Diaper Bag Essentials: 10 Must-Have Items to Pack

When it comes to babies, a must-have item is a diaper bag. It’s so important that if you accidentally leave home without it, you’ll have to turn around and go back and get it.

In short, it’s something you need every time you step foot outside of the house with your baby. 

So now that we know a diaper bag is a must-have item, let’s look at the diaper bag essentials that should be inside it.

What do you really need in a diaper bag? And what are the nice-to-have items? Here’s a list of the top 10 diaper bag essentials, plus a handful of diaper bag extras you can bring along if you have room.


Top 10 Diaper Bag Essentials

  1. Diapers. The general rule is to pack one diaper for every two hours you plan to be out, but we always recommend throwing in a couple extras just in case. Always double check for diapers before you head out!
  2. Portable changing pad. This must-have item not only makes diaper changes more comfortable for your baby, it makes it more hygienic. You can use it to cover up any surface where you change your baby’s diaper, whether it’s on a park bench or in a public restroom. 
  3. Disposable baby wipes. Just as essential as the first two items are baby wipes. They make changing diapers on-the-go a breeze. You can use these to clean your baby’s bottom as well as give the changing pad a wipe-down after each use. Nice 'N CLEAN® BABY Wipes are hypoallergenic and soothing on sensitive baby skin. Our plant-based fiber wipes are made with purified water and naturally derived ingredients. Once you figure out which brand works best for your child, buying baby wipes in bulk can help you save money and reduce the chances of running out.
  4. Washcloths. These are useful for burping, covering up while breastfeeding, or changing diapers. We recommend tossing in 4-5 burp clothes for each outing.
  5. Diaper rash ointment. Purchase a small travel-sized tube of diaper rash cream that can stay in the diaper bag.  
  6. Extra outfits. Have one or two changes of baby clothing (like our Nice 'N CLEAN® Onesie) packed because you never know when you’ll have a messy spit-up or a diaper blow-out. Don’t forget the socks!
  7. Plastic bags. These are handy for wrapping up dirty diapers and used baby wipes when you’re not near a trash can. They can also be used to hold wet or soiled clothes. 
  8. Hand wipes. Antibacterial hand wipes are perfect for cleaning your hands after a diaper change. These are especially handy if you can’t get to soap and water after a messy blowout. Nice 'N CLEAN® Sani-Hands® Antibacterial Hand Wipes remove 99.9% of the most common bacteria and are soft and gentle on your skin. 
  9. Water bottle. Always have a full water bottle with you in your diaper bag. It’s important to stay hydrated if you’re nursing. If you’re using formula, you’ll need the water to mix with the powder. 
  10. Light blanket. You can use a blanket for shade if it’s too sunny, for warmth if there’s an unexpected breeze, for extra privacy while nursing, or for protection from a cold draft at a restaurant. It’s a versatile item to always have on hand!

Diaper Bag Extras

  1. Food. If you’ll be out long enough for a feeding, be sure to pack bottles and infant formula, pumped breast milk, or baby food. If you have a toddler, be sure to pack snacks and a water bottle. You don’t want to deal with “hangry” infants or toddlers!
  2. Pacifier. If your baby uses a pacifier, you’ll want to make sure it’s packed in a clean bag (a plastic zip-lock bag works). You can also throw in extra bottle nipples with the pacifier.
  3. Toys. Baby toys, teethers, and rattles are nice to have in the diaper bag if you have room. 
  4. Sunscreen. If your child is older than six months of age, and you’ll be out in the sun, pack a bottle of sunscreen. If your child is younger than six months, ask your pediatrician for a sunscreen recommendation. In general, it’s best to keep your baby in the shade, covered with lightweight clothes and a hat [*]. 
  5. Hat. If you’ll be outside for any length of time, a hat is a good idea to protect your baby from the elements, including the sun and wind. If you’re going grocery shopping or running errands, you won’t need a hat.
  6. First aid supplies. At a minimum, a few Band-Aids are good to have in a side pocket or a small zipped bag. 
  7. Extra shirt. If there’s room, throw in an extra t-shirt (that you don’t mind getting wrinkled). It could come in handy if you’re covered in spit-up or breast milk leaks through your nursing bra.
  8. Nursing pads. Speaking of leaking breasts, having an extra set of nursing pads in your diaper bag can be helpful in keeping your shirt dry. These may be especially helpful the first few months of breastfeeding.
  9. Contact information. Make sure your name and cell phone number are inside your diaper bag in case you happen to forget your diaper bag somewhere. Whether you leave it at the park or a grocery store, you’ll want it to find its way back to you ASAP!
  10. Personal items. Last but not least, if your diaper bag is doubling as your purse, make sure to stash your personal items (wallet, phone, and keys) in a zippered pouch so it’s easy to find.

