Updated February 2019
If you ever plan on leaving the house for a long(ish) period of time, you’ll need a diaper bag. Technically, it doesn’t have to be an official “diaper bag,” any large tote will do (I promise!). Bonus to getting a proper diaper bag? Pockets for days… and other niceties, like insulated bottle holders, stroller straps and built-in changing pads.
If you’re lucky, your diaper bag will become your laptop/everything bag, lonnnng after your diapering days are over (not kidding).
Here are some of our favorite brands and styles:
Skip Hop is an affordable, crowd-favorite brand. They have really stepped up their fashion game over the last couple years, making these “basic” bags anything but.
Duo ~ $65 ($35 on sale)
Basic but wonderful because of the stroller straps. Its counterpart, the Dash (~$65) is equally simple and utilitarian.
Chelsea Downtown Chic ~ $99
Looks more like a purse and is even more fabulous. *Meg used the previous version (the Studio bag) for years and it held up very well.
What’s really nice about Skip Hop, is that you can get matching diaper bag accessories: changing station ($29), insulated bottle bag ($10), wet and dry bag ($15) – I (Melissa) use mine all the time – and pacifier pocket ($8).
So many patterns and colors to choose from, Petunia Pickle Bottom bags are ornate yet practical and last forever. They have been a parent-fave for a while!
Boxy Backpack ~ $189
This is the favorite. The canvas is coated so you never have to worry about stains. It’s known for its features like magnetic closures and the main compartment folds out to become your diaper changing station.
In the same price category as Petunia Pickle Bottom is the beloved Ju-Ju-Be. Yes, it’s pricey, but you get what you pay for. Ju-Ju-Be bags boast features that moms need like; metal hardware instead of plastic, insulated bottle pockets, luggage style feet, multiple carry options (back, shoulder, stroller, etc.), tons of prints, cell phone pocket, anti microbial lining and best of all – you can WASH THESE BAGS in the WASHING MACHINE – huh? Awesome. People are nuts over these bags.
“B.F.F.” Diaper Bag ~ $180 ($141 on sale)
Debatably their most popular bag, the B.F.F. is a convertible backpack that comes in many beautiful designs. I highly recommend.
“Be Right Back” Backpack Diaper Bag ~ $155 ($124 on sale)
More of a backpack-type family? Parents rave that this is the best backpack diaper bag on the market. The straps are comfortable, lots of pockets and good amount of storage – it can even fit a small laptop (13″)!
Peruse their extensive collection here.
A 2016 ABC Baby Show discovery. Beautiful and affordable(!!) bags for men and women. Here are a few that stood out to us:
Rambler Satchel ~ $64
The perfect neutral diaper bag. We like that this bag can be used years after the last diaper. Also – backpack.
Marindale Backpack ~ $90
Because daddy doesn’t want to carry around your floral print purse-looking diaper bag.
What Goes In?
What to carry in your diaper bag?
- a changing pad (usually comes with the bag) and a disposable pad (for use in public restrooms)
- a few diapers
- a travel wipes case or resealable wipes
- diaper rash cream
- diaper sacks
- a spare outfit (in case of a blowout), a sweater or jacket for baby, and – depending on your baby’s spit up situation – a spare top for you
- a nursing cover and/or muslin blanket — or a bottle, formula, etc. in an insulated bag
- a couple of pacifiers (one is bound to end up on the ground)
- a couple of toys perhaps
- a snack and water for your older kiddo… or you 😉
Diaper Bags for Men
Looking for a bag that men won’t be embarrassed to carry?
Paperclip Diaper Bags ~ $299
Our new favorite daddy bags (from the 2016 baby show). Check out our quick review here. These are gorgeous. Moms love them too… AND they’re perfect for laptops and other things throughout the post-diaper years.
Ju-Ju-Be Helix ~ $90
An awesome dude bag ~
“The best pacifiers are the ones your baby will take,” says pediatrician Natasha Burgert, MD.
I couldn’t agree more.
Passies (pacis? passys? passii?) are very much a matter of personal taste. Get several different brands and let your baby choose his favorite.
Then buy lots of those. And a pacifier clip so you don’t loose them.
Soothie by Philips AVENT
The overwhelming favorite pacifier. It makes baby’s mouth look like a suckerfish on the side of an aquarium – very entertaining! It’s also good for breastfed babies due to the rounded nipple shape.
