Skip Hop On-The-Go Wipes Dispenser ($9.99) Bumkins Waterproof Wet Bag ($9.95)
For as tiny as they are, babies require an astonishing amount of gear every time they leave home. Whether it’s a stroll to the park, a visit to the doctor, or a day trip to the beach, the last few minutes before any departure can feel like a frantic scramble to scrounge up all of your diaper bag essentials, shove them into your bag, and pray you haven’t forgotten anything.
For easier exits and fewer on-the-go emergencies, it’s a good idea to wrangle up all of the baby gear you may need and store it together in or near your diaper bag. Here are the main items you and your baby won’t want to leave home without:
First things first: You need a diaper bag to hold all of your gear. Since you’ll be bringing it just about everywhere you go, find a bag you like enough to use when you’re on your own, too.
As I alluded to in this roundup of gifts for pregnant women, I’m a big Birdling Backpacker fan. Now priced at $68 (down $10 from December), it’s not the cheapest diaper bag out there, but this is one item you don’t want to skimp on. Its canvas exterior, poly interior lining, exterior and interior pockets, and adjustable straps that can be used as a tote or a backpack combine to make the Backpacker, from my perspective, a pretty perfect diaper bag.
Another great diaper bag option, which looks like a classic backpack, is the RUVALINO Diaper Bag Backpack, on sale for $40.99. With 4.8 stars and nearly 23,000 ratings on Amazon, it’s a favorite of parents who love to stay organized and equipped. Among its two zipper compartments and 16 (16!) pockets are a padded laptop pocket, two insulated bottle holders, and a mesh diaper organizer. It also comes with a changing pad, meaning one less thing to remember.
While any surface can become a changing pad in an emergency, bringing your own makes things easier and cleaner. You’ll want one that folds up neatly and wipes down quickly.
The portable changing pad by Babebay is lightweight, waterproof, sleek, and simple. It folds up into a compact rectangle while not in use, and quickly unfurls into a T-shaped, on-the-go changing surface. It has a built-in head pillow and foam padding and is made of waterproof fabric that makes wiping it down a breeze. On sale for $11.99, and with 4.8 stars and 2,800 ratings on Amazon, the Babebay changing pad is a steal.
Skip Hop Pronto Changing Pad
For a slightly frillier but similarly popular option (4.8 stars and 3,000-plus ratings on Amazon), look no further than Skip Hop’s Pronto Changing Pad for less than $30. You can carry it like a clutch or tuck it into your diaper bag, and then unfold it when you need a changing pad. Its pocket situation is ideal, with a large mesh pocket that holds up to four diapers plus creams and other small items, and a zippered pocket on the front that’s ideal for keys, a phone, and other knickknacks.
A portable wipes dispenser may seem frivolous but comes in handy when you’re trying to maximize the space in your diaper bag. A good one is compact, moisture-locking, and easy to manipulate.
OXO Tot On-The-Go Wipes Dispenser
For under $10, you can’t do much better than the OXO Tot travel wipes dispenser. It features a push-button that allows for one-handed use, a strap that can be attached to a stroller or hung from a diaper bag, and a profile that’s barely over an inch thick. Its 4.6 stars and 12,446 ratings on Amazon are a testament to the affordable and user-friendly nature of the OXO wipes dispenser.
Skip Hop On-The-Go Wipes Dispenser
Skip Hop makes a solid alternative to the OXO wipes dispenser, featuring a handy strap, silicone seal that traps in moisture, and space for up to 25 wipes. It differs from the OXO option in its thickness — 1.5 inches as opposed to 1.2 — as well as its opening, which is circular rather than rectangular and has a snap lid rather than a button. Priced at $9.99, it’s right on par with the non-sale OXO price.
Every diaper bag needs a burp cloth or two. Look for ones that are absorbent, soft, sizable, and durable enough to endure many rounds of washing.
As the mom of a newborn, you’ll rarely catch me without a Green Sprouts burp cloth (which I included in this collection) on my shoulder. Shaped like a 22-inch-long hourglass and made of 100% organic cotton muslin, they’re absorbent, soft, hypoallergenic, and free of harsh chemicals and dyes. A three-pack runs between $21.99 and $26.99.
A favorite on Amazon, the Comfy Cubs burp cloths have accumulated 4.8 stars and more than 26,000 ratings. These 20x10-inch rectangular cloths with rounded corners are made of pure cotton muslin that’s breathable, soft, and absorbent. Right now, you can get a pack of 10 white burp cloths for $17.95.
Breastfeeding in public can be uncomfortable and inconvenient. Nursing covers can help. The best choices are breathable, stretchy, and large enough to provide full coverage.
The nursing cover by Yoofoss is about as versatile as it gets, functioning as a breastfeeding cover, car seat cover, stroller cover, shopping cart cover, high chair cover, light blanket, and an infinity scarf. Amazon’s #1 best seller in car seat canopies and covers is soft, stretchy, and available in all sorts of styles for $9.99.
Priced comparably to the Yoofoss option, the $10.95 UHINOOS nursing cover could almost pass as an apron, with its adjustable neck strap and a large swath of cotton fabric that drapes over a woman’s upper body. The material is lightweight and breathable and offers a good deal of coverage for public nursing sessions.
No list of diaper bag essentials is complete without spare diapers. High-quality ones are soft, properly fitting, and sufficiently absorbent.
As the #1 pediatrician-recommended brand in the U.S., not to mention an Amazon best-seller with 4.8 stars and 54,262 ratings, Pampers diapers are hard to rival. They’re trusted by countless households because they’re absorbent, breathable, and gentle. They’re also hypoallergenic and paraben- and latex-free. A pack of 198, which should last about a month, costs between $40 to $55 dollars, depending on the size.
Many of my friends who are parents rave about the Kirkland diapers found in Costco stores and online. I took their recommendations and now I can attest! Not only are these diapers soft, free of latex, fragrance, and lotion, and made with at least 20% plant-based materials, they’re also very affordable. A pack of 129 costs $34.99 online, which comes out to a competitive $0.18 per diaper.
In addition to all of the diaper bag essentials above, there are a number of odds and ends that are easy to forget about but important to have on hand.
The waterproof wet bag from Bumkins has saved me countless times in my first ten weeks with a baby. It’s great for storing dirty diapers when there’s not a trashcan nearby, and can also be used to protect other diaper bag essentials from soiled clothes, wet swimsuits, and such. For $9.95, this is an on-the-go must.
These days, no diaper bag, purse, or backpack is complete without a travel-sized hand sanitizer. You can’t go wrong with Purell, which kills 99.99% of the most common germs without drying out or irritating your skin. The one-ounce flip-cap bottles, encased in flexible jelly wrap carriers, are ideal for attaching to bags, keychains, and strollers. An eight-pack costs $18.83.
Hang around an infant long enough, and you’ll know that no outfit is safe for long. It’s a good idea to stash a spare onesie in your diaper bag in case of big blowouts, spit-ups, or both. The cotton ones by Gerber are super popular — with 4.8 stars and almost 55,000 ratings on Amazon — because they get the job done at a good price. Packs of eight start at $9 and come in a wide array of colors and patterns.
Snacks for Mom and Dad
Last but not least, don’t let your needs as a parent get lost in the shuffle! Speaking from experience, I’m a much better caregiver when I’m well-fed and hydrated. In addition to a reusable water bottle like this Hydro Flask, try to keep a few convenient and nutrient-dense snacks in your diaper bag, such as Justin’s peanut butter squeeze packs, Made Good granola minis, and Planters trail mix packets.