We’ve all been there—You’re standing in the cramped corner of a public bathroom with a naked, wailing infant on the changing table, rummaging around your stylish diaper bag for a wipe and a clean diaper. Your fingers move past the toys, extra shirts, and baggies, only to come up with… nothing.

Knowing how to pack your diaper bag for optimum performance in a crisis situation is key because let’s face it, every moment in motherhood is basically a crisis situation. As moms, we have to anticipate every possible scenario our little ones might possibly throw at us, and that can mean bringing a lot (like A LOT) of stuff with us when we leave the house. So as you work through this diaper bag list and figure out what you and your baby definitely need, don’t forget to read our tricks and tips on how to pack diaper bags so you can make your life easier. (Diaper changing hacks like packing certain items together in small bags and having an emergency changing kit made that you can grab in a pinch are game-changers!)

Related: How to change a diaper: A step-by-step guide

So what do I need in my diaper bag?

The key is to think about what items you actually use on any given day to meet your child’s needs. Now imagine how you’ll pack all of those items in one bag without bringing too much extra stuff. For example, are three different winter hats for one toddler necessary? Probably not. A backup onesie for your newborn? Yes, always. Also, consider the age of your child—a diaper bag for a potty-training toddler vs. a breastfeeding infant will look quite different, as any veteran mom will tell you.

And, the season and climate you’re in will dictate what types of items you should include. A mom who lives in southern California doesn’t need nearly as much warm winter gear as one in northern Michigan. The mom in SoCal will probably need sunscreen and a sun hat for baby, whereas the northern mom is more likely to toss an extra winter hat and gloves into her bag.

One trick to packing your diaper bag with all of your essentials is to think about your child’s typical day. Must-haves? Diapers, wipes, a portable changing pad. Extra clothes for newborns who love those diaper blow-outs—always a necessity. But also, extra clothes for toddlers who love saying “uh-oh, Mommy” when they don’t make it in time are just as important. For both cases? Plastic bags to wrap up stinky diapers or bring home dirty clothes in!

Related: ‘Divide and conquer’ works for us—and this unisex diaper bag makes it easy

Wondering “What do I need in my diaper bag?” Here are 15 important items for your diaper bag list.

1. A good diaper bag, of course!

There are endless choices out there—from high-end to low cost, from simple styles to bags with a sea of pockets, zippers and adjustable straps. This one really comes down to personal preference, budget, and the lifestyle you live. Talk to your friends who are in the same stage of life as you, ask them if the love/hate their diaper bag, what they look for when picking one out. Read some reviews, do a little research, and pick a bag that seems like it fits your mom style.

Mina Baie Vegan Stevie diaper bag backpack

Mina Baie


Stevie Backpack (Vegan)

This design is made from amazing vegan leather, it’s durable and easy to clean. (And yes, it’s a diaper bag!) You can do the mom thing your way with no fuss. Whenever you leave the house you’ll find yourself reaching for this beauty because she’ll keep you organized, hands-free, and feeling your absolute best.

Fisher Price Signature Quilt Diaper Backpack

Fisher Price


Signature Quilt Diaper Backpack

Four and half stars and hundreds of reviews suggest this affordable bag from Fisher-Price hits all the marks. It not only features plenty of pockets to keep everything organized, it can also keep three bottles or sippy cups cold in the insulated front pocket!

Skip Hop backpack diaper bag

Skip Hop


6-Piece Diaper Bag Backpack Set

This adorable diaper bag / backpack combo comes with a long list of accessories, including a pacifier pocket, a changing pad, stroller straps, a bottle bag and a packing cube as well as nine pockets (yes, NINE!) for ultimate organization. Choose from three color options—black, dove, or blush—all of which come with a beautiful quilted detail that wipes clean (which, let’s be honest, is what matters most).

Related: This beautiful handbag is actually a diaper bag

2. Diapers

For a baby 0-3 months, pack 2 diapers for every hour you’ll be out. For 3-12 months, 1 diaper for every hour. (A good rule of thumb: anticipate how many you *think* you’ll need, then cram in a couple more. You’ll thank yourself later for being over-prepared.) Also, if you’re heading to the beach or pool, don’t forget swim diapers!

Charlie Banana Cloth Diaper System

Charlie Banana


Cloth Diaper System

Going the cloth diaper route? The one-size, grow-with-baby design of the Charlie Banana cloth diaper system makes them easy to use from day one through the diaper years. They can be used with reusable inserts and disposable inserts alike.

Kit includes five diapers and five inserts.