How to Choose a Diaper Bag

You’re now all set on what you need to pack in your diaper bag. Let’s go over some of the diaper bag options to consider when making your purchase (or adding it to your registry). Keep in mind a diaper bag is one of the most used items and you’ll likely have it for years so be sure to find one that works for you, your needs, and your lifestyle.

  • Space: How much space do you need? How is the inside organized? How many pockets and compartments do you want on the inside and the outside? Depending on your lifestyle and needs, you may need one for everyday errands and trips to the park, and another one for travel and vacations.
  • Growing potential: Do you plan to have more children? Do you anticipate needing one diaper bag for multiple kids? If so, select a diaper bag that can accommodate the needs of a newborn and a toddler.
  • Color: Do you want bright bold colors? Do you want gender neutral colors? With all the colors, designs, and patterns available, you and your partner should be able to find something that you’re both happy to carry around!
  • Design: Options include a tote (like our Nice 'N CLEAN® Diaper Bag), a purse-like bag, a messenger bag, or a backpack. Think about whether you’ll be using it in place of your everyday purse or in addition to your purse. Will the baby’s father be carrying it? Some diaper bags are convertible, meaning they can be worn as a messenger bag and a backpack. Some diaper bags are designed specifically for men. You can each get your own if you can’t decide on the same one.
  • Size: You’ll want a diaper bag large enough to fit all of your essential items, but not so large it’s cumbersome. Keep in mind that it’ll get bulky when filled so try to imagine how it’ll feel when every pocket is packed full of something. 
  • Weight: Another consideration is weight. You’ll want to get a diaper bag that you can carry while carrying your child. The material used will determine how heavy the bag is. You want fabric that is tough and durable, but not too heavy or bulky, especially when it’s filled. 
  • Fabric: Popular options for diaper bags include cotton canvas, nylon, leather (genuine and vegan), and glazed and coated fabrics (to create waterproof barriers). 
  • Straps: Do you prefer carrying it on one shoulder, strapped across your body, or on your back? Shoulder straps should feel comfortable on your shoulders, hang out of the way when not in use, and allow you to easily pick up the diaper bag when needed. Messenger straps allow you to wear the bag across your body so you can move it to the back or front relatively easily. The nice thing about messenger bags is they usually also have a regular shoulder-strap option. Backpacks are nice because the weight is evenly distributed across your back and there’s virtually no chance of it falling off or slipping off your shoulders the way the other two strap options might.
  • Cleaning process: Some fabrics are spot clean only while others are machine washable. Make sure you are aware of the cleaning process for the diaper bag you pick. At a minimum, you’ll want a fabric that is easy to wipe down and spot clean.

You’re now better prepared to select your diaper bag and fill it up with everything you need for your “baby and me” adventures! Nice 'N CLEAN® Diaper Bags are large spacious tote bags that are easy to throw over your shoulder and easy to look into to find whatever you need. They’re made with cotton canvas, a tough and durable fabric that’s easy to spot clean.

Make sure to keep them filled with all of the diaper essentials listed above, including a Nice 'N CLEAN® Onesie, Nice 'N CLEAN® BABY Wipes (available in Green Tea & Cucumber baby wipes and Sensitive baby wipes), and Nice 'N CLEAN® Sani-Hands® Antibacterial Hand Wipes. They make parenthood so much easier and more convenient.

diaper bag checklist must-have essentials


Nice 'N CLEAN Diaper Bag

Nice 'N CLEAN Diaper Bag


Our Nice 'N CLEAN® diaper bag is a durable and spacious boat tote that's built for all of your baby adventures. Whether you're enjoying a visit to the park or making a trip to the grocery store, this diaper bag...read more


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