Leaving home with a newborn is a terrifying experience… the first few times anyway.
What if I needed to change his diaper?
What if I forget diapers? Or run out of wipes?
What if he needed to breastfeed? (I never quite managed to master feeling comfortable feeding in public)
What if he had a blow out or a spit up and I had no clothes for him?
Finally, one of the ladies in my mother’s group gave me this piece of mind-blowing advice:
“If you forget a diaper, you can just go to the shop and buy more.”
Uh… I don’t know why I didn’t realize that? I’m blaming sleep deprivation, hormones, baby brain and all that stuff.
The point of this story?
Don’t sweat too much over what you do or don’t pack in your diaper bag. Prepare when you can, make it work when things go wrong and remember that running out of diapers or wipes mid change isn’t going to matter in the long run. It doesn’t make you a bad mom.
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How to Choose Your Diaper Bag
First things first – you need the actual bag. There are loads of purpose-built options out there, with loads of compartments and spaces for pacifiers, diapers and insulated bottle holding sections… or you could just choose any big bag and make it work.
Personally, I went with a dedicated ‘diaper’ bag as it has more useful spaces for things which you need to carry around. I also received one for my baby shower, which made the decision easier!
What Style of Diaper Bag Do You Want?
There are two main diaper bag styles:
- messenger style with a long shoulder strap
- backpack style
For my first baby I had two diaper bags in the messenger style. For baby number 2, I’m experimenting with a backpack that looks a lot like this as I think it’ll be more convenient while chasing after my 3-year old!
What to Look For When Buying a Diaper Bag
- will it fit in your stroller basket?
- or, can it be conveniently hung from your stroller?
- do you like the number and positioning of pockets and compartments?
Top Picks for Diaper Bags
Diaper Bag Essentials Kit – What to Pack in Your Diaper Bag
It takes a little while to get comfortable out and about with baby as a new mom. Once you’ve got the basics down, you’ll likely want to pare things down so you’re not lugging around a huge heavy bag.
Don’t stress about going too minimal – you can always keep a supplies in your car.
1) Diapers (5-8)
Newborns go through diapers quickly. I vividly recall the day I changed my little 8 week old in the church mother’s room. No sooner had I put the new nappy on than… well, let’s just say it needed changing again. So I did. You know what, the same thing happened! I changed him again. And he did it again! What! This is ridiculous. I think I changed his nappy 4 times in 15 minutes.
Take home message: pack lots and lots of diapers. More than you think you’ll need. (Subscribe on Amazon for great savings.)
As your baby gets older, you’ll most likely be able to cut back on the number of diapers you take in your diaper bag. Keep a back up stash in your car if you’re worried.
Lots of diapers means lots of wiping. A packet is usually enough to carry around, just keep an eye on the levels. Running out of wipes when you need them most can be really upsetting… See above story about diapers. Luckily, if you do run out of wipes and you’re around other moms, one will surely be able to give you some wipes.
Take home message: you need to have wipes.
3) Portable Change Mat
A change mat is a very useful tool to carry with you for diaper changes. It lets you turn ANY surface into a diaper-change-friendly one.
Slightly padded, clean, a little warmer than the cold parent’s room change areas. What’s not to like? Most diaper bags come with a change mat already included, but I like this one from Amazon that comes separately.
4) Diaper Sacks
Not much more to say really. An essential piece of equipment!
Money saving hack: doggy poop bags are often cheaper than baby ones and they’re basically the same product…
5) A Change of Clothes (or two)
You don’t need to carry a whole wardrobe but one or two full outfit changes is good to have, especially if you have a spitty baby.
Also, pack a layer of warm clothes in case the temperature gets cooler than expected. It’s always good to be prepared and have socks to put on cold feet. But fear not – if you find you’re missing something, you’ll learn how to improvise.
6) Zip Loc Bags
Life changing. You need them. What for? Everything. Here’s what you can do with them:
- Run out of diaper sacks? Use a zip lock bag.
- Carry a clean pacifier
- Carry snacks
- Keep a half-chewed rusk for later
- Carry a clean teething toy
- anything else you can possibly think of…
8) Burp Cloths
They don’t need to be ‘official’ burp cloths – old school cloth diapers (flats) work fantastically. Use them to soak up leaked, dribbled, or spat up milk… and anything else that happens to be going down. You can even use an old cloth diaper as a makeshift change mat in a pinch.