Pampers Pure Diapers

Pampers Pure


Hypoallergenic Disposable Baby Diapers – 198 count

For disposable diapers, a tried and true and most importantly trusted brand by parents for decades, the Pampers line of all natural, plant-based diapers (called Pampers Pure) are extremely breathable and absorbent, keeping your baby’s bum dry and free of diaper rash. Plus, they’re chlorine, fragrance, paraben and latex free! Conveniently, they’re widely available in your local super markets and drug stores or on Amazon!

Healthybaby Monthly Diaper Bundle



Monthly Diaper Bundle

When it comes to safety, sustainability and performance, Healthybaby diapers check all the boxes and then some. As the first (and only) diapers verified by the EWG, they’re setting a new standard in the diaper industry. Their premium, plant-based disposable diapers took three years to develop and are tested for over 900 chemical compounds, assuring parents that they’re the purest on the market. Ordering Healthybaby’s Monthly Diaper Bundle ensures you have a consistent supply of high-quality diapers for your little one and will never run out.

3. Wipes

You need two kinds—one for cleaning baby’s tender skin and another for sanitizing surfaces that baby will touch and wiping down the portable changing pad. (Pro tip: store these in separate compartments so you don’t grab cleaning wipes in a rush and accidentally wipe your baby’s tender skin with a disinfectant!)

water wipes

Water Wipes


240 Count Toddler and Baby Wipes

Moms love Water Wipes because they are made from almost entirely… well, water. And for their baby’s soft, delicate skin, they definitely want wipes free from harmful chemicals that could cause skin damage. Wipes that are 99.9% water-based, plant-based, hypo-allergenic, and unscented but get baby clean? Well it’s not hard to see why these are so popular.

seventh generation baby wipes

Seventh Generation


Baby Wipes – 768 count

Great for sensitive skin, these thick, soft wipes offer safe and gentle cleaning for baby’s bottom, hands, and face. They’ve been dermatologist tested and are hypoallergenic, fragrance free, and don’t contain any alcohol or parabens. Prices vary.

Dapple wipes



30-Count Hypoallergenic Cleaning Wipes

Made without harsh chemicals like parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil, synthetic dyes and fragrances, chlorine, or alcohol, Dapples’s wipes are plant-based, have a hint of lavender, and will leave surfaces squeaky clean for your baby to be able to play safely.

4. Hand sanitizer

Whether its cold / flu / RSV / season or not, it’s always good to sanitize your hands before and after changing baby (and likely having touched all sorts of germy surfaces while out in public). Plus, you’ll want hand sanitizer to be accessible for cleaning your hands (and baby’s hands) before snack time as well.

Baby Bum hand sanitizer spray

Baby Bum


3-Pack Hand Sanitizer Spray

After cleaning baby’s bum, clean your hands with some Baby Bum! This antibacterial hand sanitizer spray kills germs, is gentle and safe for little hands, and matches the theme for your diaper bag! Baby Bum’s plant-based formula contains coconut oil, banana and aloe and is vegan, cruelty, gluten and dye-free, which means it’s safe for all members of the family to use.

Hello Bello hand sanitizer spray

Hello Bello


Hand Sanitizer Spray

Hello Bello hand sanitizer spray is a safe and effective germ-killer to have in your diaper bag. Made without synthetic fragrances or artificial dyes, Hello Bello’s alcohol-based formula gets your hands clean while leaving no sticky residue.

5. A portable changing pad

Leaving the house means it’s very likely you will have to lay your child down on some sort of surface—whether that’s the ground, floor, a park bench, or a bathroom changing table—and you’ll feel 1000x better about doing so if you can provide a thick, waterproof layer between your precious bundle and whatever hard surface is beneath them. Make sure your changing pad is easy to wipe clean and, for your convenience, tuck a diaper and a few wipes into the pad’s pockets so when you unfold it, the items you need are right there at your disposal.

Skip Hop portable changing pad

Skip Hop


Black and White Stripe Portable Changing Pad

This super-cute portable changing pad has everything you need—it’s extra wide and easy to wipe clean, it has a translucent wipes case so you can see the current status of your wipes supply (don’t want to run out of those!), and it has all the mesh pockets you need for your diaper-changing essentials.

Royal Rusu portable changing pad

Royal Rusu


Portable Diaper Changing Pad

This portable changing pad comes with a comfy built-in cushion for baby’s head, lots of convenient storage pockets for diapers and wipes, and even a bonus bottle bag to  make your life easier!

portable diaper changing pad



Diaper Changing Mat

Not everyone wants a changing pad with a million pockets. For some parents, the simpler the better! Here’s an option that will save you a few bucks and still get the job done by keeping baby off of dirty surfaces while you change their diaper.

