Your diaper bag is your sidekick, the constant in your parenting journey.
As you step out of the house, your trusty companion will join and – hopefully – make your outing an altogether easier affair!
Well, I’d be talking from experience when I say this isn’t always the case.
I used to be one of those moms always running around with an unzipped diaper bag – because who doesn’t have a million and one things in theirs? Or time to actually force the zipper closed?
I realized something had to change when I started missing things – a pacifier here, wet wipes there. As a parent, I guess you’re aware of the feeling of defeat when you go to change a soiled diaper, only to not find any wipes!
Luckily, diaper bag woes can easily be solved. I say this now, in hindsight, but to my recently initiated self, everything baby-related felt like rocket science.
Five years and two kids in, I know better, so let me help you out!
Why Is It Important to Organize Your Diaper Bag?
A recent study found that common baby items are dirtier than a pet’s water bowl, with some of the greatest offenders being teething toys, plush toys and sippy cups – all items that at some point or another will reside in your diaper bag.
That said, and as Dr. Shari Platt, chief of pediatric emergency medicine at New York – Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center told NBC News Better, “we’re not raising children in bubbles – a child will be exposed to bacteria when they’re in the outside world (and I’m a strong believer of getting your child outdoors and to experience other children)”.
Still, he continues, “it’s important to keep everything as clean as you can to minimize unnecessary exposure to bacteria”.
Since the diaper bag is on the frontlines of parenting and – in a way – exposed to a larger environment than other items you keep at home, keeping it organized and away from unnecessary messes helps promote overall health.
An unorganized diaper bag with snacks next to a used diaper, or a pacifier thrown in haphazardly, soon becomes a pot of nasty.
On the other hand, an organized diaper bag ensures that all items remain hygienic. That’s reason number one why you should organize your diaper bag.
Moving on to number two: The urgency at which babies and toddlers need things. The word ‘wait’ doesn’t really garner meaning until later on in life!
For now, though, get used to this: when a baby or toddler needs something, they need it NOW!
Of course, trying to find something in the cavernous depths of a diaper bag while the baby’s crying leads to excessive sweating and panicking on your part, which means less successful rummaging.
When every item in your diaper bag has a designated home, with the more regularly used items being stored in exterior pockets for easy reach, any request from your child can be handled easily and quickly, saving you unnecessary stress.
Going longer between cleans, and much easier cleaning, is the third reason why you should keep your diaper bag organized.
When half eaten snacks are left lying around, it’s inevitable that your diaper bag will end up all dirty earlier, which will make cleaning a more arduous task.
With all of that settled, let’s move on to the contents of the diaper bag.
What Should You Pack in Your Baby’s Diaper Bag?
For your baby, here’s a list of items you need to pack:
- Changing pad
- Diaper cream
- Formula / Breastmilk
- Thermal flask for hot water
- Insulated pack for keeping items cold/hot
- Burp cloth
- Small toys
- Spare outfit
- Sippy cup
- Baby utensils
- Reusable snack container to store half eaten snacks
- Teething gel and teether
Moving on from what to pack for your little one, here’s a list of items you’ll need to pack for yourself as well:
- Hand sanitizer
- Spare outfit
Yes, it does seem a lot to pack, but when you’re out and about with a baby in tow, the last thing you’d want is to be caught without any of the absolute necessities!
Don’t worry about any of that, though, because with some thought and proper planning, everything listed above can fit inside your diaper bag.
Here’s how to organize all these items in a foolproof way.
How to Organize Your Diaper Bag
There’s a huge variety of diaper bags available out there for you to choose from, each with plenty of diverse features.
At the end of the day, they all have one aim – to help you lug around half the house when you’re out with the baby!
Follow these steps to make the most of your diaper’s bag space and keep everything in order:
Study the Bag
The first step to organizing any diaper bag is to first go through what it offers: all the pockets, hidden compartments, partitions and their size.
Lay out what it is exactly you need to store in your diaper bag in a way that you can easily view everything, and start mentally placing baby gear in the bag.
As a rule of thumb, things you use often should go in exterior pockets, while others that are used less (such as a change of clothes) should go in the main compartment.
A downside of many diaper bags is that it’s easy to end up with having things hidden in the bag’s depths. To overcome this, consider using a ‘filing system’, using a diverse collection of pouches.
DoltOnaDimeFAMILY explains this perfectly in her video ‘Secrets to an Organized Diaper Bag’.
Once you’ve studied the bag and know what you’re working with, consider adding Ziploc bags or containers for added organization.
Fill up the Exterior
Determine what should go in the exterior pockets. Remember, these should be items that you’re using often, and that your baby doesn’t particularly enjoy waiting for.
These items can include: a sippy cup or bottle, a pacifier in its sterile case, a snack, favorite toy, and a bottle of water for you.
Pocket-sized wipes to address emergency messes and antibacterial lotion for you can also be stored here.
Organize the Interior
Some diaper bags come with removable pockets or caddies for easier storage.
This is super convenient to have, since storing diaper change necessities in a removable pocket or caddy makes diaper changes far easier.
All you need to do is grab the caddy or bag and place it in a reachable position on the changing table.
Sometimes, space on a changer is limited, and the area is simply not enough to place the entire diaper bag in a reachable position.
Having a removable bag system in place also allows you to easily take what’s needed when running a quick errand.
So, in the main interior compartment of your diaper bag, you should store:
- Changing mat
- Diaper cream in a removable caddy/bag
- Outfit change for you and your baby
- Properly sealed hot and cold water flasks for formula
- More snacks
- Burp cloth
- If it’s a long outing, add some sunscreen and some basic medication.
A tip I personally love to share with other parents (since it’s helped me so much) is to place the outfit change in a waterproof bag/pocket.
Spills happen, and we can’t always prevent them! Plus, and speaking from personal experience here, an open packet of wipes next to a onesie makes a wet mess of said piece of clothing. Consider yourself warned!
Use Sample Size Items
A useful trick to save as much space as possible in your diaper bag, to fit it all the items you want placed inside, is to store sample sized items.
Unless you’re going to be away from home with your baby for a few days at once, you won’t need full-sized baby items anyways.
Whenever you get sample sized baby items such as diaper rash cream, baby wipes, baby lotion, and sunscreen, reserve all of them for your diaper bag so they take as minimal space as possible.
Prioritize the Diapers
It goes without saying that diapers should me your main focus when organizing your diaper bag.
Since you’ll need these the most when away from home and having to change your baby, keep them stored in the most spacious compartment of your diaper bag and within easy reach.
Remember that for every hour you’ll be away from home, have two clean diapers stored in your bag. That way, you would be playing it safe.
You can even go for three clean diapers stored in your bag for each hour you’ll be away from home, if you want to stay as safe as possible, just in case leaks or blowouts were to happen.
Anything more than that would be a bit overkill.
There’s no one definite guide or most perfect way for organizing your diaper bag. Parenting is highly dependent on unique situations, after all.
Use this as a guide to start off with and set you on the right foot, and adapt these tips according to your needs and in line with what you find works best for your situation as you go.
That said, the benefits of having an organized diaper bag are clear – why make outings a stressful chore when they can be a joy?!
Oh and before we sign off, don’t forget to give your diaper bag a good cleaning every now and then to keep it in good condition!
P.S: We’ve also put together a guide on how to organize your diaper bag backpack, in case you’re interested in learning all about that as well.