I spent the last two weeks of my pregnancy obsessed with what people carry in their diaper bags. I was 13 days overdue, so everything that needed to get done had been accomplished weeks prior. My house was clean. My freezer was stocked with food. The nursery closet was organized. The hospital bag was packed. My work had all been wrapped up. I was basically just sitting around simmering. So, I needed to focus on something, and I focused on repeatedly Googling what people carried in their diaper bags.
It was such a crazy concept to me that there was this magic bag that every parent carried around that held all the tools to keeping a tiny human alive and happy. I wanted to make sure I had the most well-stocked diaper bag ever. I know, it was a weird obsession, but I was 400 months pregnant and it was 95 degrees outside, so my brain wasn’t really firing on all cylinders.
Now that I’ve been actually using a diaper bag for eight months, I can tell you, it isn’t even as close to as big of a deal as my über pregnant mind made it out to be. Honestly, it barely even leaves the car when we go anywhere. That being said, I still think it is interesting to hear what tools parents find so important that they have given them some of the valuable diaper bag real estate. So, I thought I’d share my diaper bag essentials, just in case there is another two-week overdue pregnant lady frantically Googling to pass the time.
First up, the bag. We use a SkipHop Duo diaper bag in Heather Gray. We picked this bag because it was something that we felt like we could use even once we were past the diaper-bag stage. It’ll make a nice laptop bag or work bag. And it does. In fact, I used it to haul my laptop and supplies back and forth to the coffee shop while I was writing my cookbook while I was pregnant. It was big enough to hold my laptop, papers, snacks and water.
That being said, it has been a bit small for our diaper-carrying needs. It’s a good size bag, and we can cram everything we need into it, but because our cloth diapers are so bulky, a half day’s worth can take up about half the bag’s capacity. I don’t think we need a bigger bag, but it is always a struggle wrangling it all in. I could pare down what we carry, but since we live so far away from everything, it can be hard knowing you’re going to be away from home for a half day or more and can’t just pop home to grab something.
I can see needing something bigger in the future when we want to pack snacks, water, and larger toys. We may have to upgrade (or just move on to a backpack we already have kicking around). I’ve also thought about just packing all of this stuff up into a storage tote in our car and leaving it in there—and just tossing a few odds and ends in my purse if I need them while we are away from the car. But for now, we’re sticking with the bag.
A few other issues I have with this bag—I don’t love that the top doesn’t have a closure. Well, it does, but it’s a magnet that is downright laughable when the whole bag is full. I wish it had a zipper or drawstring or snap or something more secure. I’ve heard their newest version does have a zip-top closure.
My last pet peeve with this bag—the diaper pad that comes with it doesn’t fit in the pocket well at all. It’s all nice and smooth when the bag is empty, but the second the bag has anything in it, it’s a pain to get the pad back in the pocket.
Okay, enough talk about the bag itself. Let’s talk about what’s inside. Of course, we start with the obvious—diapering supplies.
- BumGenius Freetimes—We usually keep four diapers in the bag at all times. They stack nicely in the bottom of the bag. It’s enough for about 8-10 hours. Learn more about why we chose these diapers in this post.
- Purple Prairie Botanicals Hand Sanitizer—I’m a little obsessed with Purple Prairie. All of their products work so well, and they are plant-based with nothing yucky in them. We keep a small bottle of this hand sanitizer in the diaper bag, and a larger one on the changing table.
- Spray Wipes Solution—For our solution, we use a squirt or two of Kissaluvs Diaper Lotion Potion, some witch hazel, a few drops of tea tree oil, and boiled water (we never really measure it). We use these two ounce glass spray bottles for the solution.
- GroVia Magic Stick—This is our favorite diaper rash stick. It goes on smooth and is cloth diaper friendly.
- Stain Remover Spray—We’ve been fortunate enough to avoid any diaper blowouts that require a stain spray, but I’m guessing we’ll need it soon for grass stains, strawberry stains, and other messy stuffs that come along with a kid.
- Small Planet Wise Wet Bag and Cloth Wipes — We go back and forth with packing dry wipes or packing pre-moistened wipes (it usually just depends on if we have any dry wipes kicking around). If we do pack wet wipes. We put them in this small wet bag to keep everything in the diaper bag dry. It’s a little big for that purpose, but Planet Wise recently came out with a smaller wipe pouch that would be perfect.
- Medium Planet Wise Wet Bag—This is what we keep in the diaper bag to hold soiled diapers. It’ll hold four Freetimes, plus some clothes and wipes no problem. And it does a nice job of keeping everything, um, contained.
