One of the most important baby items you’ll need to prepare for a new baby is your diaper bag essentials.
If you cloth diaper, you don’t have to suddenly switch to disposable diapering when you go out, as long as you bring the right stuff with you.
What to Pack in a Diaper Bag
A diaper bag for a cloth diapering parent cannot be a dainty little bag. You definitely need a nice sized diaper bag and often a canvas-material bag will do quite nicely. Once you see the 12 items I recommend to put in your diaper bag, you’ll get a better idea of what size bag you need.
12 Diaper Bag Essentials When Cloth Diapering
This is the essential list I came up with – I can definitely say if I brought all these items with me, I never had any issues and never felt I was missing anything at all. The key is to not try to put everything in the world in your diaper bag since there are enough items you do want to put there.
Bookmark this post to help you with your diaper bag checklist!
1 – 3 cloth diapers for a newborn and 2 cloth diapers for an older baby (6+ months), double with twins
When you are out for just a couple hours, you will only most likely do one diaper change, because it’s usually best practice to change a diaper right before you leave the house.
You want to have at least two more handy for a newborn in case of multiple poops and at least one more for an older baby. If you are using pocket diapers, all-in-one diapers or fitted diapers, snap them up so they compact a bit and stack them in their own compartment.
I recommend using all in ones or pockets for your on the go diapering. In fact I bought all-in-one cloth diapers mainly for when I went out. The reason is it reduces steps. Often you’ll find yourself in an awkward little bathroom without a proper baby changing station. When this happens the less stuff you have to deal with, the better, and an all-in-one or pre-inserted pocket will be a one-step process.
Blueberry Simplex All-In-One Diaper is a great on the go choice, and they have both newborn and one-size options.
2 – 1 Wet Bag and 1 Dry Bag or a Wet/Dry Bag combination
Some bags, like the Planetwise Wet/Dry Bag, come with both compartments. These bags are essential. The wet bag is where you’ll keep your wet wipes – that you’ll pre-wet before going out. You’ll keep 3-4 wet cloth wipes in the wet bag. The dry bag will be empty until you actually change your baby, after which your soiled diaper will go in. The wet and dry bags are usually insulated and have a waterproof inner fabric that helps keep your bag from smelling.
3 – Diaper Cream
I always recommend using a natural cloth-diaper safe diaper ointment on a regular basis especially before and after you know your baby will poop. The ointment, salve, balm or cream is very helpful for wiping when your baby does soil his or her diaper, as it will help eliminate any stickiness. Every bit of help is useful when you are out and about and need to get in and out quicker.
Another great reason to keep diaper balm is that diaper balm is also a great healing ointment, and is safe and good to use if for instance your baby scratches themselves, or has a little cut or bruise. It’s nice to apply something – it’s like your mini-first aid kit.
Also as an added bonus if you use a cream that has a little fragrance it’s nice to have that hit your nose after you’ve just been graced with other smells.
Have a diaper cream, salve or ointment that is specifically for your diaper bag and keep it there. It’s really easy to lose little jars of diaper cream everywhere so keep a separate one handy in your diaper bag at all times.
4 – Pacifiers and/or Teething Toys
In the first year of your baby, it is really important to have on hand at least one or two teething toys. Not only do you need it just to distract your baby a little, but it helps them if they are going through some uncomfortable teething phases. Most babies chronically teethe during their first year and appreciate something to gnaw on! I recommend a BPA-free toy – they are safe and healthy and very popular with babies.
If you use pacifiers, you’ll want to make sure to have a couple on hand – also because if they drop or spit it out, you’ll want to use a clean one.
I also kept a separate teething toy just for the diaper bag. Some people keep pacifiers and teething toys tied to their strollers somehow to prevent losing them – this is also a good idea – whatever works for you.
5 – Diaper Changing Pad
Some diaper bags come with one, but you can purchase portable changing pads that are perfect to fold up and put in your bag. I keep mine in an outer pocket because it’s always the first step, and you will need it before anything else to lay down and place your baby. You definitely don’t want to be stuck having to put your baby on a cold hard surface with a paper towel or something like that.
