Diaper Bag Must-Haves (minimalist approach)

Babies have SO MUCH STUFF. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed when packing for a day out with a little one. Personally, I prefer to stick to just the essentials. I’m not someone who wants to lug the entire nursery with me “just in case.” I find bringing just the must-haves means I’m not only carrying less around but it’s easier to find and grab things when I need them.

I’d say my diaper bag is pretty small, compact, and minimal compared to many of the ones I see others carrying around. I wanted to share my must-have items.

But first, what bags do I use?

What I look for in a diaper bag:

Backpack style: Personally, I prefer a backpack style diaper bag. It makes you 100% hands-free. Plus, husbands don’t mind toting them around.

Not too big: As mentioned above, I prefer to not have to bring a lot with me. Some people might prefer to have everything “just in case” but that’s just not my style. Having a bag that’s not too oversized prevents me from overpacking. It forces me to stick to JUST the essentials which makes trips out a lot easier.

One-handed zip: Something I discovered pretty quickly into going out with a baby is hands are a hot commodity. A bag that requires both your hands to zip closed can be annoying. One-handed zipping is key.

Pockets, pockets, pockets: Obviously, pockets help organize all the baby stuff. I NEED two side pockets where you can put a water bottle and a cellphone. I also prefer a front pocket for quick-grab stuff. Inside the bag itself, I like a few strategic pockets, but sometimes TOO many pockets just gets annoying – so it’s a little bit of a balancing act.

My diaper bags:

I have two diapers bags. One is my more casual, affordable bag. The other is a little more pricy but much more stylish.

If you’re looking for a good affordable option, I love this diaper bag from Amazon. It’s probably one of the most-popular selling diaper bags and I see other parents out and about with it ALL the time. I think two people just at our daycare have it! It’s a great price, comes in a million colors, has the perfect amount of pockets, insulated front, and easy-access back pocket. It fit a surprising amount of stuff for such a small bag, too. I think my only issue with this bag is you can’t zip it with one hand.

My other bag is the Ryla diaper backpack (which for full transparency kindly sent me this bag as a gift but I’m not sponsored nor am I being compensated for this mention, I really just love the bag!) This is beautiful leather. I like that I can carry this with me and still feel stylish as opposed to feeling like I’m toting around a diaper bag – it really is a chic bag! It is just the perfect size, has a front pocket, two side pockets, and a back pocket. I also love that you can zip this with one hand.

Diaper Bag Must-Haves

Portable Changing Mat with diapers/wipes: This Skip Hop portable changing mat is something in so many people’s bags. It holds wipes and diapers and also acts as a quick portable mat to change. It’s great because if needed you can just grab this portion to do a quick diaper change and don’t need your entire bag.

Nursing Cover: Obviously, only needed if you’re breastfeeding. This is my favorite nursing cover. I prefer this cover because I find they are just super easy to whip out and they give me the coverage I feel comfortable. Also, the wire top pops up so I can easily look down and see Miles if needed.

The other option is a 3-in-1 cover.  These are nice because they are multi-purpose, but I find them awkward. It’s hard to stretch them over your shoulders while also getting a hungry/fussy baby underneath. Plus, when you’re feeding you can’t see what’s going on down there.

Burp Cloths: Miles doesn’t spit up a lot, so I can usually get away with just having one small burp cloth. If you have a baby with more reflux, you’ll want to make sure you have at least 2-3.

Muslin Swaddle: I like having a muslin swaddle in my bag because I find them really multi-purpose. They double as burp cloths, can act as a mini blanket, can be used as a car seat cover in a pinch, and are surprisingly good baby toys (Miles will play with them for hours!). I really like the Little Unicorn brand.

Change of Clothing: I keep a sleep n’ play in the bottom of my diaper bag. This is great if I ever need to change Miles’ full outfit. I also keep a pair of socks and a clean onesie. I also keep a t-shirt for myself in the bottom of my bag just in case there is a huge spit-up mishap.

Portable Sound Machine: I never leave without our portable sound machine. If Miles is in need of a nap, the white noise sound will (almost always) help him fall asleep really easily. It also drowns out other sounds allowing him to take “out and about” naps a lot easier. It has saved me more times than I can count.

Extra pacifier or teething toy: Just in case, it’s good to have one! Miles isn’t a HUGE pacifier baby, but he will occasionally use them to soothe.

Stuff for mom: I keep chapstick, hand sanitizer, lotion, and extra hair ties.

Other things: Some other things I usually take out with me but aren’t necessarily IN the diaper bag:

  • Car seat cover: If I want Miles to nap this is a must. I actually forgot it just today when I went out with Miles and when it was naptime he was too distracted to fall asleep. If I had had the cover I’m sure he would have dozed off.
  • Toys: I usually grab one toy on my way out the door. I like clip-on ones I can clip to his car seat or my diaper bag so I don’t have to take up space IN my bag. Miles likes these wind chime toys. They also make hanging toys with a claw clip which is super convenient!!

What are some of your must-have diaper bag items?! What types of bags do you like best?

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I'm Kallie!

Also known as That Practical Mom

I’m all about helping you simplify the chaos of life so you can slow down and enjoy it.

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