6. Deodorized bags

Your kids are going to get stinky—that’s just the reality of parenthood. So it’s crucial that you pack some small deodorized bags so you can wrap up stinky diapers and contain the smell until you can find a trash can. These bags are also essential for dirty clothes after a diaper blow-out or potty-training accident. (If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll take approximately 11 eons to master the art of “getting there in time” so you might need this diaper bag essential for years to come. Godspeed.

Ubbi bag refills



36-Pack Ubbi On The Go Refill Bags

Do yourself a favor and grab a pack of these lavender-scented bags from Ubbi On The Go. Those diapers can be brutal sometimes, and having a way to block the stink will make going out of the house much more pleasant (for you, and for those around you!)

Ubbi bag dispenser



Retractable On the Go Bag Dispenser

But wait! Don’t just get plastic bags that can be hard to access with one hand while you keep your squirmy baby in place with the other! You should also gift yourself a bag dispenser like this one that can be clipped to your stroller, diaper bag strap, or stored inside your diaper bag side pocket.

7. Extra clothes

Again, this one depends on the age of your kids and the season you’re in. As a first-time mom, I can remember learning the hard way how vital it is to have backup clothes for a newborn when my baby blew through his cute “birthday party outfit” AT GRANDMA’S PARTY and had to be carried home in a towel. By the time that same baby was potty-training a few years later, you can be sure I was well prepared with backup undies and pants!

alphabet footed pajamas

Old Navy


Unisex Sleep & Play Footed One-Piece & Beanie Hat Set

A simple footed pajama set like this one is an easy choice to toss in the diaper bag in case of a much-needed outfit change. The hat is just a cute bonus!

Star Wars onesies



3-Pack Star Wars Bodysuit

Star Wars lovers! You could toss in (especially in warmer months) a backup onesie like one of these adorable choices—making an outfit change much more fun.

toddler joggers

Cat & Jack


Toddler Micro-Fleece Joggers

Start your kids off right by teaching them the value of a good pair of joggers from a young age. Stuff a pair of comfy pants like these in that diaper bag because you never know when your child will have a potty accident or sit on a wet swing at the park.

8. Extra layers and winter gear

Particularly for those tricky in-between days or if you’re going to be out of the house from morning until night, tossing in an extra sweatshirt or a warmer zip-up pajama set for later is never a bad idea in case temps drop. Also, make sure you have an extra winter hat and gloves for when your hangry toddler rips theirs off and throws it on the ground into a puddle of mud.

heart fuzzy hoodie



Baby Heart Fuzzy Hoodie

A warm layer like this adorable baby heart hoodie is a great idea for the diaper bag—especially because your little one will refuse to admit they are cold until they change their mind and then demand a coat at that exact moment. Being prepared makes for a happy baby and happy mommy!

hat and mitten set

Hanna Andersson


Baby Faux Shearling Hat & Mittens Set

Also, having a hat and mitten set stuffed somewhere in that diaper bag is a smart move. Little fingers and little ears get cold and in the effort to keep baby happy and warm, making sure you have these extra items for low temps is key.

9. A blanket

For warmth, or for simply providing baby a safe place to lie down, crawl, or roll around and stretch their legs, having a baby blanket with you is a must. You never know when you’ll need it—and trust us, you’ll need it.

reversible blanket

Posh Peanut


Henriette Patoo Reversible Blanket

This double-layer reversible jersey blanket is thin enough to be rolled up and packed easily, but still serves the function of keeping baby warm or providing a place for baby to play if they need a little wiggle room out of the stroller.

knit blanket

Branch & Twig


Little Nest Organic Cotton Knit Blanket

For a lovely and classic choice, this knit blanket comes in three different color patterns and is soft and easy to wash with the rest of baby’s clothes.

10. Burp cloths

Spit-up is another part of motherhood that no one loves, but pretty much no one can avoid. Especially for those early months with baby, make sure you have one or two soft burp rags to toss over your shoulder because baby’s going to eat, and then… well, you know what comes next.

Burt's Bees Burp Cloths

Burt's Bees Baby


5-Pack Extra Absorbent 100% Organic Cotton Burp Cloths

You can go as fancy or as simple as you want with burp cloths, but bear in mind that they will get covered in spit-up. This organic cotton set from Burt’s Bees is soft, breathable, and folds up easily to tuck inside the diaper bag.

burp cloths



4-Pack Muslin Burp Cloths

Here’s another choice for super-soft burp cloths to pack in your diaper bag. Made from 100% muslin fabric, this 4-pack is durable, versatile, and adorably cute too!

11. Bibs

Depending on how long you’ll be out, there’s a good chance your baby will enjoy a meal. And meals mean mess, so don’t forget a bib! (Plus, lots of drooling babies benefit from wearing a bib that can catch the drool and keep it off their cute outfit.)

rainbow baby bibs



Rainbow Baby Bibs

How cute are these hand-made scalloped muslin bibs?! Even with food and drool all over them your baby will look cute on one of these.

