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21 Diaper Bag Essentials for Newborns to Make Life Easy

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What essentials go in a newborn diaper bag?

It’s your first time out of the house with your new little bundle of joy; most likely it’s your newborn checkup with the pediatrician.

It’s no longer just putting on your shoes and coat, and out the door you go.

Wherever you may be going, make sure you’re always prepared with all the diaper bag essentials for newborns.

I remember those first trips out of the house. Yes, to the pediatrician and then the two-hour drive to visit family.

It used to be so easy getting ready: keys, phone, wallet, ok let’s go!

With a little one in tow, it takes at least 30 minutes to get him ready, another 30 minutes to double check I have everything he needs, and then run a brush through my hair to look somewhat presentable. (For our first wellness checkup, I actually forgot to brush my teeth – oops. Oh well, it wasn’t my wellness checkup.)

While it may be daunting now, I will say it gets easier. You’ll eventually be able to run through your checklist in your mind, and your teeth will get brushed.

Until then, write everything down. It really helps with mental fatigue. For now, let’s talk about those diaper bag essentials for newborns.

And grab a copy of the diaper bag checklist so you never forget anything!

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Do you really need a diaper bag?

Yes, you will need a diaper bag from the minute you bring that new baby home. (It’s a good idea to include it with your hospital bag, so you have everything for your newborn baby right from the start.)

Babies need so much stuff, so it’s great to have it all in one place and ready to go every time you leave the house.

Parenting tip: Always restock your diaper bag after returning home. It makes much less of a hassle for your next trip out.

There are so many diaper bag options out there that I’m sure you’ll find one you love. There are traditional diaper bags, stylish diaper bags that resemble purses, and backpack diaper bags (dads love these).

5 piece diaper bag tote set

Related: Best Non-Traditional Diaper Bags

Can you use a normal backpack as a diaper bag?

While we’re on the topic of the backpack diaper bag, I have to say it is my favorite diaper bag. You don’t have to worry about the bag slipping off your shoulder while carrying your baby.

It’s incredibly helpful if you’re already carrying a load of other things; think breast pump bag, work bag, purse, baby or car seat.

As I mentioned above, dads also love backpack diaper bags because you can opt for one that doesn’t look much like a diaper bag, and it’s easy to carry.

So can you use a normal backpack as a diaper bag? Sure, if you like.

They are super roomy, which is good as baby grows, or if you end up needing your bag for a newborn and a toddler. (You definitely want a big diaper bag if you’re packing for two.)

However, a lot of the diaper bags, and especially the diaper bag backpacks have a cooler area to keep bottles cold.

You can always opt for a insulated bottle bag to keep in your backpack, but now that is cutting down on the roominess, which was a big selling point of the normal backpack.

If you get this backpack diaper bag, it has lots of pockets. And it even has labels for all of those pockets, so you know right where everything is. A huge plus when you’re operating on very little sleep.

backpack diaper bag with changing pad

Do you carry a purse and a diaper bag?

As I mentioned above about carrying a load of items, I did mention carrying a purse. So like anything in parenting, it really depends on your situation.

If you decide to go with a diaper bag that resembles a purse, you probably wouldn’t need to carry an additional purse, if you have enough room. Even using a diaper bag backpack, I sometimes don’t carry a purse, as I can fit everything right in there.

Parenting tip: If I do carry a purse, I always use a crossbody bag. I don’t have to worry about it slipping, accidentally leaving it somewhere, or someone grabbing it from my shoulder or taking something from it.

grey crossbody purse

I personally would choose to carry a purse and a diaper bag if I’m going to be leaving the diaper bag somewhere, like daycare or a babysitter. Or if someone else might be carrying the diaper bag, like at a park or the zoo.

I want to be able to carry my cell phone and wallet separately at times like those.

I’m also so used to carrying a purse that it’s not something I’m likely to forget.

In the beginning when you’re just getting used to needing a diaper bag, you might not even think about it, and leave it at your restaurant table or in a cab. Diapers can be replaced; your phone, license, insurance card or credit cards, not as easy.

baby girl sleeping with stuffed animal
Photo by Ivone De Melo

What are the top 5 items parents keep in a diaper bag?

A well-stocked diaper bag will keep you prepared for any possible scenario. Here are the best diaper bag essentials for newborns and even some small items to pack for mom. Let’s get started!

1. Diapers and Wipes

You knew this one! It’s like getting a free answer on a test.

But you might be so preoccupied thinking of all the other things you need to pack that you forget the one thing you need the most, so pack the extra diapers first. Make sure you have enough diapers for the time you’ll be away, and always make sure that you have the right size.

I mentioned before about repacking your diaper bag just after you get back, so just double check those sizes before your next trip out. You can always make a larger diaper work, but not so much with getting a smaller diaper to fit or hold everything in.