Also very popular, especially their glow in the dark “Night Glow” pacifiers. No more fishing around the crib at night, these puppies stand out in the dark.
Now I must tell you about my friend Wubs. WubbaNubs, that is. WubbaNubs are soft plush toys with a passie (Soothie brand) attached, so your babe can actually hang onto it and keep it in for more than 5 minutes at a time. These are must-haves for any passie addict.
After baby’s teeth start coming in (anywhere from 6-12 months), you should switch to an “orthodontic nipple.” “Ortho” passies are specifically shaped to prevent teeth from going out of position and are more durable to withstand the inevitable gnawing. We recommend the NUK Airflow Orthodontic Pacifier.
Baby’s Medicine Chest
You know those baby first aid and grooming kits, which come with, like, 50 items? You don’t need all that crap. Seriously.
Here’s what you really need:
Did I mention the razor sharp baby claws already? Yes, I think so. For whatever reason, baby fingernails grow fast and are incredibly thin and jagged. Please arm yourself with some baby nail clippers and be not afraid to use them.
Honestly? I find the cheapest/simplest clippers work the best. Safety 1st is good. The built-in lights and skin guard that others have just get in my way.
Get two and put one in your travel kit.
Yes, someone always chimes in about now and says, “ya know, you can just bite them off with our teeth?” Go right ahead, if that’s your jam. I suggest everyone else clip your baby’s nails like a normal person.
The key is to distract baby with something (TV? sure) and trim her nails in good light. Eventually, your nail-clipping jitters will fade away.
Another option is to use a baby nail file. I suggest the Baby Blue Giraffe nail file (below) – it’s gentle and works fast. Yes, you can also use the .99 cent emery board from the drugstore, but note that the grit is quite large for newborn nails.
Another cool “filing” option is the Little Martin’s Drawer (~$29) electric rotary trimmer. It comes with pads for your toddler and yourself. It’s super quiet so it won’t scare baby and it even has a light on the tip if you need it. Just know it’s battery operated!
Yet another option is to use nail scissors, like these Piyo Piyo Nail Scissors, another mommy favorite.
Those are your nail trimming options in a nutshell 😀
Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow (and not before 2 months of age), but soon enough you will need some acetaminophen for teething pain or post-vaccination pain or for reducing a fever.
This stuff works wonderfully. Be extra sure to follow the dosing instructions on the package (make SURE you are using INFANT, not CHILDREN’S, though I’ve been told recently that they are the exact same thing – but always check the package!). Tylenol, tried and true for years, works just fine.
Remember, you can also use baby Motrin, but not until 6 months of age; this stuff works wonders for teething pain.
*Note from Dr. Pope (my friend and amazing pediatrician): “Remember: NOTHING before 2 months (call the doctor!), acetaminophen after 2 months (but call the doctor if fever is persistent and/or over 101 F), and from 6 months on you can use acetaminophen (every 4 hours) OR ibuprofen (every 6 hours)…but still call the doctor for a fever over 101 F.” Got it?
If your little one doesn’t like to take medicine from a syringe, try the Pacidose. Invented by a doctor. Medicine is fed through the syringe into a pacifier for fuss-free delivery.
3. Anti-Gas Medicine
You may find that about 90% of your baby’s woes are related to gas pain. Babies’ immature digestive systems are prone to gas problems. If you’ve ever had bad gas pain, you understand the discomfort it causes. Welcome to “colic.”
Look for the active ingredient “simethicone,” which is the same active ingredient in Gas-X, etc. Simethicone weakens the surface tension of gas bubbles, thereby allowing them to break up (i.e., burping or farting). I recommend:
Little Remedies for Tummys. You may also look into gripe water (Mommy’s Bliss seems to be the favorite). Many moms swear by this too. I used the crap out of this stuff with baby Alice; it’s hard for me to say if it worked or not.
Whether or not any of this stuff actually works is still a mystery to doctors. There isn’t conclusive evidence either way. Anecdotally, it seems to work — or it could just be the sweetness that seems to alleviate crying.
If your baby has terrible, chronic gas pain (especially after finishing a course of antibiotics), I highly recommend a high-quality probiotic. When I say this stuff worked miracles on Alice’s digestive system, I’m not even kidding. She went from being up several times a night screaming with pain to sleeping peacefully through the night (well, sort of). Note that you need to buy this stuff in person because it also requires refrigeration. You can find it at Whole Foods and many times, your local drugstore pharmacy will special order it for you (24 hours notice). *Consult your pediatrician with questions.
