Mom Life

Diaper Bag Essentials: How to Pack the Perfect Diaper Bag Backpack

Going out with little ones is stressful! Knowing that you’re well-prepared with diaper bag essentials will help ease the anxiety a bit. In this post, I walk you through my diaper bag checklist and share my tricks for how I stay organized when I’m on the go with a toddler and baby.

Diaper Bag Essentials

What is the best diaper bag backpack?

Caraa baby bag
The best diaper bag backpack out there, the Caraa Diaper Baby Bag
diaper bag essentials

Check out my very detailed review of my favorite diaper bag backpack, the Caraa Diaper Baby Bag, in this post here.

This diaper bag backpack is SUPER lightweight, which makes it possible for me to carry everything I need without it being too heavy. Sounds crazy, but sometimes I even forget it’s on my back!

Use this link for 15% off at Caraa, which is definitely helpful as the bag is a little on the pricey end. It’s totally still worth it. Trust me, it’s better to spend the money up-front on one really good bag as opposed to several ones that will break right away or will not meet your needs. I unfortunately had to spend hundreds (easily over $500) before figuring this out.

What pouches and accessories do I use?

I used to be a huge Ju Ju Be fanatic and fell in love with this cute Tokidoki print called Kaiju City. It’s hard to find these days, but Ju Ju Be still makes these pouches in a ton of other cute prints. They are even coming out with a Disney collaboration line!

The large pouch I use for my diapering kit is called the Ju Ju Be Be Quick, the mesh pouch set is called the Be Organized, and the small pouch I use for my mommy needs is the small piece from the Be Set. All other pieces are custom-made. Check out the Ju Ju Be Buy Sell Trade Facebook group if you’re interested in delving into the wild world of Ju Ju Be. 🙂

Diaper Bag Checklist: What’s in My Diaper Bag?

diaper bag essentials
My Diaper Bag Essentials
  • Diaper clutch
    • This is a MUST for having a really organized diaper bag. In this handy kit I keep all my diapering needs—diapers, wipes, thin changing pad, hand sanitizer, diaper rash cream, and little baggies for tossing dirty diapers (great when you’re over at a friend’s house and you want to contain the stink). When it’s diaper change time and you’re at a restaurant, for example, you want to be able to just grab your diaper clutch when heading to the restroom instead of having to bring your whole diaper bag.
diapering essentials
Keep a separate diaper clutch with all your diapering needs
  • Feeding essentials
    • Food/snacks for your kids: Applesauce pouches are great for on the go. Try to choose snacks that all your kids can enjoy if possible as opposed to packing specific baby food pouches and separate toddler snacks. I like to also carry a snack tower for holding puffs or other little snacks that will keep my kids preoccupied.
    • Don’t forget to also pack snacks for yourself or, more importantly, your hangry partner.
    • Pre-made bottle(s) for baby if we’re going to be out for a long time
    • Water bottle for toddler
    • Burp cloth
    • Little pair of scissors/”food shears”: I got these great food scissors that I’ve used so many times for cutting up my toddler’s food into little pieces. This is so much more efficient than using a fork and knife. You can use any pair of scissors, but I like that this one includes a little safety cover.
    • Ziploc bags: These are great for bringing home leftovers.
Feeding essentials
  • Extra clothes
    • For each kid I have one “all-weather” outfit, hat, and a pair of socks.
    • I have extra underwear for my toddler.
    • I like to also carry a light sweater for my youngest. For a younger baby I would probably swap this out for a muslin swaddle blanket, which can also be used as a nursing cover.
  • Medical/first aid kit
    • My medical kit has Band-Aids, Neosporin (I like the spray for on-the-go), Hydrocortisone, and sunblock.
    • I LOVE these little bear medicine containers. I keep one in my med kit that holds one dose of Benadryl. Just having this in my backpack helps ease my fears a bit when we’re out and about, maybe trying new foods. We previously had to rush to the ER when my eldest had an allergic reaction. At the hospital all they did was give her Benadryl. Since then we never leave home without one of these little bear containers of Benadryl. I recommend these to everyone. These are also great for carrying around liquid Tylenol.
medicine container for kids
A diaper bag essential: Little single-dose containers of liquid medicine
  • Activity kit/toys
    • I like carrying this little activity kit that I can bring out if we’re having to wait somewhere, like a doctor’s office or at a restaurant. It is the perfect size for those Play Packs that have little coloring books and crayons. I like to also keep stickers in here.
  • Mom stuff
    • In a small pouch labeled “Mama” I keep some essentials like eyeliner (I’m usually fine wearing no makeup, but I do like wearing eyeliner at a minimum), hair ties, cough drops, medicine, and hand cream.
    • I also have my wallet, sunglasses, secondary wallet (with membership cards, coupons, a couple of blank checks, and a small notebook), and a pair of socks.
mom diaper bag needs
Don’t forget about all your own essentials!
  • Bag hook
    • I don’t like putting my bag on the floor when possible, like at restaurants, so I carry thing super neat Clipa bag hook. I put it on the edge of our table and am able to hang my diaper bag backpack from it.
Keep your diaper bag off the ground with a Clipa bag hook

