Diaper Bag Essentials

As a seasoned parent who’s seen more than my share of diaper blowouts, a well-equipped diaper bag needs to carry a wide arsenal of not-so-obvious tools beyond diapers and wipes. Here are our Top 7 Essentials for Your Diaper Bag:

These pouches are perfect for storing personal or baby items—give each color a specific purpose (blue for binkies, etc).  Pro tip: keep ALL liquids in your diaper bag inside bags like this, even if you think the lid is on tight! Consider getting a mix of sizes— these bags are roughly 9″x13″, perfect to hold soiled clothes or cloth diapers. You might also buy some smaller pencil case-size bags like these to hold items like pacifiers or keys.

It’s always the item you’re most likely to forget: a sun hat for baby or toddler. Throw this into a diaper bag for those days at the park, strolls around a lake and other outings where the sun may be a bit too strong for the little one. We liked this one by i play, which also has a variety of different styles and a zillion colors.

Not everything in the diaper bag is for baby—a portable USB Power Bank like the Jackery Bolt will provide an emergency jolt of juice for your dying cell phone. Our favorite feature: built-in cords for both Apple and Android phones. Charge it up, toss in your diaper bag and forget it . . . until the low battery warning flashes.

Yes, a diaper bag can never have enough extra socks—and Carter’s is one of our favorites. Sure, they are a bit pricier than other basic socks, but these socks are super soft and actually designed to stay ON your baby or toddler’s feet with a dab of spandex! No kidding. These are a reader favorite.

After testing 13 over-the-counter diaper rash remedies on actual baby butts and consulting with pediatricians who fight the diaper rash battle every day, we picked Balmex Diaper Rash Cream as the Best Diaper Rash Cream.  

A travel-size tube of Balmex is a must for your diaper bag—as any experienced parent knows, a baby with diaper rash is going to make everyone unhappy.

Parents tell us they like the creamy texture; it’s not as sticky as many other zinc oxide diaper rash cream—and we would agree with this after road-testing several diaper rash creams ourselves. The scent isn’t bad either.

If you are breastfeeding, hydration is important! And if you’re formula feeding, this bottle can keep warm water ready to mix with formula (pro tip: don’t mix until you are ready to feed baby).

Sure, you can buy a cheap water bottle for less than this top pick—but do you want your water to stay cold for a full day outing with baby? Yes, you do. And if you prefer caffeine-infused hydration, the Hydro Flask will keep it hot for half a day. And, yes, we independently tested a Hydro Flask to confirm those claims!

Hint: pick a bright color to find it in a full diaper bag.

Comedian Dennis Miller once said “You can have kids . . . or nice things.” Stains are a fact of life when it comes to being a parent. As an experienced mom, you’ll learn that stain remover pens like this one can handle the little messes without missing a beat. Yes, you should always pack a change of clothes—for both you (spare t-shirt) and baby (bodysuit). But not every mess is a Category 5 clean-up—stain remover pens are a must for any diaper bag.

Photo credit: The diaper bag featured at the top of this post is the 3LiveWell backpack diaper bag.