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19 Diaper Bag Essentials for Toddlers with High Energy

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What essentials go in a toddler diaper bag?

You’ve been hauling around that diaper bag for twelve months, and you’re wondering if it’s finally time to be free of it.

Or maybe you’re just wondering what are the diaper bag essentials for toddlers?

Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Once my son hit the toddler stage, I always felt like I was forgetting something every time we would leave the house.

Moving away from bottles really makes the diaper bag lighter, but I had to retrain my mind to remember what needs packed.

Not to worry though, once you get it down, you catch on pretty quick. Just about the time for things to change again.

But that’s okay, we have an ultimate diaper bag checklist to keep you from forgetting any of the diaper bag essentials for toddlers. Now, let’s get to it!

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woman packing her diaper bag
Photo by Sarah Chai

Do you really need a diaper bag?

The older your child gets, the less stuff you will need to carry with you.

At the toddler stage, kids still need as much stuff as babies, it’s just that what they need changes. It’s still a good idea to carry that diaper bag so you have everything your little one needs all in one place.

And remember to restock it each time you return, so it’s ready to go for the next trip.

What can I use instead of a diaper bag?

If you’d still like to get away from using a traditional diaper bag at this stage, you do have many other options.

They range from backpack diaper bags to clutches to portable changing pads to totes to duffle bags. Find something that fits your personal style and your level of activity.

Related: Best Diaper Bags for Busy Parents

What age do you stop using diaper bags?

Technically, you no longer need a diaper bag once your child is out of diapers (between 2 and 3, depending on the child).

However, kids still have accidents even after they are potty-trained. Young kids still like to take toys in the car, when visiting relatives, or taking a trip to the doctor. And who doesn’t love snacks?

So, while you might not have to actually carry a diaper bag, it’s not a bad idea to take a small backpack diaper bag or tote with some basic diaper bag essentials even after your child has outgrown the traditional diaper bag.

toddler boy running through the yard
Photo by Brett Sayles

What should I pack in my toddler diaper bag?

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

1. Diapers and Wipes (or Underwear)

When carrying a diaper bag, the absolute most important thing to remember is extra diapers (and baby wipes). Be sure to restock your diaper and wipe supply after every outing. And don’t forget to double check the sizes before heading out again, if it’s been awhile.

It’s good to note here that if your toddler is potty training (or even completely trained), be sure to pack extra underwear. As I said accidents happen, and little people get just as embarrassed as the rest of us.

Let your little one know it’s not a big deal and have a change of underwear (and clothes) ready to go.

baby on portable changing pad

2. Changing Pad

If you’re still changing diapers, you’ll want to carry that changing pad along.

The changing table at your local restaurant or grocery store has not become any cleaner since you had that newborn out and about. Now, it’s probably even more significant to carry a changing pad as your toddler puts his hands everywhere and then into his mouth.

Use a portable changing pad, so you have everything on hand, without having to carry the diaper bag into the bathroom.

set of sippy cups: one blue, one green

3. Sippy Cup

Keep a spill-proof sippy cup (or two) in your diaper bag to keep your little one hydrated. If you’re going to be out at mealtime, but not at a restaurant, keep milk in one cup and water in the other. Water is always good to have on hand for your active toddler.

set of snack catchers: one blue, one green

4. Snacks

You can carry something small for every outing, such as puffs, goldfish or cheerios.

Make sure you use a snack catcher or other container to keep them from spilling all over the diaper bag or the car. The snack catchers are perfect for little hands to access the food.

5. Change of Clothes

Although you’ve moved on from the spit up stage, and diaper blowouts are becoming rarer (hopefully), you’ll still want to carry a change of clothes.

If you’re potty training, accidents happen. And toddlers just learning how to use a spoon are likely to end up with food somewhere besides their mouth.

No matter the situation, remind your toddler that accidents happen, and changing clothes is no big deal.

You might even want to carry more than one extra set of clothes, depending on where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone.

You might even want to pack an extra shirt for yourself, just to have a backup.

8 count pack of hand sanitizer

6. Hand Sanitizer

You need some way to clean your hands after diaper changes or before eating. If you’re out with no access to soap and water, hand sanitizer is your best alternative.

It’s also a good way to teach your toddler to clean his hands when done playing, especially after a trip to the park or a petting zoo.

set of three gender neutral pacifiers

7. Pacifier (with clip and case)

If your toddler is still using a pacifier, you definitely don’t want to be caught without it. Make sure you pack a backup and get a pacifier clip to lessen the chance of it ending up on the floor.

And don’t forget a case to keep it clean. If you’re pacifier didn’t come with a case, you can use a bag or these containers (they’re the perfect size). Please don’t clean a pacifier by putting it in your mouth. Use these wet wipes instead.

diaper bag essentials for toddlers: little boy sitting with white shirt and jeans
long-sleeve bib with fruits and ice cream

8. Bib and Burp Cloth

Bibs are still a necessity at this age. Maybe even more so, now that your toddler is eating more on his own.

