20 Diaper Bag Hacks Every Mom Should Know

Megan Zander | Feb 28, 2019 Baby
20 Diaper Bag Hacks Every Mom Should Know
Image: Megan Zander

diaper bag hacks
Megan Zander

For being so adorably small, babies sure do require a lot of stuff. When it comes to putting together a diaper bag for a day out, knowing what to put in and how to organize it all can get overwhelming quickly. Spare diapers and wipes are obvious, but what else? Will she need a change of clothes? Toys? What about feeding? And why didn't we register for a bigger diaper bag? 

As baby grows, every parent learns through trial and error how to put together a diaper bag and what the essentials are. But rather than learn the hard way (like me, who thought my twins shouldn't leave home as newborns without the entire Winnie the Pooh board book collection) there are diaper bag hacks to learn now to rock this parenting thing from day one. 

Part of packing a diaper bag like a pro is in picking the right bag itself. If having cold bottles of formula on hand is a must, consider a bag with insulated sleeves. If dad plans to do his fair share of carrying the diaper bag, consider a neutral color or a backpack option that frees up the hands. 

The inner workings of a diaper bag will change as kids grow, but there are a few basics that will serve any parent well. Snacks for the family, including mom and dad, can help prevent the dreaded hangries and avoid a trip through the drive-thru when on the go. Toys to entertain bored kids are a must, and a toy tether can help prevent a favorite rattle from getting lost while out and about.

Changing diapers is never fun, but clever diaper bag planning can make swapping old bundles for fresh ones a little easier. Keep diaper changing supplies together in a separate bag that be grabbed quickly and taken to the changing table. Keep a spare shirt for mom and dad with a change of clothes for baby in case a serious spit up situation strikes. 

Let these 20 diaper bag hacks make a day out with baby a little less stressful and a little more fun. 

  • Ditch the Bag for a Backpack

    1

    It's easy to get swept up in baby registry madness, but that giant diaper bag won't be nearly as cute when it's knocking against the car seat while trying to bring both inside. And trying to smush it under the stroller? Annoying. A backpack designed with baby in mind frees up the hands, plus dad won't mind holding it. 

    Axis Backpack, ($139, Petunia Pickle Bottom)

  • Make Tissues Easy To Reach

    2

    Having tissues in the diaper bag is Momming101. But having tissues hanging from the outside of the diaper bag to grab the second an epic snot bubble shoots out of a child's nose is Advanced Momming. Stop scrambling through the bag in a panic trying to find that tiny pack and level up. 

    Go Anywhere Tissues, ($2, Target)

  • Stash a Spare Set of Clothes

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    diaper bag hacks
    Megan Zander

    Spit up and diaper explosions can happen anywhere and at any time. Plan for the worst by keeping a full outfit -- onesie pants and socks (yes, socks too -- trust us) rolled together in a plastic bag. Keeping the outfit bundled makes it easier to find everything while trying to change baby on the go, and the plastic bag can be used to hold the soiled outfit. 

  • Repurpose Breastmilk Storage Bags

    4

    Don't toss leftover breastmilk bags (or those single samples that come with maternity clothes purchases). Their study seals and long shape make them great for diaper bag storage. Use them to hold dry snacks such as crackers or puffs, or for keeping baby spoons sanitary while in the diaper bag. 

    Breastmilk Storage Bags, ($11 for 100, Amazon)

  • Keep Crayons In One Piece

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    diaper bag hacks
    Megan Zander

    Crayons are clutch for keeping kids occupied while waiting at a restaurant or during a long car ride. But with so much rolling around in the bag, it's easy from them to get broken, and we all know how toddlers feel about snapped crayons. Repurpose an empty prescription bottle as a crayon holder to prevent a "the blue is broken!" meltdown. 

  • Travel Formula Dispenser

    6

    Those single-serving formula packages are useful on the go but can be expensive and hard to find. A formula dispenser, such as this one that holds enough for three separate nine-ounce bottles, makes it easier to feed baby on the go without having to worry about keeping premade bottles cold. Just pack a bottle of water and mix as needed. 

    Travel Formula Dispenser ($6, Amazon)

  • Keep Keys Easy to Reach

    7

    With so much stuff inside, it's easy for car keys to go missing inside a diaper bag. No one wants to be digging through the bag looking for them, especially when it's past nap time. Use a colorful carabiner to secure keys to an inside tag or loop so they're always in the same spot and easy to snag. 

    Carabiner, ($7 for 5, Amazon)

  • Make A Diaper Changing Kit 

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    diaper bag hacks
    Megan Zander

    Tuck diaper changing essentials -- wipes, diaper cream, fresh diapers, and a travel changing pad, into a large plastic bag inside the main diaper bag. When a diaper disaster strikes, everything's all together and easy to grab. It's also simple to hand the kit off dad or anyone else stepping up for diaper duty. 

