Top 5 Diaper Bag Essentials

Jessica Shyba

Posted By: Jessica Shyba

Jessica Shyba is the wife of a NYU Dental School student and full time stay at home mother to Jack, 5, Zoe, 3 and Beau, 6 weeks. Jessica shares her adventures around Manhattan with kids on her blog, Momma’s Gone City.

It pains me to think that my sweet little newborn baby will be three months old come Wednesday of this week.  It really feels like we only just walked him home from the hospital as a brand new family of five.

Now that my oldest is five and our middle child is three, I had gotten so used to carrying around less kid-accoutrement. I ditched the “diaper bag” just about a year ago, right before Zoe decided she was ready to be totally diaper-free.  That was extremely liberating, as you can imagine. So liberating in fact, that I vowed to never own a diaper bag again.

Now that we’re three months into the new baby life once again, I can honestly say that diaper bags-whether or not they are specifically made to be diaper bags-are completely necessary.  There is a litany of STUFF that mothers need to care for their wee ones when they are on the go, and never more so than for city parents.  As a suburban momma, I kept a solitary bag in my vehicle that I never removed-only refilled it as necessary.  Here in the city where we don’t own a car/keeper of all things, I have a bag that I take with me when I leave the apartment in the company of my children.  The nice thing about being a seasoned parent is knowing what I absolutely MUST have with me, and things that aren’t totally necessary, i.e. stuff that will only weigh me down.

So, in no particular order of importance, here is my Top 5 List of Diaper Bag Essentials:

  1. Diapers
  2. Wipes. Bring a small case so that you don’t have to lug an entire stack.
  3. Nursing Cover-Because you just never know what situation you’ll be in when your baby needs to nurse.
  4. Hand Sanitizer. I travel with the all-natural brand and use it on all of us
  5. Plastic Bags. I’ve used these for soiled diapers, soiled clothing (which reminds me of the 6th thing you must have), and even bodily fluids for car sickness and times where there is no potty around.
  6. Extra clothing. Baby breast milk blowouts are epic and frequent.

I always seem to have a few extra items in the diaper bag along with those things, such as clean pacifiers, pacifier wipes, crayons, stray cheerios and other packaged snacks, a burp cloth, changing mat, and almost always a bottle of water. Since we’re generally traveling via foot, the bag that I carry must be lightweightand easy to sling over my shoulder since normally I am also wearing the baby. Depending on your lifestyle and the ages of your children, your essentials will change-sometimes weekly. 

I’ve found that if I go through my diaper bag once a week and remove everything that I either didn’t use or didn’t consider using the week prior, it’s easy to pare down to your absolute essentials. Babies actually don’t NEED much in the way of things, but it’s easy as a mother to stock up on the latest gadgets that claim to make parenting “easier”.  I have found in the past 5 years that I’ve been a mother that many of those fantastic inventions are just gimmicky and take up prime real estate in my diaper bag. Then again, if toting around everything in your child’s nursery feels better and safer to you, than go ahead and do it. I’m certain it’s the only way I survived my very first year as a parent.

9:00am on Tuesday March 6


8:53pm on Tuesday August 28

I'm about to birth our 4th - the oldest being 5 1/2. I always have a simple change of clothes for all - and an extra tshirt for ME! Ditch the nursing cover for light muslin blanket that can be sooooo many things - even an outfit if needed!! and NO diaper bag - BACKPACK!

Stephanie of
4:56pm on Sunday July 1

I also have a 5-year-old, 3-year-old, and I can relate to this post on many levels.

Like you, I had stopped using a diaper bag altogether about a year ago. Now, I opt for an ERGO backpack to keep my hands free.

My top five are:
1. Diapers
2. Wipes
3. Nursing Cover
4. Cell phone
5. Extra onesie for the baby.

I also *try* to remember to throw in snacks and water bottles.

Mercedes Emma
11:22am on Friday March 9

The only reason you might NEED a nursing cover is if the weather is really bad - super high UV index or driving rain. I hope those are the only reasons Jessica has in mind. Nursing babies and their mamas have NOTHING to hide!!!

Allison Zapata
8:08am on Thursday March 8

It also helps to have a stylin' diaper bag that doesn't LOOK like a diaper bag :)Recently got one from timi & leslie - the charlie bag, I think. It fits a ton and I still feel like it's just a bag :)

Kristin Swenson (BonBon Rose Girls)
2:17pm on Wednesday March 7

Sassy makes a roll of plastic bags that's perfect for diaper bags...They were always in my bag with number one and will be with number two! And, OMG, having extra outfits is clutch!

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