A mom going through her diaper bag checklist

For new parents, outfitting the changing station in a nursery or packing the diaper bag for seamless on-the-go diaper changes is a bit of a guessing game. You need diapers and wipes, of course, but what else? And how do you choose which products to buy in a sea of options? These changing-table and diaper-bag checklists will take the guesswork out of your next step in new-baby prep.

Your Diaper Bag Checklist

Need a bit more info? Check out our quick tips for choosing diaper-bag essentials, plus a selection of best-selling products.

1Backpack Diaper Bags

Family using a backpack diaper bag on a hike

When it comes time to decide on a diaper bag, stick with a backpack. It will distribute the weight more evenly than a shoulder bag and will have plenty of space for you to tote all the essentials. Plus, many backpack diaper bags come with insulated slots for bottles, multiple compartments to help you stay organized and a portable changing pad, so you’ll always have a ready surface to plop down your little one.

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Quick Tip
You can also build your own diaper bag with a standard backpack, insulated lunch bag and waterproof travel pad.

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Baby sleeping in diaper

Whether you go with convenient disposable diapers or more eco-friendly cloth diapers, it’s a pretty personal choice that depends on your time constraints, budget and goals.

  • Disposable: These diapers are made from layers of synthetic or natural material that surround a super-absorbent polymer—all components that are safe for your little one. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, you may like organic diapers, often made from organic cotton, or eco-friendly diapers fashioned from renewable or biodegradable materials.
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Quick Tip
It will be tempting to buy diapers in bulk when you see a good sale, but babies grow out of sizes in the blink of an eye. Instead of only buying your child’s current size, buy up a size or two so you won’t be stuck with excess boxes.

  • Cloth: These reusable diapers are made from fabric (usually cotton, flannel or bamboo) and come in a range of fits and formats (flats/pre-folds, fitted, all-in-one, hybrid). Flats and pre-folds are cheapest, while all-in-ones and hybrids are most expensive—but also most convenient.[1]
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Newborns need about 8 to 10 diaper changes a day, so it’s ideal to have at least 20 cloth diapers in your baby’s size. Many parents go with disposable diapers for the first few months to avoid doing so many washes.[2]

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3Baby Wipes

Mom wiping baby's face with baby wipe

Just about any baby wipe will do in a pinch, but you still might prefer one brand of wipe over another when you have the option. You might want to consider a few different aspects:

  • Price: Cheaper wipes may appear to save you money at first, but they’re often thinner and you may have to use more at each diaper change. Before buying in bulk (which cuts the cost per wipe), do a test run.
  • Ingredients: If your baby has sensitive skin, look for unscented, hypoallergenic wipes.
  • Environmental impact: Worried about your effect on the environment? Try wipes that are reusable or biodegradable.

For your changing station, a wipe dispenser that opens with one hand is helpful. For travel, resealable packages keep wipes fresh.

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4Barrier Creams

Mother applying diaper rash cream to baby's bum

Barrier cream is a diaper-bag essential that you’ll apply to your baby’s tush for protection against moisture and diaper rash. Textures range from smooth ointments to thick pastes and often include zinc oxide, which is usually the active ingredient in diaper rash cream.[3]

You might want to look for the following features, depending on your preferences:

  • Unscented
  • Organic
  • Hypoallergenic/formulated for sensitive skin

Shop Popular Barrier and Rash Creams


Baby sucking on a pacifier

If you have a little one who hates being changed, or you’re attempting a diaper change very close to a feeding, having a pacifier nearby can help to calm an irritated baby.

You might want to look for these features:

  • Dishwasher safe
  • Only one piece (so no parts can come loose)
  • Air holes (so it’s breathable and won’t trap moisture next to the skin)[4]

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6Changing Tables

Concord Baby Devon Changing Table

Some parents want a changing table to kit out their nursery, while others find a low dresser and contoured changing pad works just as well. Whatever you choose, make sure you have appropriate storage for everything you need. Cloth or plastic storage bins with dividers can be helpful for units with shelving, while drawer inserts can help to keep drawers organized.

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7Diaper Pails

Girl stepping on diaper pail pedal in nursery

You don’t necessarily need to buy a specialized diaper pail, but you might be grateful to have one the first time you deal with a poop-tastrophe. An enclosed diaper disposal system (like a Diaper Genie) seals dirty diapers in a filtered environment to trap smells. That said, a regular garbage pail with a secure lid will also keep odours to a minimum. You’ll just need to be more diligent about emptying it.

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Article Sources

  1. Babylist. Best Cloth Diapers of 2021.
  2. Babylist. Best Cloth Diapers of 2021.
  3. Mayo Clinic. Diaper Rash.
  4. What to Expect. Best Pacifiers.