  • Keep Teething Toys Chilled

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    Keep a teething baby from getting fussy while out and about by bringing chilled teething toys in the diaper bag. Fill a wide-mouthed water bottle with ice and a little water. Leave space to tuck a couple teething toys on top, and pop the bottle in the diaper bag. Mom gets to stay hydrated, and the baby has something soothing to gum when needed. 

    Insulated Wide Mouthed Water Bottle, ($40, Amazon)

  • Pacifier Wipes

    10

    It's the moment every mom dreads -- the baby's beloved pacifier hits the disgusting floor at a place where there's no sink in sight, and there's no backup in the bag. Oh no! Popping the paci in our own mouth and declaring it clean is one option (no judgment!) but for germ emergencies like these, having pacifier wipes in the diaper bag is pretty great. 

    Pacifier Wipes, ($5, Amazon)

  • Stash Straws Safely

    11

    Food establishments everywhere are cracking down on the use of single-use plastics, such as straws. That's great news for the environment. But for those of us with small children who are still working on the motor skills needed to sip from an open cup, having a few straws on backup in the diaper bag can be a huge help when out and about. A simple travel toothbrush holder keeps them straight and clean. 

    Travel Toothbrush Holder, ($3 for 6, Amazon)

  • Pack a Spare Shirt

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    diaper bag hacks
    Megan Zander

    Everyone knows to keep a spare change of clothes for the baby in the diaper bag, but only experienced parents know that mom and dad would benefit from having a backup shirt on standby as well. Roll up a unisex T-shirt and tuck it into the bottom of the bag for an "in case of emergency spit up" option.

  • Disposable Changing Pads

    13

    The coordinating changing pad that came with the diaper bag is super adorable and fun to use -- until the first time the baby has a massive poop butt and there's nowhere to clean it. Keep a couple of disposable changing bags in the diaper bag for those "ermygawd" diapers, and save the reusable pad for the "number one only" occasions. 

    Disposable changing pads, ($6 for 10, Amazon)

  • Contain Pacifiers

    14

    Let's be honest, with all the opening and closing and reaching in to grab things, the lining of a diaper bag isn't the most sterile environment. Toss a couple of plastic condiment containers in sidewall pocket to hold protect pacifiers from germs. Not only will it keep them cleaner, but having a dedicated spot to hold pacifiers makes it easier to find one when the baby's getting cranky. 

    Condiment Holder, ($8 for 100, Amazon)

  • Fight Playground Sand With Ease

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    Baby powder may seem like something a grandma would suggest having in the diaper bag, but trust me on this one. A travel size bottle of talc-free baby powder is good for so much more than changing diapers. Rub some on hands and feet to easily dust off playground sand before heading back in the car.

    Cloud Island Baby Powder, ($5, Target)

  • Travel Hand Sanitizer

    16

    We hope no mom ever has to perform an emergency diaper switcheroo on the side of the road or on a park bench where there's no bathroom to be found. But also, we know that life throws us curveballs sometimes, which is why having hand sanitizer in the diaper bag is always a smart move. This spray version dries fast and smells like the ocean. Ahhh.

    Honest Hand Sanitizer Spray, ($3, Target)

  • Wipebox Play Kit

    17

    Got a spare travel wipebox lying around? Use them to make play kits perfect for tossing in the diaper bag. Some small legos for older kids, paper scraps and some crayons for toddlers, or even a simple puzzle. Swap them out to keep the kids newly entertained each time they're out on the town. 

    Anchor Wipebox, ($6, BuyBuy Baby)

  • Use a Toy Tether

    18

    Use a toy tether on the diaper bag to sure the baby's favorite toy or stuffed friend doesn't accidentally get left behind while running errands. Bonus: It keeps toys from hitting the grimy floor. Secure one end to the bag strap and one to the lovey of choice (just make sure to keep an eye on little ones while playing). 

    Toy Tether, ($10, BuyBuy Baby)

  • Bathtime Anywhere

    19

    Sometimes babies need a bath when they're miles from home. A surprise stomach bug, a diaper disaster or maybe they just got a little too into the pasta with red sauce during dinner. Sometimes we need a way to clean them up when there's no tub around. Stash some of this no-rinse baby wash in the diaper bag for an instantly clean child, anywhere and any time.

    No Rinse Baby Wash, ($15, Mustela)

  • Pack Grownup Snacks

    20

    When flying on an airplane with a child, the flight attendants always remind us to secure our own oxygen masks first in the event of an emergency. We can't take care of our kids if we're not in good shape ourselves. When packing the diaper bag with snacks and toys for the kids, be sure to include snacks for the adults too. Low blood sugar isn't a good look on anyone. 

    Cherry Pie LaraBar, ($ 5 for 5, Amazon)


    Psst: If you choose to purchase an item on this list, CafeMom may receive a small cut. Each item and price is up to date at the time of publication; however, an item may be sold out or the price may be different at a later date.

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