing. We all know what needs to go in it, but the more we think about it, the more confused we get.

I can remember spending hours searching blogs and YouTube videos seeking the perfect diaper bag combination. Just when I thought I had everything I needed, I found another suggestion that compelled me to start all over. I really don’t believe there’s a wrong way to pack a diaper bag, but,for a new mom or a childless friend trying to choose from the plethora of merchandise – your decision can become overwhelming. It’s true, all babies are different, but baby bags are generally the same. If you’re expecting, add these items to your registry. If you’re shopping for a friend, grab these items to keep baby and mommy happy!

The Bag

Well, we gotta start somewhere, so let’s start with the obvious. You’re going to accumulate A LOT of items. Deciding what to take and what stays home will come naturally with time. To start, you’ll need a bag that meets your needs.

Style

These days there are so many styles of diaper bags to choose from! From traditional to designer, backpack to satchel – choosing your bag can be harder than dieting in your third trimester (that’s not a challenge)! I found that it’s best to go with the style similar to what you would choose for a purse. You want to pick something you like and that you’ll want to carry! Trust me, once the baby comes, your hands will be full. You might as well love your diaper bag!

I went for a non-traditional bag. I carry a Steve Madden bag and it works perfectly for us!

Tip: Find a bag with handles and a shoulder strap for versatility!

Size & Features

I don’t know a mom who will tell you to pack a small diaper bag, at least not for a newborn. As your child grows more and more independent, you’ll need fewer items. My experience tells me that you’ll still need a sizable bag. But, big doesn’t necessarily mean bulky. And it surely doesn’t mean stuffed with useless items. In motherhood, efficiency is key! You won’t have time to go on a treasure hunt so it’s important to choose a bag that’s functional. Make sure the main compartment has a large opening making it easy to see all the contents. You’ll also want a few pockets inside and outside the bag for easy access and stowing.

Now that you’ve narrowed down what kind of diaper bag you want, let’s tackle what goes inside. I keep these 5 items in my diaper bag at all times. I know if I have all 5, then I can at least survive a short trip.

diaper bag items

(Click the items in pink to shop mine and Cheyenne’s favorites!)

  1. Diapers. Need I say more? I make sure there are 10 diapers in my bag at all times. No exceptions! Does 10 sounds excessive? It’s not. It’s probably not enough because things happen. I’ve changed three diapers back to back. Like, literally. If that had happened a few more times, I would have been out! Better safe than sorry.
  2. Wipes. It’s the peanut butter to the jelly. The sauce to the spaghetti – you get where I’m going with this. I prefer to keep a full pack of wipes in my bag. I’ll just swap out the used pack for a new one and use the old one around the house. Wipes go fast because you can use them for more than just your baby’s bum. You can use them to clean surfaces, wipe your hands or face, and so much more! I never want to run out of these. I don’t even want to imagine what that would be like!
  3. Receiving Blankets & Burp Cloths. Baby’s get drooly and sometimes they make a little mess when they eat. It’s good to have something soft handy. So why both? If you’re nursing and forget your nursing cover, your receiving blanket can double for privacy! If your baby is formula fed and you make a little mess mixing the formula, you’ve got something to clean up with! You’re welcome 🙂
  4. Change of Clothes. Accidents happen. Babies spit up and soil their adorable outfits. Especially when infants are in the stage of soft stool (sorry about that). Sometimes diapers shift and next thing you know, you’ve got wet clothes. I always keep an extra outfit just in case! Tip: bring extra socks. When you change a poopy diaper, baby’s legs naturally tuck-in and sometimes their socks get dirty. No one wants poopy socks. So if you forget to take their socks off during a diaper change, you can just swap them out for clean ones.
  5. Water and snacks. Wait, I thought this blog was a diaper bag not a lunch box?! It is, and mom needs to be in tip-top shape to care for baby! Whether you’re nursing or just exhausted from the constant demands of a newborn, you’ll need some hydration and energy to push through. Keep a bottle of water and a nutrition bar for a quick snack on the go!

So now you’ve got your fab 5! Woo-hoo! You can survive a trip to Target! But, you’re not completely out of the woods. Here are a few “just in case” suggestions:

Pumped Milk, Formula & Snacks

If your baby is formula-fed you should always keep formula with you. The great thing about formula is that if you keep the water and powder separate you don’t need to worry about temperature! I know some breastfeeding moms who keep emergency formula in case they are separated from their baby. It’s not a bad idea because you never know what could happen. For us breastfeeding mama’s, once we’ve established a good routine, it’s smart to pump a few ounces to keep in a personal cooler (click here for a pumped milk storage guide). Sometimes it’s difficult to breastfeed while out and about and having a back-up bottle can help in a pinch. Once your baby is old enough to consume solids, it’s smart to keep shelf-stable snacks handy for when baby is ready to indulge.

Books & Toys

Babies younger than two months probably won’t care much for these but as your baby’s vision and curiosity develops, it’s good to have some distractions on hand. Cheyenne’s curiosity keeps her entertained when we go places but sometimes her usual people watching isn’t enough. I keep a few board books and toys in her bag to keep her occupied when she gets bored.

Pajamas

Sometimes that visit to grandma’s lasts longer than you expected and you come home with a sleeping baby. Then, suddenly, you realize you must change her clothes and risk waking her up… OH, THE HORROR!!!!!!! We learned our lesson fast. If we’re visiting friends and family and end up staying past dusk, we change Cheyenne into her pajamas. When we get home it’s a smooth transition from car seat to bassinet.

Pacifier and Teethers

Infants grow fast and sometimes their growth comes with a little discomfort. Pack something to keep baby soothed. A pacifier or a teether can be a life saver when you’re stuck in traffic or sitting in church.

Disposable Diaper Sacks

As your baby grows, they get, well – stinkier. I like to keep a roll of diaper sacks in my bag as a courtesy to society and whoever is hosting our visit. Tip: stuff as many diapers as you can in one sack! Just make sure you can tie up the top to conceal odors.

Nursing Cover

If you’re nursing, you’ll soon be appalled at the lack of suitable nursing areas in public places. And when your baby is hungry, they won’t wait for you to find one or file a complaint! Keep a nursing cover in your bag for those times when you need to nurse in the car, sitting on the sink in a public bathroom, in the food court, in a waiting room, etc. Yep. You read those locations correctly. You never know where life will take you, but a good nursing cover can ensure your privacy.

Nursing Pads

You might be thinking this item belongs on the Fab 5 list but I discovered that every woman isn’t a leaky faucet like I am. Breastfeeding or not, you might still need breast pads in the months following delivery. Stash some in your diaper bag just in case the sprinklers come on 😉

Grooming Kit

I carried my grooming kit for the first month, then I realized I didn’t use it outside of the house. But that’s just me, it doesn’t hurt to bring it just in case. If you notice that it’s not being used, take it out to make room for what you need (i.e.: more snacks)!

So, there you have it! It’s not as simple or as complicated as you probably thought. Over time your bag packing skills will improve and before you know it you could pack with your eyes closed!

Leave a comment below and share your “must-have” items in your diaper bag!


Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.

Psalms 127:3


baby in carseat

One of Cheyenne’s first car rides!

Jaqui-Lyn Hope

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