Why use pouches to organize your diaper bag?

  1. Easy to find what you need. This is an obvious one, but having different pouches makes it so that you don’t have to rummage through your diaper bag to find what you need. Use clear or mesh pouches where possible. Labels or tags are even better. I had mine custom-made from a little shop called Rose Pedal Stitchery.
  2. Helps your partner find things easily. If you label your pouches, it makes it easy for you to tell a partner or grandparent or even an older child to help grab something out of your diaper bag.
  3. Great for easily switching diaper bags. If you’re the type of mom who likes to switch up your diaper bag every now and then, pouches are perfect for you. You can quickly grab your pouches from one bag and throw them into another one.
  4. Easy to leave certain things in the car. Sometimes if I’m just going into Target or the grocery store, I know there are certain things I likely won’t need, like my clothes pouch, so I will just leave that one pouch in the car instead of pulling out individual shirts and socks and making a mess in my passenger seat.
  5. Helps you easily identify when you need to re-stock an item. If you see that your clothes pouch is empty, for example, you know that it’s time to put in a new spare set of clothes—same goes for your food or snack pouch, which will need refilling often.
  6. Can help you make the most of your diaper bag space. My spare outfits for my kids fit into tiny pouches. These likely wouldn’t be so compact without the pouches.

The only downside there is to using pouches is the added weight to your diaper bag. You can minimize this by choosing pouches that are lightweight. Mesh pouches, for example, work great. They are lightweight and allow you to easily see what’s inside. I would stay away from leather pouches due to the weight. Similarly, pouches that are too structured will add unnecessary bulk to your bag.

Other Diaper Bag Tips

  • Designate a “mommy pocket.” Having a quick-access pocket that is just for your stuff will help you stay organized. This is where you keep your keys, wallet, sunglasses, hand sanitizer, and also where you can temporarily store things like receipts (keyword here is “temporarily” 🙂 ).
  • Make your diaper clutch the easiest thing to get to. In my Caraa Diaper Bag Backpack, the front pocket works great for holding my diaper clutch. This is the thing my husband and I reach for the most, so it makes sense to have it right in front for easy access.
diaper bag
Keep your diaper clutch front and center
  • Keep a pair of socks that fit both you and your partner. These have come in handy many times for us when we need socks to enter a play place with our kids.
  • If you have a potty-trained toddler, consider still carrying a backup Pull-up. This has saved us in a pinch when there is no (clean) bathroom for our toddler to use. We just put the Pull-up on her (usually in the car) and let her do her thing in there and then toss it. Lately we have also been bringing her little potty around, but the Pull-up is so much more compact.

You might be thinking that this is a lot of stuff to keep in your diaper bag. It’s definitely not the most minimalist diaper bag checklist, but I’ve always regretted not having something I needed way more than I ever regretted bringing too much. Having a well-packed bag with all your diaper bag essentials means you can be so much more confident that you can just grab your diaper bag and be ready for anything that comes your way!

If you’re a new mom or mom-to-be, be sure to check out my list of essential baby products in this post here.

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