Next up, the clothes. The weather where we live changes in an instant (literally, it can be 75 degrees and sunny in the morning, and snowing by that afternoon), so we go a little overboard with extras in the diaper bag in case we are caught out on one of those crazy weather days.
- Change of Clothes—This is usually just a onesie (long sleeve) plus a pair of pants and some socks. Can you believe we’ve only had to use this change of clothes on her once in our entire eight months of parenthood?
- Green Sprouts Bib—This originally was in the diaper bag because JuneBug had severe reflux, but now that she’s grown out of that, it’s in there to help when she’s drooling from teething or if we happen to give her some solid food while we’re out and about.
- Weather-y Layers—We throw in a light sweater, a warm hat, a sun hat, and an extra pair of mittens. In the summer, we just had the sweater and the sun hat.
- Zebi Baby Muslin Swaddle Blanket—These blankets are my jam. They are large (larger than the much loved Aden and Anais ones), organic, and super soft. They obviously work well as a blanket, but we also use them for all kinds of other things. It’s a great sun shade. Or a nursing cover (although I only use a nursing cover when Juniper is distracted, and I need to keep her from looking around).
- OsoCozy Cloth Diaper (Burp Cloth)—We’re almost past the burp cloth stage, but it’s still a good thing to have around. I may or may not have used a burp cloth as a napkin in the car before.
Next up, the most important items as far as Juniper is concerned—the toys! We gauge how many toys to bring based on how long we are going to be out. Since we live in the middle of nowhere, it’s a pretty long trek to do any errands, so we admittedly pack quite a few things to keep her entertained. And of course, these are always changing based on what is a favorite at the time, but we try to keep to these “types” of toys.
- Interactive Plushie—The toy of choice right now is this one from Alex Jr (we call him Alan, long story), but any toy with a million different “parts” works. This one has crinkly and crunchy and jingles and squeakers and things to chew on. It’s our toy of choice if we just pick one thing to go with us.
- Floor Toy—Something to play with if we happen to end up where she’s crawling around. She’s liking these wooden pull toys from Hape right now.
- Oball—The Oball has been a toy she has loved since she was only a few months old. It’s still a favorite in our house! It’s great now because she can roll it and chase after it now that she is mobile.
- Stroller Toy—I normally toss one stroller toy (with the clip) in the bag that is small enough to toss in my purse or attach to the car seat or carrier. This Skip Hop Owl has been a favorite for months and months. The chime/jingle sound is so friendly and happy—it pretty much automatically makes her smile.
- Book—We always have a book with us. She loves looking at them (and let’s be honest, chewing on them), and they are a nice way to pass time in a waiting room. Peek-a-who? is a favorite right now.
- Taggie Blanket—More often than not, we can hand her this blanket while she is tired in the car, and she’ll just stare at the tags until she falls asleep. It’s magic!
And then, everything else that we wedge into a pocket.
- Water—I don’t go anywhere without water. The side pocket on our diaper bag is just barely big enough to fit my giant 40 ounce Klean Kanteen.
- Paper and Pen—This has a list of important numbers (pediatrician, emergency contacts, etc.) on the first page.
- Purple Prairie Botanicals SunStick—All-natural mineral sunscreen that’s good for baby and parent. We keep a little one ounce sample size in the diaper bag for sunny emergencies.
- Motherlove Diaper Rash—We don’t use this stuff for diaper rash, but it is a really good all around moisturizer and balm for bumps and scratches and dry skin.
- Aleva Naturals Bamboo Toy Wipes—These are great for when a certain favorite toy ends up on the floor of a public restroom.
- First Aid Kit
- Keen Wallet—When I do take the diaper bag in somewhere, I usually leave my purse behind and just toss my wallet into the diaper bag. This wallet is one of my favorite things ever—it comes with a strap to make it into a small purse, and it is big enough to hold all my essentials (phone, keys, lip balm) without being massive.
- Snacks—Of course, I don’t go anywhere without snacks. During the early days of parenthood, we had an entire compartment of the diaper bag devoted to granola bars. And many days, those granola bars were the only sustenance we got.
And that’s it! Of course, the contents of this bag are ever-changing as the needs of Juniper change. A few months ago, I wouldn’t have walked out the door without at least three burp cloths. In a few more months, we’ll need to pack snacks for her. Tomorrow, she might decide she’s over Alan. It’s constantly evolving, but this is a good picture of where we are at with an eight month old.