What’s in our diaper bags: The Checklist

We’ve all been there, rummaging around in your diaper bag for something you NEED on a trip away from home and not finding it.  Kids can be gross messy and unpredictable so and having a wipe or a plastic bag (or a safety pin, or a sucker…) at hand can mean the difference between an almost unnoticeable hiccup in your day and a frenzied trip home with your child wearing no diaper, sitting on a newspaper, and praying you make it before the inevitable happens.  On the other hand, we also know how it feels to drag a big bag overflowing with stuff we don’t end up needing can feel.  It’s like a millstone around your neck, a millstone that explodes extra socks, receipts and goldfish crackers at inopportune moments.

After years of leaving the house with a herd of children in tow we can pack a mean diaper bag.  Here’s the lowdown.


The Bag

The bag itself should be utilitarian.  Something durable, lightweight and comfortable to carry or easy to stow in your stroller’s basket.  I like a bag that closes since I really dislike losing things.  Almost as much as the feeling of being arm deep in a bag fishing for a chap-stick I know I’ll never find, so I look for a bag with at least one pocket (preferably also with a zipper).  For long outings or special trips you may need to add a lunch bag or reusable shopping bag for extra gear.  It helps if you actually like the bag and it fits your sense of style since you’ll be taking it everywhere.  Function is, of course, more important than form – but I’ll admit that feeling cool with this obligatory accessory on your arm is a definite factor for me.

The Checklist

  • First aid kit – in a zip top bag or zippered pouch
    • Band-aids
    • a few 10cm by 10 cm sterile gauze pads
    • medical tape
    • polysporin
    • hand sanitizer
    • travel size kleenex
    • a couple of napkins or paper towels
    • chap-stick
    • a safety pin
    • a couple of suckers
    • a roll of biodegradable dog-doo bags for wet clothes, dirty diapers, vomit… you name it.
    • (a quick-ice ice pack – it can do wonders on a sting or nasty bump)
  •  Seasonal
    • Fall and Spring – an extra layer (a sweatshirt, vest, or light jacket)
    • Summer – sunscreen, a sun hat with a wide brim to protect face and ears, bathing suit, towel and swim diapers (if water activities are planned for the day)
    • Winter – an extra layer (as above), a back up hat and water resistant mittens
  • Infants and toddlers
    • Several diapers
    • Baby wipes in a small portable reusable container
    • Cream and ointment if required
    • Waterproof bag if using cloth diapers
    • 1 complete change of clothes
  • Potty Training Children
    • 1-3 complete changes of clothes (depending on the length of your time away from home)
    • Waterproof bag for soiled clothes and underwear
    • A diaper for naptime, car ride, or just in case
    • Baby wipes in a small portable reusable container
  • Potty Trained Children
    • 1 complete change of clothes including socks and underwear
    • A diaper for naptime (if required)
    • Baby wipes in a small portable reusable container
  • Sustenance
    • A water bottle for each child, I swear by these
    • A snack in a resealable container
    • Bottles and milk if needed
  • Entertainment – if you are going out to eat, using public transit, need to wait for an appointment etc.
    • small books or magazines (We love Chirp and Hello)
    • a small notebook and crayons (I like to stash away the mini crayon sets they give the kids at restaurants)
    • a couple of small toys (like small cars, animals or people)

The Basics

  • Routinely check to make sure supplies are replenished
  • Make sure that changes of clothes are complete (shirt, pants, socks and underwear), still fit your child and are seasonally appropriate
  • Check the weather report and be prepared
  • Clean out your bag often.  Crumbs and dirty Kleenex will multiply and stage a coup.
  • put each child’s extra clothes in a zip top bag or zippered pouch to keep them together
  • I love a diaper change kit like this one for keeping changing supplies together and grabbing as a stand alone diaper bag for a quick trip or errand
    Want to print a copy of our checklist find it here

*The diaper/day bag pictured here is homemade, subscribe/follow to find out when we post the tutorial.

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2 Responses

  1. Joanna says:

    Great List! Very complete. I also always include bibs in my bag, a wipe able one with a food-catcher pocket and a super-absorbent terry cloth one for the torrents of drool my boys seem to always have spilling from their mouths. It’s one item I feel lost without if it’s missing from our bag. But maybe that’s just me. 🙂

    • fruitfulpursuits says:

      Thanks for your comment Joanna, its true a bib is an essential for some little droolers….there’s always one in my bag too!

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