Tips to Not Over-Pack Your Diaper Bag - Baby Chick
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Tips to Not Over-Pack Your Diaper Bag

Learn what items you should pack for your newborn or toddler in your diaper bag.

Updated May 14, 2024

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When you’re a new mom, making your baby registry list can be daunting because you have no idea what you’re going to need versus what you think you’re going to need. Everybody will have different opinions and answers on what they need and don’t need. For instance, do you need that wipe warmer? Everyone I asked said no. We did because the wipe’s warmth kept my son from peeing in our faces during a diaper change.

When you register for everything you think you’ll need for home, you’re also registering for things you think you’ll need on the go, like a diaper bag and all the essentials. But what essentials do you need in a diaper bag for a baby, or what should you pack for a toddler? And what can stay home?

How to Pack a Diaper Bag for a Baby

We’ve curated a list of tips to not over-pack your diaper bag because nothing is worse than trying to lug a newborn or toddler in addition to 60 pounds of items. There’s no need to feel like a pack mule, mama.

Packing Up Formula

One important thing that determines what you pack in your baby’s diaper bag depends on how you feed your baby. If you are formula feeding, you should feed newborns and young babies whenever they seem hungry.1 most healthy formula-fed newborns feed about every two to three hours during the first few days. As they grow, they often eat about every three to four hours.1

On average, a newborn drinks about one-and-a-half to three ounces each feeding. At two months, that increases to four to five ounces; at four months, from four to six ounces; and at six months, up to six to eight ounces. Based on that information, you can calculate how much formula, water, and bottles you’ll need to get through your trip. Pack your formula and the necessary tools you’ll need to feed in a container that fits into your diaper bag.

PopYum bottles

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We highly recommend using the PopYum bottles. They will save space in your diaper bag and make preparing formula bottles easy while on the go.

Packing If You Breastfeed

If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need three changes of clothes, depending on how long you’ll be gone, a nursing cover if you want one (it can also be used as your burp cloth), wet wipes, and diapers. You’ll need to change your baby’s diaper every two to three hours.2 This is to prevent diaper rash and build-up from dangerous bacteria like E-coli from poop. So, plan the number of diapers you’ll need based on how long you’ll be away from home.

baby wipes, diapers, and nursing cover

However, babies pee about 20 times a day during the first few months.2 It would be costly and exhausting if you tried changing your baby’s diaper every time. You want to change hers every two to three hours but don’t need to wake them from changing a wet diaper.

Using Cloth Diapers? Bring a Wet Bag

wet bag and Esembly cloth diapers

Buy Wet Bag Buy Cloth Diapers

If you’re using cloth diapers, the same rules apply for how often you change the baby and how many diapers you need. But you’ll also need a wet bag for soiled diapers to pop them in the washing machine when you get back. A wet bag is a good idea in general for those blowouts. You don’t want poopy clothes hanging out in your diaper bag.

Toys & Activities

Crinkle book and musical toy for babies

Buy Book Buy Toy

For me, the hardest thing to figure out was how many toys and activities I needed to bring for my baby. My son wasn’t the best sleeper and was always alert and curious. I didn’t need five toys, some books, or a lovey. He was happy to be looking out the window of the car. If he got fussy, I gave him his stuffed caterpillar and pacifier. Sometimes, a couple of teething toys worked well when he was teething, but babies are pretty stoked just checking out their surroundings and looking at you. However, entertaining your kid gets a little harder once they hit the toddler stage.

How to Pack a Diaper Bag for a Toddler

Packing diapers, a wet bag for accidents, and messy clothes until they’re potty trained is helpful. However, ages 12-18 months need five-to-six per day, 18-24 months need four-to-five per day, and 24-36 months need two to three per day.3 Thankfully, that’s less space than diapers in your diaper bag. But you will replace them with snacks, snacks, and more snacks.

GoBe Kids Snack Spinner
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According to the CDC, toddlers need something to eat or drink about every two to three hours or about five or six times a day.4 Depending on how long you’ll be gone, pack accordingly. Sometimes, snacks work better for keeping your toddler occupied than toys if you’re going on a long car ride. Pop out a delicious new snack when they start to fuss; I bet they’ll be happy in no time. And don’t forget their water bottle for drinks.

Thermos water bottles
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Pack an Activity or Two

If snacks aren’t working, my son always enjoyed a book where he could turn the pages and feel the textures and crinkle toys. As he got older, he also enjoyed window clings, Crayola no-mess markers, and coloring books. I kept all these things in the car for him to do while we were driving. When we were out of the car, I would bring a book or two for him to look through or for me to read to him in a waiting room.

Quiet books
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And, of course, pack some extra pairs of pants and shirts for accidents.

Now that you know what to pack in your diaper bag, there are ways to ensure you grab what you need more efficiently so you don’t feel bogged down.

Tips to Not Over-Pack Your Diaper Bag

  • Make a checklist of items you’ll need before heading out.
  • Purchase a diaper bag with lots of pockets and great accessible storage. Be consistent with where you store things in your bag so you don’t have to search for something.
  • Reorganize once a week. It’s essential to review what you have, what you need, and what you don’t.
  • Use gallon-sized Ziploc bags to store changes of clothes. You can remove the air from them, flatten them, and stack them so they take up less space in the bag.
  • Pack two diapers for each hour you’ll be gone. You won’t be sorry.
  • Buy diaper bag essentials and keep them separate from your “home essentials.” Instead of trying to pack it every time you leave the house, keep your bag filled and replenish it once you get home.
  • Buy travel-sized items instead of full-sized ones to put in the bag. To save space, you can even throw a handful of wipes into a Ziploc bag before leaving the house.
  • Make sure you pack for the weather. If it’s warm outside, you probably don’t need those extra layers for your baby.
  • Keep any oversized coats, baby blankets, or winter wear out of the bag and inside the car until needed.

What toys, snacks, and distractions you’ll need depends on the kid and other factors, like how well they do in the car, whether you’re carrying them, or if they’re in a stroller. But if you pack diapers, wet wipes, formula, snacks, and some activities, they’ll be happy campers. And for all those once-in-a-blue-moon items? Keep them in your car instead of tossing them in your diaper bag. There’s no need to lug that around when it’s for a just-in-case scenario.

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Abi is an Atlanta-based lifestyle writer, reporting on children's books, fertility, pregnancy, labor, breastfeeding, parenting, and pop culture. She has been a freelance writer and editor for the past 11… Read more

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