How to Pack a Diaper Bag for a Baby vs Toddler

Megan Tansom | July 10, 2019

I was at my sister-in-law Alex’s house this past weekend helping her prepare for her baby girl. My NIECE is due in August and I can NOT WAIT!!! A little babe for me to snuggle and spoil but I can also give back at the end of the day. How great is that!? But for real, I will love this little nugget so much and can’t wait to see that cute face. I am excited to see my girls with a little cousin as well. All they say now is “baby cousin in Auntie’s belly” and I know they really have no concept of this little human best friend being in their lives forever in all the BEST ways!

My mother-in-law, Jodi, and I went over to Alex’s to just help her set up baby girl’s room a little bit and put away the couple mountains of clothing I made her take from my home and that she has received as gifts already of course. I was looking at her new diaper bag and thinking I should help pack it. Then I kind of mind-blanked at what I used to all pack in my girls’ bag. I literally put in like 10 diapers and then just stopped. A potty-trained toddler diaper bag is much different than a newborn – LOTS more snacks and a lot less of the necessities. Did I not have two tiny human newborns not that long ago? I feel like I just prepare so much for the present or next stage that I had to let all that info in my head go.

It got me thinking, what SHOULD she pack in here? I told her that she doesn’t need all that much AT the actual hospital since they will have diapers and such but for going out and about when little gal gets here is a different story. So here is my list of some of the things I remember putting in our bag. Keep in mind I am an over-the-top planner so basically had the diaper bag stuffed full and probably a bag or so additional every time I went somewhere (if we went anywhere). I mean if it was an overnight trip, the entire car was filled to the brim… didn’t matter if it was one night or several. I also had twins in November so that would change things with the colder weather (and TWO newborns of course too) but here are the essentials for a general newborn diaper bag:

  • DIAPERS – I remember packing up at least 10 per day per child to be safe but that was usually too many. There are times where you go to change babe and there is poop everywhere so you toss that diaper and then baby keeps pooping on the new diaper (always put a NEW diaper down FIRST before taking old off I have learned) and you panic and use an additional diaper to catch some of said poop… so basically a four diaper disaster in one change. Trust me, it happens. Basically, one side of the backpack was filled with a row of diapers.
  • Folded diaper changing pad – make sure not too bulky
  • Two changes of clothing for baby and maybe one extra shirt for mom (milk, leaks, or spit-up happens)
  • Then toss in a couple more onesies (sh*t happens too… a lot sometimes)
  • Wipes (nice if your bag has a designated side pocket for easy access)
  • Plastic poop bags – Basically those doggy poop bags… but marketed for children. See We got this little container and you can purchase refills. Can use for dirty diapers on the go that you don’t want to smell in someone else’s trash or also to bring home dirty clothes. I at one point had the reusable wet/dry bag but had to wash it out a lot.
  • Diaper cream/lotion
  • Nursing cover
  • Small blanket
  • Burp Cloths – at least 2
  • Pacifiers – if you use, at least 2
  • Baby nail scissors or clippers
  • Entertainment for babe – a couple of books, a rattle or other toy (Sophie!?)
  • Sanitizing wipes/spray
  • Snack for breastfeeding or just hungry momma (granola bar/nuts and berries or whatever you fancy). Water bottle for momma if fits but this was usually separate for me or clipped on the outside.
  • When I go out with the girls, I used this as my purse too so take my small clutch (or wallet) with my credit cards/ID/money and put it in a separate pocket in the diaper bag. This is also where I put my car keys, phone, and sunglasses if needed.
  • Disposable Place Mats for restaurants or other surfaces once babe gets older and is eating food off tables (can’t quite use plates yet). I bought these that worked well.
  • A bib when needed
  • Another thing that is not quite for the newborn stage but soon – a thing of puffs or other 6 mo+ approved snack
  • Sunhat and sunscreen (after 6 months and obviously in the summer) – Replace this with a warm hat/gloves in the winter

When I was breastfeeding, I obviously had to bring my pumping bag and additional things including a very large nursing pillow as well as bottles and formula since we supplemented as well. If you have a large diaper bag, you can maybe fit a couple of bottles and formula in but I always brought a separate little cooler with some bottles. So again, I would have more than one bag always and rarely left the house the first few months. Seriously. I am ALL about getting out and about, but it was tough.

I had this diaper bag when the girls were little. It is not the most attractive bag, but it was on the bigger side so fit our needs. We still have it but we need a lot less stuff now so usually take a smaller bag. This one can fit SO MANY things. I loved that it was a backpack which was essential for twins as I had to carry two car seats. Make sure your diaper bag (any style) has a stroller attachment. If it doesn’t, you can get those large carabiner hooks that can attach to a stroller handle and hang your bag or toss it in the basket under most strollers if that works for you. It was nice to have it hanging though for easy access.

We use the stroller a lot less now and my 2.5-year-olds are so much more mobile, so I just pack up this cute smaller backpack purse that I got from Target. This is what I take for DAILY trips out of the house doing nothing particularly special:

  • For each child, I have at least one full change of clothes. For me now in the summer that means a dress for Zoey (she won’t wear anything else) and shorts/shirt for Everly. These are at the bottom of the backpack since take up most space
  • On top, I put a couple more pairs of pants in case we want them or have an accident in our others
  • 4-6 pairs of undies (sometimes they just dribble a bit or fully have an accident every once in a while). These undies are tiny so don’t take up too much room.
  • A pair of socks for each kid (my children even in the summer insist on wearing socks, don’t ask)
  • SNACKS – my go-to daily is to have a pack of raisins, a small bag of Annie’s crackers, and a pouch for each child since they seem to always be hungry or for public meltdown situations
  • A snack for mom or dad (just a granola bar or something small)
  • Plastic bags for soiled/dirty clothes
  • One small towel (wash-cloth size so smaller) for going in public bathrooms. My girls are NOT fond of the hand dryers.
  • I used to also carry some sticky notes to cover the potty sensors in public restrooms but it doesn’t scare them anymore so stopped
  • Sunscreen in the summer as well as two small baseball hats but those usually are just tossed in the car (replace with hat/gloves in the winter again)
  • Hand sanitizer spray (I just bought a small honest company bottle but there are many kinds)
  • My larger diaper bag has a side wipes pocket you can put a full-sized container of wipes but when I go out for shorter trips, I have this reusable/refillable wipe pouch that is smaller and works well.
  • When I go out with the twins, I again use this as my purse too so take my small clutch (or wallet) with my credit cards/ID/money and put it in the front pocket of the bag. This is also where I put my car keys, phone, and sunglasses.
  • Toss in a couple of extra pony-tails /clips if you have gals (or little dudes with long locks) and you are good to go.

Depending on where we go, we may need something to entertain the girls such as some crayons/notebooks/coloring books, etc. but then I would usually pack our larger diaper bag with those items or take an additional tote bag. If we are going to have them nap elsewhere, we would need pull-ups and many many more things.

Obviously, this may be common sense for a lot of parents and each kiddo is different, but I thought I would even make this for myself (and hubby) so I don’t have to think about it! Here is this list in a cute checklist format:

If you would like a printable PDF of the baby vs toddler diaper bag checklist, email and request a copy at

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