Diaper Bag 101

Wondering what to put in that shiny new diaper bag you got at your baby shower? We asked real moms their opinions and are rounding up our favorite diaper bag essentials.

As a new-mom-to-be preparing for her first baby, I had no idea what actually went in a diaper bag and felt a little overwhelmed at the thought of stocking one. Other than looking for a fierce diaper bag and stuffing it full of well, diapers, I was a little lost as to what else went in there.

I quickly polled other moms to get the 411 on what should go in a newborn diaper bag. See what they said.

Diaper bag essentials:

The dream tote

Diaper bag alternative: A stylish tote

No need to splurge on a fancy diaper bag that looks like a purse. Most moms overwhelmingly agreed that a stylish tote with plenty of pockets was the way to go for stashing diaper bag gear. New mom and SheKnows food editor Christina Haller said, “I have a gorgeous leather Michael Kors tote that I use as a diaper bag – it’s pretty big, but I carry it even if I don’t have [my daughter] with me.” 

Other favorite choices included Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bags, Vera Bradley totes, and a hobo purse. If using a purse “Make sure that it has some internal pockets for small stuff like pacifiers, socks, etc.,” said Kristin Bustamante, SheKnows editorial director and mother of two.

Try: Michael Kors Tote ($298) in Turquoise. The bold blue color can take you from summer to fall and the interior pockets will help keep baby gear organized. Plus, it’s a super chic way to transition into mommy style.

Double duty diaper bag

Stylish diaper bag: SoYoung's Charlie Bag

If both you and dad will be sharing a diaper bag, he’ll probably want a bag that won’t compromise his manhood to carry around. Get a diaper bag that’ll fit both of your needs – one that’ll keep you organized and looking chic, but he won’t be embarrassed to carry.

Some parents swear by using a backpack for full functionality. “I had a backpack diaper bag that I loved and used well into toddlerhood. It’s brown, so it doesn’t look ‘baby,’" said Betsy Bailey, founder of SheKnows.com.

Try: SoYoung’s Charlie bag ($175) available in black, khaki, and slate. Both mom and dad will appreciate the stylish, yet super functional, lifestyle bag design. It converts to a backpack for hands-free use and also comes with matching stroller straps.

Diapers and other baby gear

Obviously diapers are a key component of a diaper bag. Nancy Price, SheKnows.com founder, recommends packing at least 5-6 diapers for a newborn, even for a short outing. “Always bring more diapers than you imagine you’ll need,” she advised. “Things happen – plus, sometimes another mom or dad will need your spare!”

Moms said other diaper bag essentials include a changing pad, wipes, ointment, burp cloths, swaddle blanket, bottles, a pacifier, and small toy.

Diaper bag essentials: Ah Goo Baby Plush Pad

Changing pad

Try: Ah Goo Baby Plush Pad ($35) in Vintage Blue. Most diaper bags come with a flimsy changing pad, but we love this alternative for the luxe memory foam surface. Use it as a changing pad or a cozy mat for tummy time on the go.
Diaper bag essential: Wipebox by UberMom

Reusable wipebox

Try: Wipebox by UberMom ($7) in Aqua Bow. No room to lug around a big container of wipes in your bag? Try this adorable eco-friendly alternative instead of sticking them in disposable plastic bags.
Diaper bag essential: Friendly pacifier

Pacifier + toy

Try: Friendly Pacifier ($15). This removable pacifier doubles as a cozy toy for your little one to touch and snuggle up with, saving you valuable space in the diaper bag.

Snack time

Diaper bag essentials: Divine Mama bars

Having snacks for toddlers is crucial for avoiding mid-day meltdowns and Happy Family makes perfect portions for the diaper bag, but baby isn’t the only one who gets the munchies.

“If you plan to breastfeed don’t forget to throw in a few snacks for yourself too!” said Tracy Fish, mother of two. “I was constantly hungry.”

Try: Divine Mama Bars (Starting at $2.50). These bars are made of all-natural lactogenic ingredients that can help encourage milk production and increase supply. The bars are easy to stash in your diaper bag so you always have a snack on hand.

Cleanup crew

Diaper bag essential: Dapple kit

Face it. Babies can be dirty with bodily fluids spouting out of both ends. Moms say having a bag to store dirty diapers and clothes in is key. Stash some cleanup wipes to have on hand for cleaning up messes or dirty pacifiers that fall on the floor.

While most moms think to pack an extra outfit for baby in case of an accident, Giana Choroszewski, SheKnows formatter, suggested one other crucial item…”A change of clothes for you! The first time we took [our son] out, my husband and I both got puked on,” she said. “ We had three extra onesies, but nothing for us!”

Try: Dapple On-The-Go Essentials Kit ($10). Store the package of travel size toy and surface wipes and individual pacifier wipes in your diaper bag for accidents and hang on to the other items for your next trip.

More on diaper bags

Pack the perfect diaper bag
What to look for when buying a diaper bag
Be prepared for anything with this emergency bag


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