Packing the Perfect Diaper Bag
Packing the perfect diaper bag is an art — a feat of organizational triumph crossed with future-telling powers and more than a little bit of OCD. And alas, it is not an art I have personally perfected.
Before Noah was born, I went online and found some insane “diaper bag checklist” thing and followed it to the letter. I had extra outfits! Sunscreen! 17 spare diapers! Pacifiers ready to go in separate sanitary plastic baggies! Vaseline! And then he was born and didn’t fit into any of the outfits or diapers I’d packed, didn’t like any of the pacifiers I’d chosen and you know when I figured this stuff out? When I was out. In the wild. On my own. When there was nothing I could do about any of it.
And slowly, since the checklist was sooooo long and involved, I quickly lost track of everything that was in the bag and could no longer do a fast, efficient inventory of the bag before leaving the house, meaning I was regularly digging around in a giant black hole of a bag for diapers and finding none, but oh, THANK GOD I still have this unopened travel-sized jar of Vaseline!
By the time Ezra was born, I’d learned to streamline to an almost insane degree. Packing the diaper bag for a newborn seemed like a ridiculously easy feat, especially after a few months of venturing out into the world with a potty-training toddler. (Hint: even more spare outfits than you ever thought possible, plus a TON of those cloth diaper burp rags, unless you want to explain why you had to rip open a package of paper towels in Aisle 5 to the cashier at Target.) Of course, this meant that my cocky self got stranded sans vital supplies ALL OVER AGAIN.
Restock Checklist, Don’t Leave the House Without It Portion:
- Diapers (for a newborn, it’s a good rule of thumb to bring one diaper for every hour or two that you’ll be out)
- Wipes (do yourself a favor and get one of the refillable plastic BOXES instead of those resealable travel packages — you can usually get the box open with one hand, while the stickers on the travel packs can be a pain to get open)
- Diaper disposal bags for when you need to take the dirty diaper with you (I loved the slim 50-count bags of Sassy Diaper Sacks when I used disposables; now I use Planet Wise wet/dry bags in small or medium, depending on the length of our outing)
- Cloth diaper burp rag (or two)
- Full spare outfit for baby (onesie, sleeper, socks, etc.)
- Extra shirt for you, if you’ve got a spit-upper/explosive-pooper
- Bottle, if you use one, with either water and a powdered formula dispenser or separate bottles of the ready-to-drink stuff (just because your baby is all but guaranteed to sleep through feedings if you pre-mix, thus you end up wasting it)
- Nursing Cover or very lightweight blanket, if you use one
- Cell phone (as soon as you choose a pediatrician, PROGRAM THE NUMBER IN) (also make sure you have pretty much every number you might possibly need: partner’s cell, work, main office number, neighbor’s number, tow service, locksmith, etc.)
Restock Checklist, Set-It-And-Forget-It Portion (i.e., the stuff you need but probably don’t need to double-check for every time you leave the house)
- Changing pad (one of the best baby gifts I got this time was one of those Changing Pods — mine is JJ Cole but Skip Hop makes one too — it includes a changing pad and fits a box of wipes, spare diapers, disposal bag, small tube of cream. Has saved my sanity from the endless rummaging in the bag while trying to keep a rolly baby put on an elevated table SO MANY TIMES)
- Diaper rash cream
- Baby sunscreen (I’ve graduated to keeping this in the car at all times)
- Hand sanitizer
- Spare change
Restock Checklist, Depends-On-Baby/Season/Type of Outing Portion
- Toys, rattles, teethers, books and/or lovey (we only bring toys for Noah these days — Ezra is generally more interested in silverware! car keys! straws! leaves! any kind of plastic packaging!)
- Baby food (purees and/or finger food snacks; always be sure to pack at least one food your baby is all but guaranteed to eat)
- Extra hat
- Snacks & water for you
- Gas drops, any other medications (Please use common sense and check with your pediatrician before giving to your infant any medications)
Photo by 
Published November 10, 2009. Last updated December 14, 2017.