And don’t forget the baby wipes. Some diaper bags come with a wipes container, or you can buy a separate container, so make sure they are always full. Or just throw a new pack of wipes in after every trip.

baby on portable changing pad

2. Changing Pad

You can’t always guarantee a clean place to change your baby.

You may need to use the trunk of your car or the floor of a restaurant. If there is a changing table in a restroom, they’re not always the cleanest places either. Or maybe you’re using a friend’s bed, and you don’t want to get anything on it.

In any situation, it’s always good to carry a fully-stocked changing pad, preferably one that wipes down easily.

Some diaper bags even come with a matching changing pad, so you don’t have to worry about buying something extra.

If you do opt for an additional changing pad, I recommend getting one that allows for storage of diapers and a travel-size pack of wipes.

This keeps everything within reach and makes it easier to change your baby one-handed. It’s also great because you don’t have to carry the whole diaper bag to the restroom, just grab this changing pad and your little one and go.

set of Dr. Brown's anti-colic bottles

3. Bottles and accessories

Your baby needs to eat, quite often as a newborn. You’ll want to have enough milk or formula to cover the amount of time you’ll be out (2-3 bottles).

If you’re breastfeeding and you’ll be with your baby, you can lighten your diaper bag load here. But it can also be nice to have a backup bottle of breast milk in your bag, just in case.

I love these bottles since they are proven to reduce colic, but it’s really about what bottle your baby loves best.

And if your diaper bag doesn’t have a cooler area for bottles, be sure to pack an insulated bottle bag to keep your baby’s milk fresh.

If you’re formula feeding, you won’t want to carry the whole can with you. Get a formula dispenser, and make sure you have enough water for each feeding. This dispenser holds enough for three feedings.

4. Extra Clothes

You should always include some extra changes of clothes in your baby’s diaper bag. Include at least one entire extra outfit: an extra onesie, pants, socks, and jacket (if necessary).

When newborns aren’t pooping, they’re spitting up. So, if you’re not cleaning up a diaper blowout, they’ll inevitably end up with milk or formula everywhere. An extra change of clothes is an essential item for newborns.

pack of 8 travel hand sanitizers

5. Hand Sanitizer

Whether you need to breastfeed, mix formula, or just got done with a diaper change, it’s always important to wash your hands. However, if you’re out with no soap and water available, hand sanitizer is the next best thing. It’s also a great thing to have on hand before others hold your newborn.

diaper bag essentials for newborns: mom holding a baby

What are the additional diaper bag essentials for newborns?

set of newborn gender-neutral pacifiers

6. Pacifier (with clip and case)

If you’re using a pacifier, this is not something you want to forget to pack. I recommend packing a back up (or two) as well.

Get a pacifier clip to keep the pacifier off the floor. You can attach it to baby’s clothes or the car seat strap.

Parenting tip: Attach the pacifier clip to a toy and then attach it to a car seat strap or high chair strap, so the toys don’t end up on the floor either.

Some pacifiers actually come in a sterilizing case, so I just used the case to carry the pacifiers. If you don’t have one of those cases, you can use a bag or these containers; they’re the perfect size. And don’t clean a pacifier by putting it in your mouth. Use these wet wipes instead.

set of holiday bibs

7. Bibs and Burp Cloths

Newborns spit up a lot! If you don’t want to run through all the extra clothes you brought in the first feeding, don’t forget to pack a couple of bibs and some burp cloths.

While I have used traditional burp cloths, my absolute favorite thing are these cloth diapers. They open wide enough to cover your shoulder and most of your chest (because my baby always spit up just off the traditional burp cloths).

Since they’re diapers, they are super absorbent. I’ve used these throughout the teething process as well. They suck up so much drool, and it’s a comfort for my little one to chew on.

8. Hat and Coat

You’ll want to keep a hat and coat in your diaper bag, depending on the weather. A summer hat and light jacket for warmer weather. A winter coat and hat for colder weather.

Winter coats should not be worn while in the car seat, as it adds extra bulk under the harness and is less likely to protect your baby in a crash.

grey fuzzy blanket
set of muslin swaddle blankets

9. Blankets

Since baby is not wearing a coat while in his car seat, you’ll also want to pack a blanket in your diaper bag. Use a warm, cozy blanket to cover baby while getting into the car in the colder months.

Keep a nice, light muslin swaddle blanket in there for warmer weather. Muslin blankets work for a number of things besides a blanket: burp cloth, nursing cover, swaddle, tummy time. I always keep one in my diaper bag, in case something comes up.

grey and white striped nursing cover

10. Nursing Cover

If you are breastfeeding but you’re not comfortable openly feeding your baby in public places (although that is your right), make sure you have your nursing cover tucked in your diaper bag.

This nursing cover allows you to see your baby while nursing, a huge plus when you’re just starting out and need to know if he’s latched properly.