6 – 2 Books For Older Babies
If your baby is already introduced to books, you’ll want to help keep them occupied in places like restaurants, with a book or two. It also is a calmer activity. I always keep at least two small board books in the bag that I know my baby likes.
7 – Extra Baby Outfit
If you have some issues in the diapering process, or your baby has a saturated diaper suddenly, and happens to leak onto their clothes, you definitely want to have an extra outfit handy. This is more common with newborns who frequently have wet diapers and need lots of changes, but can occasionally happen with older babies too.
8 – Bottles, Food
If you are formula feeding, or even if you are breastfeeding and don’t want to do it when you’re out and have pumped bottles, it’s a good idea to bring a bottle or two. Newborns need lots of feedings. Sometimes you’ll be out longer than you planned and you don’t want to be stuck with a hungry unhappy baby. Other perks of bottles are if you are driving and stuck in traffic, and have a fussy baby on your hands, it’s nice to have a bottle to help soothe them since you can’t remove them from the car seat while driving and breastfeed.
Same thing with food. If your baby is on solids, it’s nice to have one of those organic food pouches on hand for when they might get hungry – or if you can prepare some tupperware containers with food.
9 – Burp Cloths
In the first year of baby, this is one essential baby item you cannot go without. And if you are out and about and your baby spits up, you really don’t want to have to use harsh towels, napkins or your clothes to wipe up your baby. Always bring at least 2 burp cloths with you!
10 – A baby blanket
You can keep this in your stroller as well – I mostly did, especially because you would mostly be using a blanket in the stroller itself – but if there is any reason why you are not using the stroller, then in your diaper bag it goes!
11 – Nursing Cover if you are breastfeeding
Many moms breastfeed exclusively for upwards of six months even. If you are planning to do so, and don’t really want to bother with bottles or pumping, it’s nice to have a nursing cover on hand.
A side note about nursing covers: though they are helpful when you are nursing a very young baby, eventually your baby will get very active and not be happy with a cover over them, so they will thrash about and possibly expose you more openly than if you didn’t have a cover. Therefore, they are most helpful in early months, but prepare to know they lose value once your baby gets to that mobile stage and you may have to get comfortable with a little more exposure. At that stage, you’ll develop tips to be discreet, as I did, such as using your jacket, a menu at a restaurant to shield the general view off, or I would sometimes scoot to the corner of a booth and put my feet up on the seat so my knees were blocking off the view and then I could use my free arm to create a shield. Generally I found all kinds of ways that sometimes people didn’t even notice I had a baby in my arms.
Also I’d use the car – I’d just get in the back seat and nurse. Not having to pump bottles was very convenient for me but everyone is different! If you aren’t shy about openly breastfeeding, that’s fine too.
12 – Your Sling Or Wrap If You Are Babywearing
Along with number 11, slings and wraps are also good ways of shading the general view of the nursing. Since they are usually just long pieces of fabric, they will fit in the bag too.
Other diaper bag essentials tips:
You might want your bag to include your own stuff as well, so feel free to put your wallet, your lip balm, makeup bag etc in there if you want. Sometimes it’s nice to have less bags. Alternatively you may want to keep it all separate. You can try both ways and see what works best for you.
I kept my baby’s shot record in the bag too so I wouldn’t forget it for all the doctor visits. There are so many visits so it’s not a crazy idea I don’t think.
I’m sure you’ve heard that once you have a baby, good luck ever leaving the house on time ever again! Well I hope this article and practice will help you get really quick at keeping your diaper bag in good working order so you can grab the things you need and go, even if you cloth diaper!
And finally, just for some humor…just wanted to post my favorite meme this week:
Hope you found this article on what to pack in a diaper bag when you’re a cloth diapering parent helpful, and useful in your plans. Remember to put any of these extra items on your baby registry checklist.