4. Snot Remover
Lesson #1 of motherhood: make sure your baby can breathe. You will probably be sent home from the hospital with an old-fashioned bulb syringe (a bulb aspirator) and strict instructions about how to suck mucus out of your baby’s nose. This is critical because newborns ONLY breathe through their nose and if it’s blocked…it’s bad news.
I recommend taking it a step further and getting NoseFrida the Snotsucker (~$15). Yes, that’s really the name. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it looks. And NO, the snot does NOT go into your mouth (yuck).
An alternative to the NoseFrida is the BabyComfy nasal aspirator (~$13). The main difference between the two is that BabyComfy uses a tissue as a filter vs. NoseFrida which uses their own filters that you may have to repurchase (only if snot touches the filter). BabyComfy comes with a newborn and a standard tip vs. NoseFrida which is one-size fits all.
You can also find battery-powered snot-sucking devices if you aren’t up for the [ahem] mouth job. These are also very highly rated and easy to use.
This is essential for when your baby gets his first cold.
5. A Thermometer
There is something I need to clear up right away… you know those great little digital ear thermometers? Well, guess what, those do NOT work on babies for… a long, long time. The reason is because their ears are too small to get an accurate reading (unless you are a trained professional and know how to do it right every time).
The gold standard in pediatric temperature-taking is [sorry to say] the simple rectal thermometer. It’s the most accurate way of taking a baby’s temperature. I don’t like it either, people, but it works!
For those about to email me and say, “But the nurse at the hospital said to never use a rectal thermometer because I might puncture my baby’s bowel…”
A rebuttal from Dr. Jessica:
“Rectal is definitely best, I don’t want to imagine what you would have to be doing to cause a bowel perforation. If you use a little lube and only insert the silver tip and not the whole darn thing, it’s hard to go wrong.
With very young babies, the armpit temp is pretty close, but at that age you really want to know for sure, so rectal is still the way to go. For older babies and kids, armpits are usually about a degree lower than core temp, so you get a pretty good idea this way and knowing the exact temperature after a certain age isn’t that crucial.
Ear thermometers are a waste of money. Temporal thermometers work well in settings where they can be calibrated often, but aren’t very reliable when you buy them from the store. So… yeah, good old-fashioned rectal or sub-lingual temps are still the most accurate, and anyone who is really worried about bowel perforation is doing it SCARILY wrong.”
An alternative to these is the aforementioned temporal artery thermometer. I find the Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer to be really quick and easy, although I will go back and take a rectal temp if I’m questioning the temporal reading. *Full disclosure: I (Meg) received a free sample to test, but these opinions are all my own.
With a simple swipe across the forehead, you can get a very accurate, hassle-free temperature reading. This thermometer takes some practice (it’s a little strange because you start with it in the OFF setting), but once you master it, you’re good to go.
6. Skin Care
There are a handful of ailments that nearly every infant experiences in his/her first year of life: cradle cap, diaper rash, dry skin – oh, and let’s not forget about diaper thrush from H-E-double toothpicks. And don’t even get me started on the eczema.
Read more about our favorite skin care products by Baby Pibu here.
Another simple skincare staple to have in your drawer is Coconut Baby (100% organic), which can be used for so many ailments: cradle cap, eczema, psoriasis, and diaper rash to name a few (note: will melt if too hot!). I have stolen this from my kids so I can use it myself, mwaaaaaa. Sorry kids!
Hatch Baby Grow ~ $129
Hatch Baby Grow, the smart changing pad, is an integrated baby scale and changing pad. With Hatch Baby, you can track your baby’s daily activity (growth, feedings, weight gain, sleep, diaper changes) and developmental milestones.
This is not for everyone!!!! I promise. I find it perfect for the working mom who wants daily updates from home or for a first time mom who just needs the extra peace of mind (the extra nervous type — you know who you are!) or if you have any reason to expect a preemie (you are pregnant with multiples, high risk, etc.).
Wow – what just happened? We reached the end of Baby Registry Essentials. Holla!!!
Now seriously, are you subscribed to Crib Notes? Click here to join. tha. club.
If you still have any brain power left, read about what you’ll need for 6+ months (what?). Yeah, sorry, there’s mooooore stuff (high chairs, feeding supplies, umbrella strollers, and convertible car seats). Endless, really.
— P.S. See I told you it wasn’t so bad….