What’s in Your Diaper Bag?

One thing I wondered when I was pregnant was what everyone was carrying around in those huge diaper bags.  I observed moms and dads dragging around overstuffed bags bigger than the carry-on luggage I’d use for a weekend trip.  What the heck did they have in there–fully cooked meals, extra outfits, an entire package of diapers?  I didn’t get it.  And I must admit, I still don’t.  I’ve been a mother for over two years now and have never carried around a diaper bag. 

During my daughter’s first six months or so, I didn’t bring anything with me on outings I knew would last just an hour or two.  I mean, I seriously didn’t bring anything for the baby: not a diaper, a book, a toy.  If I was planning on being gone for longer, I would tuck a Zip-loc bag into my purse. The Zip-loc would contain one extra diaper, another Zip-loc for the wet diaper, and a little baggie with two or three wipes.

Now that my daughter is older, I have to be a little more prepared on outings.  I still use the same Zip-loc/diaper system, but I’ll also bring a small book, a little snack, and a cup.  This all fits in the bag I’d normally carry around–a regular bag, not a diaper bag.

I know diaper bags don’t have to be gigantic pink bags appliquéd with teddy bears and ducks.  Hey, there are even some stylish, eco-friendly bags out there, like this messenger bag (pictured) I found on Zoe B Organics.  I wanted to avoid an extra purchase, and I never minded being diaper-bag free.

But I still want to know: what do YOU keep in that jumbo diaper bag?!


  1. When my son was really little I carried nursing pads (always leaking), an extra shirt for myself (again, always leaking), a change of clothes for him (spitting up or diaper accidents), an extra diaper or two, and wipes. Sometimes a burp cloth or receiving blanket and a little hat if I thought he’d need it.

    Later on I added snacks, his Klean Kanteen sippy cup and a toy or two to the mix.

    I don’t have to carry much now, it’s quite a relief.

  2. Even for short trips, I never wanted to be caught without an extra diaper and a change of clothing because I am the type of mom that when we make the effort to get to the grocery store or wherever, that shopping is getting done, hell or highwater. I am not going to leave the store to go change a diaper and then come back later. By my second child, I was fine with just carrying a slightly bigger purse (I call it my MOM purse) and sticking it in there. I sometimes carried wipes, but usually found that a wet paper towel works fine in an emergency. Oh, and for my first, I was never without a binky or two. When I was breast-feeding I also had breast pads and a blanket.

    For longer trips – a few hours to all day – I would add a blanket or two, another change of clothes, sunblock, hat, a sweater or jacket, a few small toys or books and food. I learned to pack my own snacks because we ended up buying take-out if I forgot the snacks.

    It totally depends on what you’re doing. I was never one to feel like the diaper bag had to go everywhere with me. Nowadays, we are pretty much done with diapers, but when we go out all day (like to the zoo) and we are riding the bus, I will pack one backpack that the kids take turns carrying and it will have snacks, water bottles, an extra layer in case it gets cold and extra pants for the 4 year old.

  3. I only took a “diaper bag” when we were going some place for a longer length of time. Now I just use my hand bag which has a spare diaper and wipes in it.

    I do sometimes take a larger bag with a change of clothes for the kiddoes if it’s likely they will get wet/dirty etc.

  4. We have a diaper bag mostly to satisfy my husband. He’s one of those types who packs 2 weeks worth of clothing and supplies for a weekend trip.

    When I take my 7-month-old out, typically I have a tiny bag with a couple of diapers, wipes, and spit cloth. The bag attaches to her carseat handle. A hat, toy or two, and small blanket stay in the car at all times so we don’t have to carry those separately.

    I don’t put this stuff in my purse because I don’t usually carry one; wallet, phone, and keys fit in pockets. I even made a trip to the doctor once, an hour and a half away, without anything for baby (unintentionally) and didn’t really miss it.

  5. Nowadays (my son is nearly two), I typically just tuck a diaper and nearly-empty wipes pack inside the changing pad that came with the diaper bag, and stick that in a messenger-bag-style purse (which is still about half the size of the diaper bag) along with a sippy cup of water and maybe a baggie of organic crackers.

    But when he was tiny and spit up about every 2.5 minutes and pooped three times a day, I carried: two spare diapers, wipes, a burp cloth, change of clothes for him, spare shirt for me, snacks & a water bottle for me if we were going to be out a while, or a book if we were going on a walk somewhere and he might fall asleep, giving me time to sit peacefully in a coffee shop with a novel (those were the days!).