Related: Everything a Breastfeeding Mom Needs to Nurse Her Baby

grey and white chevron car seat cover
grey and white giraffe and elephant car seat cover

11. Car Seat Cover

Although it might not be something you need to keep in your diaper bag at all times, you should keep a car seat cover nearby for your outings, especially in the winter since we can’t use heavy coats.

It’s nice to have a lightweight cover in the summer for places like the doctor’s office or the grocery store, especially if you’re somewhere that people will try to get in your baby’s face.

Parenting tip: Just put the cover on the car seat and tell them the baby is sleeping.

If you’re starting to think wow, this is a lot to back in one bag, consider combining some items and get this cover that doubles as a nursing cover. It can also be used on a shopping cart or high chair.

tube of A & D diaper cream

12. Diaper Rash Cream

If my baby didn’t need diaper rash cream or we were taking a short trip (like to the doctor), I usually wouldn’t pack it.

If we would be out all day (like to the zoo), or if we were visiting relatives (some live two hours away), or if we were going away overnight, I always made sure to pack some cream.

There are many out there to try, but my favorites are A&D Ointment and Aquaphor.

A&D Ointment is truly amazing for clearing diaper rash, and it is my go-to product.

But Aquaphor works as a moisture barrier, so it’s great for preventing diaper rash, healing chapped skin from teething, and even works on mom’s chapped hands from so much handwashing.

set of diaper cream applicators

13. Diaper Cream Applicator

If you’re applying diaper cream and don’t want it all over your hands, I recommend getting a diaper cream applicator. This set comes with a mini applicator that is perfect for your diaper bag. You just need to keep it in a separate bag until you get home to clean it.

Parenting tip: If you use a diaper wipe, most of the cream will come off the applicator or even your hands. The applicator is nice though in cases where you don’t have access to soap and water to wash away any excess cream.

portable owl soother

14. Sound Machine

If you’re going to be away during nap time, you may want to have something to remind your little one of home. I recommend getting this portable sound machine and using it for all naps, so your baby is used to the same sound. I have been using mine since night one in the hospital.

I also recommend this music toy. I’ve used this to distract my kiddo during those middle of the night diaper changes, and now it works great for long car rides.

Related: Best Baby Sound Machines

colorful set of plastic keys

15. Toys

Toys for newborns aren’t as important as the other items on this list.

But if you want something to distract your baby while waiting at the doctor’s office or riding in the car, I recommend something small, like this set of baby keys. They are lightweight enough that you can hook them around baby’s wrist and when he moves, they’ll shake.

set of grey waterproof bags

16. Empty Bags

Kids have dirty diapers and messy clothes. Pacifiers and toys get dirty. Clothes get wet. It’s always great to throw some empty bags in your diaper bag.

These plastic bags are perfect for storing dirty clothes. Use these bags for pacifiers and your diaper cream applicator. Get these disposable bags for storing a dirty diaper until you can get rid of it.

And if you’re looking for a waterproof bag, get these wet/dry bags. They are great for storing soiled or wet clothes, for carrying dirty cloth diapers (if that’s your thing), or for hauling pump parts, if you’re breastfeeding. The best part is they’re reusable!

Related: Products Pumping Moms Can’t Live Without

Don’t forget the necessary supplies for mom!

17. Extra Shirt

Your baby isn’t the only one who might need a wardrobe change. You don’t want to be caught out with spit up or baby poop on your only shirt. Come prepared, and always have a backup.

protein bars
lactation bars

18. Snacks

Throw some snacks in that bag for you. If you’re breastfeeding, you want to make sure you keep eating so you can keep making milk. Try a protein snack to keep up your energy or a lactation bar to help with your milk supply.

blue and purple water bottle

19. Water Bottle

It’s always a good idea to stay hydrated, even more so if you’re breastfeeding. You need to remember to take care of yourself when you’re taking care of someone else. Get this water bottle so you can keep track of your water intake throughout the day.

box of Medela nursing pads

20. Nursing Pads

Always throw an extra set (or two) of nursing pads in your diaper bag. If you get off your breastfeeding schedule and you leak through your first set, you’ll definitely be glad for the back up pair.

Related: What to Pack in Your Breast Pump Bag

tube of nipple cream

21. Nipple Cream

Hopefully, you won’t need to use it during your outing, but it never hurts to put an extra tube of nipple cream in your diaper bag, especially when you’re just starting on your breastfeeding journey.


There you have it: all the diaper bag essentials for newborns to make life easy. Don’t forget to pack some essentials for yourself as well. Snacks and water are always good to have on hand to keep your energy up and continue making breast milk.

Want to make life even easier? Get the handy diaper bag checklist so you don’t have to remember what to pack each time.

Let us know if we missed anything that you find essential to your newborn’s diaper bag in the comments below.

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