If you’re going out and especially if your kiddo is wearing long sleeves, this bib is a must.

I can’t tell you how many times my little guy has been eating and all of a sudden decides to chew on his shirt sleeve, which is fine at home. Not so much if you’re out for the day.

This bib will save you from going through all those extra clothes you packed.

A burp cloth might not be as high a priority now that you no longer need to burp your little one. But my favorite burp cloths are actually cloth diapers, so I always keep one or two on hand for spills, as a teething soother, or as a comfort item.

9. Hat and Coat

Depending on the weather, make sure you have an appropriate hat and coat packed in your diaper bag. Since heavy coats shouldn’t be worn under the car seat straps, be sure to pack it for later. Or put it over your little one once he is in his car seat.

giraffe security blanket

10. Blanket or Lovey

When you had a newborn, the blanket you were carrying was mostly used to keep the baby warm. Now that you have a toddler, he probably has a favorite blanket or lovey that he never leaves behind. Be sure to pack it, especially for long trips or doctor appointments.

Parenting Tip: If your toddler has a favorite blanket, toy, pacifier (whatever the item), consider buying a second and swap them out from time to time. Maybe on wash days. It will come in handy if you should ever lose one.

tube of A & D diaper cream

11. Diaper Cream and Applicator

The only time I ever carried diaper cream was if my toddler had diaper rash or we were gone for more than an hour or two.

If you’re taking a day trip somewhere that your toddler will be sitting for long periods of time (car seat, stroller), it’s a good idea to carry some, just in case. Better to be prepared.

And while you may not mind using your finger to apply diaper cream at home, an applicator is a lot nicer when you’re out and may not have access to soap and water. Pack it in a bag, so you don’t get cream on anything else.

portable owl soother

12. Portable Sound Machine

If you’re going to be away overnight or even during naptime, it’s good to be able to mimic the sounds of home. I’ve used this portable sound machine ever since my little one was born.

Related: Best Sound Machines for Toddlers

Another great option for toddlers is this music toy. It’s a nice distraction for long car rides.

13. Toys and Books

Toys and books seem to multiple as your child ages. But it’s always good to pack a favorite toy to use as a distraction for a long car ride or an unpleasant trip to the doctor. 

Parenting Tip: Keep a special set of toys or small books in the car that your toddler rarely sees. A few newer toys will keep your child’s attention longer.

set of grey waterproof bags

14. Empty Bags

Don’t forget those empty bags for soiled clothes, dirty diapers, or keeping clean items separated.

Use these plastic bags for storing dirty clothes. Use smaller 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 reusable bag, use these wet/dry bags. They work great for soiled clothes or wet clothes at the pool or beach.

set of kid's sunscreen

15. Sunscreen

You want to keep your little one’s skin healthy. So for any trips outdoors, make sure you have sunscreen on hand. Pack a sunscreen stick for less mess and easier application.

Remember, sunscreen is not to be used on babies under 6 months. And always talk to your pediatrician, if you have questions.

set of four toddler bowls with lids

16. Bowl with Lid

If I’m going to be out with my toddler during mealtime, I always take one of these pouches and a bowl with a lid. If I don’t open the food before I leave, it doesn’t need to be kept cold. The pouch doesn’t need to be heated, like meat or other baby food. Once your toddler can eat the whole thing, they can just eat it right from the pouch.

I always take a bowl to feed my little one, in case he doesn’t eat the whole pouch in one sitting. And I make sure the bowl has a lid, so if there’s anything left in the bowl it doesn’t get on everything else in the diaper bag, and you won’t need to store it in a separate bag.

toddler spoon with case

17. Spoon with Case

If I’m carrying food and bowls, then I’m also packing up my travel feeding spoon. It’s one less thing I have to worry about putting in a bag when I’m done using it.

set of disposable placemats

18. Disposable Placemats

These disposable placemats are perfect when you’re taking your toddler to a restaurant. They stick right to the table, so you don’t have to worry about whether the table is clean enough for your kiddo.

And they don’t slip, so you don’t end with the placemat (and food) all over your kiddo or the floor. Just unstick and toss them when you’re done.

set of disposable toilet seat covers

19. Disposable Toilet Seat Covers

Once your toddler is potty-trained, you’ll want to carry some disposable toiler seat covers to keep those little fingers from touchy some pretty grimy places. These toilet seat covers are big enough for your little one to hold onto the toilet and not have his legs touch.

Don’t forget the necessary supplies for mom!

  • Extra shirt
  • Snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Lip balm
  • Cell phone
  • Credit cards and license
  • Nursing cover and supplies (if needed)


There you have it: all the diaper bag essentials for toddlers. Be sure to pack some essentials for yourself as well. Snacks and water are always good to have on hand to keep your energy up, so you can chase after your active little one. Don’t forget the handy diaper bag checklist so you’re always prepared for your next outing.

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



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