4-pack bibs

Cloud Island


4-Pack of Black and White Bibs

This 4-pack Cloud Island set is an easy choice for affordable, durable bibs that will wash up easily too.

12. Drinks and snacks

Whether it’s bottles and formula or sippy cups and juice, don’t forget the drinks and snacks! Leaving the house with a little one means being prepared for empty tummies, so make sure you have some animal crackers or apple sauce pouches on hand to hold them over until lunch, or even for just a distraction when you desperately need their cooperation in the stroller.

Gerber 9-pack fruit and veggie pouches



9-Pack Veggie and Fruit Pouches

How did moms survive before there were pouches?! Well, thankfully we don’t have to. Chockfull of fruits and veggies and spill-proof, this 9-pack from Gerber is a no-brainer to add to your cart.

Happybaby puffs



Purple Carrot & Blueberry Superfood Baby Puffs

Here’s another baby snack veteran parents swear by. Puffs are nutritious belly-fillers, and they keep baby entertained in the stroller or your lap if you toss a few of these in a cup and let those little hands go to work.

Tommee Tippee sippy cup

Tommee Tippee


Superstar Trainer Sippy Cup

The transition from bottle or breast to cup is a quick one, isn’t it? All of a sudden, your baby is old enough for you to hand them their own drink. The leak and shake-proof Tommee Tippee Superstar Trainer Sippy Cup is a popular choice for this age when baby is first figuring it out.

13. Toys and books

Stick a favorite toy or two and a couple baby books into your diaper bag’s side pocket. This will help when you need to distract them so you can change their diaper, or when you need to keep them from grabbing Aunt Lydia’s breakable figurines next time a holiday rolls around and you’re having dinner at her very non-toddler friendly house. There are lots of reasons you might need baby’s little hands and mind to be busy, so don’t forget to bring a fun activity or two.

pipSquigz Loops

Fat Brain Toys


pipSquigz Loops

Wondering what the #1 rated baby toy is? Here you go, according to Fat Brain Toys—a leader in the children’s toy industry. pipSquigz Loops suction cup to surfaces so they are harder for baby to toss on the floor (yay), their soft silicone material is safe for baby to chew on and soothe their sore gums, and they are made from bright colors and make fun noises. What’s not to love?

soft activity book for toddlers



Soft Montessori Activity Book

Another play item to consider for the diaper bag: Montessori busy books! Made with toddlers in mind, babies can start to play with these soft fabric books too, as long as they are supervised.

Where is Baby's Belly Button book

Karen Katz


Where is Baby's Belly Button? Lift-the-Flap Book

Lift-the-Flap board books are always a hit with little ones, so a classic like Where is Baby’s Belly Button? makes an excellent choice for the “entertainment” section of the diaper bag!

14. Pacifiers, loveys, favorite soother

When packing your diaper bag, think about the chances that your baby could nap while you’re out of the house and what you’ll need to have with you to make that happen. (Because that means you might get to have a hot cup of coffee and some adult conversation!) Do you need a couple pacifiers? Baby’s favorite snuggie or stuffed elephant? Teething rings? Toss those in there too.

lovey and teething ring set



Embroidered Organic Muslin Cotton Bunny Rabbit Lovey and Teething Ring Gift Set

This matching lovey and teething ring set is soft, personalized, and will undoubtedly be one of baby’s favorite toys to self-soothe and snuggle with.

3-pack pacifiers



3-Pack of Pacifiers

Not all babies take pacifiers, but if yours does, you know how important it is that you have a few with you for cranky moments and nap time. That’s why you definitely need to make sure to stock up on your baby’s preferred brand and stick a few of those suckers in your diaper bag.

15. Children’s medication

Obviously if your child needs a prescription that you carry with you, the diaper bag is a sensible place to store it. But also, packing some children’s Tylenol with a syringe or medicine cup is a smart idea as you never know when a fever could hit or baby could bump their head, struggle with teething pain or get a gas bubble.

Little Remedies gas relief drops

Little Remedies


Gas Relief Drops for Babies

Parents and pediatricians love Little Remedies for safe, mild gas relief to soothe those little baby tummies.

infants Tylenol



Acetaminophen Liquid Medicine

It’s heartbreaking when our little ones aren’t feeling well, and as moms, we want to make them feel better as soon as possible. That’s why it’s not a bad idea to keep a bottle of infants’ Tylenol and syringe to administer proper dosage in your diaper bag so it’s always on hand.

A version of this article was published May 9, 2017. It has been updated.