Diaper Bag Essentials

There was a time in my life when I could hop in the car, carrying only a purse, and head out the door with absolutely no planning. Ah, those were the days! Upon having our son though, I realized that any trip out the door had to be a well-executed one and it often took hours just to get ready for our destination. As he has gotten older, I can now stash the essential items he needs conveniently in my gigantic mommy purse, but those days of enormous diaper bags are definitely not far from my memory. Here is a list of my own essential diaper bag items.


Obviously, if we are packing a “diaper” bag, we will need diapers. But how many diapers do you need? This will depend on the length of the trip and the age of your child. When they are infants, they are being changed every hour so a diaper per hour would suffice. This amount of diapers would only get you by, however, if you have no explosive emergencies. It was my rule of thumb to carry what I needed and to add two just to be safe. I would rather carry a heavier diaper bag then be stuck with a nasty emergency without the necessary tools I would need to resolve it.

Diaper Cream

Sore bottoms can happen at any time and it is good to always have some diaper cream on hand when a rash strikes.


Wipes are handy, not only for wiping little bottoms, but also for wiping messy faces. I usually carry a big sack of them with me because I use them to wipe bottoms, faces, and runny noses. Store these wipes in an airtight container to retain the moisture in them. You can also make your own wipes with this wonderful recipe:

Homemade Baby wipes


  • Strong paper towels work the best (for example, Brawny).
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup of baby oil
  • 1/2 cup baby magic baby bath


  1. Cut one roll of paper towels in half.
  2. Take out the core so wipes pull out of the center.
  3. Place 1/2 roll of paper towels in container.
  4. Pour solution over towels.
  5. Store in container. Makes 2 1/2 rolls.

Changing Pad

You never know where you will end up changing your baby and you also never can tell what the sanitary conditions will be like where you are. Keep a changing pad in your diaper bag and use a soft burp cloth for layering if the surface is too hard for your little one.

Antibacterial Gel & Wipes

Antibacterial gel really comes in handy after you have changed a dirty diaper. The wipes will also come in handy when you have to set your child in a germ-infested grocery cart, on playground equipment, or just to give your kids a good swiping after another child has sneezed on them. Trust me, you are a mother, and it is okay to be a little germaphobic especially when you are a new mommy.

Burp Cloths

These are wonderful not only for all of that spit-up, but they can also be essential in padding your changing table or cushioning a little head.

Zipper Bags

Zipper bags are one of those things that you just can’t live without especially in the early years. These bags are perfect for storing those soiled diapers, as well as soiled clothing. These items can really leave an odor in your bag, if you have nowhere to dispose of them, so tuck a couple of dryer sheets in for good measure to keep your bag smelling fresh.


Store, at least, one extra outfit for any diaper emergency. Nothing is worse than having a soiled outfit and nothing for you to change your child into. Trust me on this one- I have been there!

Feeding Supplies

Feeding supplies can mean an array of things depending on what stage your child is at and what you are feeding them. If your child is formula-fed, bottles and extra formula will be needed. For children on solid foods, they may baby food, spoons, bowls, and a small snack for the road.

Pain Reliever

It may seem like this is not a diaper bag essential, but pain relievers are a necessary component to a diaper bag. Keep acetaminophen or ibuprofen in your bag to provide pain relief. This is good to have on hand for your doctor visits when your child receives shots or when a fever or illness comes on suddenly. A teething gel is also good to have on hand when your child’s gums are swollen and painful from cutting teeth.


A blanket is great to keep your child warm when they are chilly, can be used to cover an area where they are sitting, and also can keep your child’s head propped up when they are unable to hold their head up by themselves. Blankets are also useful for your baby’s doctor check-ups because they can keep the child warm when they must be unclothed for their doctor visit.


Be sure to have a couple of toys or books on hand to provide entertainment for your child when you are out and about. The amount of entertainment you need can vary on the child’s age, but you never know how long you will have to wait for your appointments or when standing in line so be prepared.

Extra Goodies

A couple of other extra goodies that you might like to keep on hand are your cell phone, a water bottle, a snack for yourself, and nursing pads.

I know that the list is long, but as your child gets older your list will get shorter. We are now able to throw a couple of toys, a cup of juice, a snack, a couple of diapers, and a pack of wipes in our bag and walk out the door instead of all of the items listed above. Tailoring down our diaper bag essentials was something that our family looked forward to and it is nice to be able to leave the house with everything stored neatly in my purse.

Please be sure to visit our printable Diaper Bag Checklist for a quick list of what you need to get out the door. This checklist can be conveniently placed in the pocket of your diaper bag or tacked on your refrigerator to be checked off before heading out the door.

It is difficult to remember all you need when you are a new and tired mother so let us do the work for you! This tool can hopefully aid you in having a stress-free outing with your child and help you to be prepared for all of those little baby emergencies.

Published May 16, 2005 by:

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of MomAdvice.com. You can read all about her here.

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