9) Hand Sanitizer
After dealing with bodily fluids, you’ll want to wash your hands. Hand sanitizer is a good thing to keep in your diaper bag for when you’re on the go in case you don’t have access to soap and water.
10) Disinfectant Wipes
I didn’t know this… but ordinary baby wipes don’t contain disinfectant. I know right? I thought I was doing a good thing by cleaning the high chair at the café with normal wipes before my little one sat in it. It didn’t do all that much good. Disinfectant wipes are also awesome to have if your baby uses a pacifier, they’re always falling on the ground…
11) Diaper Rash Cream
If your little one has diaper rash it’s best to be consistent with the rash cream so that it goes away as quickly as possible, which means taking rash cream on the go.
Rash cream is most cost effective when bought in a huge tub… But, you can get smaller size tubs or tubes (keep an eye out for any sample sizes you get) that are perfect size for your diaper bag. The tub style can be refilled too!
12) Snacks for Mom and Snacks and Sippy Cup for Older Babies
Being a new mom is a hungry time. You need to eat and maintain your strength so you can look after your baby. And when you’re breastfeeding, woah. Your body will let you know it. Avoid getting hangry. Bring snacks everywhere. In copious quantities.
Snack ideas: fruits like banana, apple, mandarin. Laughing Cow Cheese, crackers, pretzels, nuts, seeds.
There’s nothing worse than being caught out without water. As a new mom, especially a breastfeeding one, you need a lot of water. If you aren’t staying hydrated you’re going to feel like rubbish. So make sure you bring a water bottle along.
If your baby uses bibs (which is a great idea if your baby spits up or is drooling from teething), bring spares with you. I love the bandanna bibs – they’re ultra stylish and cool!
15) Stain Remover Pen
Bring along a stain remover pen so you can treat your baby’s clothes immediately if they catch a poosplosion or some spit up that looks like it’ll stain.
What to Pack in Your Diaper Bag for Breastfeeding Moms
If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll want to add these essential items to your diaper bag:
1) Breast Pads
An embarrassing fact about breastfeeding is that your breasts will leak milk. Sometimes with a reason, sometimes with none, if you aren’t wearing breast pads you’ll soon end up with a wet shirt in need of a wash.
Breast pads soak up or otherwise capture the leaking milk. There are a couple of different kinds that you can choose from: disposable, cloth (check out our freebie page to find out how to get some for free), or milk collection shells.
2) Breastfeeding Cover
Breastfeeding is natural but learning how to do it doesn’t always come naturally (which is why I love that this course exists – I wish I’d had access to it before my first baby was born). I’m gifted with extreme clumsiness and physical ineptitude. Breastfeeding was a struggle. And breastfeeding in public? Really tough.
That’s where a good breastfeeding cover comes in. There are these awesome ones that allow you to see baby but still provide full coverage and others that double as a scarf.
3) Anything Else You Need to Breastfeed
While you can’t take your Boppy with you in your diaper bag, you should definitely take anything else you need to be able to breastfeed. For example:
- nipple shields
Diaper Bag Essentials for Bottle Feeding Moms
For the bottle feeding moms, you’ll want to include:
- 1-2 bottles of pumped milk (pumping moms)
- 1-2 bottles of boiled, cooled water
- 1-3 scoops of formula, in a formula dispenser
Optional Items to Pack in Your Diaper Bag
I’ve noticed a LOT of diaper bag checklists include a crazy amount of stuff… kitchen sink… check!
Ok, not quite that bad… but, as a not-so-new mom anymore I’ve come to realise that you don’t really need these items in your diaper bag for daily trips about town:
- baby thermometer – if you suspect your baby is sick, you’re probably going to head home, right?
- baby nail clippers – just keep up with this at home. There’s no such thing as an ‘urgent’ nail clipping job.
- just-in-case medication, like Tylenol – if you think baby is unwell and needs medication, you’ll want to head home asap. Of course, if your baby requires any type of regular medication, take it along.
- spare shirt for mom – spit up, milk leaks, blowouts… new moms are in the firing line for a lot of messy body fluids. Having a spare shirt in your diaper bag is definitely something to consider. Alternatively, make sure you’ve got a thin cardigan (or a nursing cover that doubles as a scarf) in your diaper bag and keep a spare shirt in your car.