    But yes, it all depend on where you’re going and for how long. I don’t bring anything for a short grocery run or trip to the playground, but if we’re going shopping or to the zoo, etc., then I pack stuff. And now that it’s summer (almost) I need to remember about sunscreen, hat, and a towel because if there is water *anywhere* in the vicinity, my son will be in it.

  6. With my first I just carried a bigger bag with a diaper or two, a change of clothes, wipes and who knows what else. Later on I got a nicer bigger purse (not bigger than my previous one just bigger in general) and just put in a diaper and wipes and a book and sippy.

    Now with two I’ve become a diaper bag toter. Maybe because I like my diaper bag. It holds diapers for the two of them, dried out wipes, my wallet, a small toy sometimes, snacks, sippy cup, nursing pads, change of clothes for the 3monther. I’m realizing though that the 2yr old needs the change of clothes more than the 3mo. Yesterday she came home wearing 6mo pants. They fit just like capris, she’s small!

  7. I’ve always wondered the same thing!

  8. Okay, I’m a prepared freak that never knows where I’ll be or when I’ll need something so I ALWAYS have a diaper bag. I’m always prepared with the extra clothes, bigs, wipes, diapers, snacks, sippy cup, bandaides, sunblock, toys, lipgloss, money, etc. The diaper bag has essentially become my purse so it has my stuff and the kids. The reason I do this is to feel in control. I have many times been out someplace without the bag and everytime I end up needing something from it. I’ve also planned something for one hour and it turned into four and had I not had the “bag” we couldn’t have stayed as long. The bag frees me from having to go home and get something or cut the time short. The bag frees me from buying something on the fly and wasting money because I forgot the bag at home. I guess I don’t understand how a mom can’t have a diaper bag. It’s like Mary Poppins bag of tricks to me. I guess I’m saying, I’m Mary Frickin’ Poppins! LOL! The green version though!

  9. Hmm, the psychology of the diaper bag . . . I guess I DON’T pack very much for the same reason Sommer (aka, the Green Mary Poppins) DOES pack a lot: the freedom! Carrying a lot of stuff makes me feel hampered down. I don’t want to be walking around like a pack mule, I want to be light and free of diapers, shirts, nursing pads, and snacks! I agree with Angel Funk–it’s a relief not to have to depend on so much stuff.

    Eileen, I like the idea of having the kids carry their own stuff once they’re older.

    Penny, it seems like you adhere to the minimalist diaper bag philosophy as well. (Although a change of clothes would be going too far for me!)

    Carolyn, that’s interesting that your husband is the diaper-bag advocate in your household.

    Larisa, I am more likely to be carrying around a book than a diaper . . . don’t know what that says about my parenting style. Hm.

    Sara, my 2 year-old wears tiny pants all the time, too. She doesn’t fit in the longer ones–she’s too skinny. So I guess all her pants are capris.

    Thanks for all the comments so far. This has been very revealing!

  10. So Rebecca, what do you do if you are out and your kid blows out of her diaper? Do you just have to go home at that point? What if you’re at a wedding or an amusement park or somewhere you really don’t want to leave? I am genuinely curious because I agree on loathing to carry all that stuff and am intrigued by your boldness. The possibility of carrying so little is exciting! lol.

  11. Well, if I had to go to a wedding or amusement park or something, I would bring an extra diaper or two. I don’t think I’ve ever packed a change of clothes, though.

    Also, keep in mind that I don’t drive . . . so my outings do not take me very far. I walk to the library, to the grocery store, book store, restaurants, coffee shops, etc., that are all within a half-mile of my house. If my daughter had a diaper blow-out, it would be easy to just walk home. I don’t think this has happened more than once or twice in her life, though!

    If I take a car or bus journey somewhere, I would take a diaper (if I remembered). If you have a car I guess there’s no reason NOT to pack stuff. I just don’t like lugging it around.

  12. I’m with Sommer. Maybe its my Mazama training, or some genes passed to me by my OCD eagle scout dad (Eileen, you know what I’m talkin’ about…) But, I always bring the bag and it usually includes:

    a few diapers
    at least one cover
    a snappi fastener
    a diry bag
    a change of clothes
    butt cream
    hand sanitizer
    a hat
    a baggy of snacks
    a toy or book
    my wallet

    I no longer need to carry these items, but used to:
    breast pads
    a receiving blanket

  13. rebecca's mom says

    I made a diaper bag out of an old pair of jeans. It had 4 built in pockets! It’s been a long time so I don’t remember what all I carried in it but I liked having a “homemade” bag that was quite fashionable at the time.

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