Now that you're about to enter the previously uncharted territory of two babies (a toddler and newborn) it’s time to level-up your diaper bag game and get serious about some diaper bag essentials.
If you stumbled upon this post and are expecting your first baby keep reading! These second time mom Diaper bag essential tips are a sure fire way to launch you from first-time-mom status into full blown been-there-bought-the-t-shirt bad assery of parenthood (I promise!)
Lucky for you I’ve included a handy Trello diaper bag checklist so you can head to the store and not even have to print out a thing (because digital checklists are better than printable ones every fucking time).
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Table of Contents
A Cindarella Slipper Mission to Find The Right Diaper Bag
In the past five years, I’ve purchased no less than ten diaper bags ranging from the super high end to straight up backpacks from Walmart trying to find the Cinderella's slipper of diaper bags.
I’ve not met one mom in my travels of motherhood who has had the same diaper bag from the jump through multiple kids, traveling, and everything in between. (Is it you? If so know you’re a unicorn.)
And if you’ve found some sort of unicorn diaper bag that has survived the test of time, looks awesome, is functional for multiple kids, and hasn’t fallen apart yet, and is affordable, and stylish, please for the love of god post it below in the comments so that I can include it in this post, k thanks.
Here are some things to make peace with when it comes to living out of a diaper bag:
For a few years, it will be your only bag.
The combo of sleep deprivation and the annoyance of switching things like your wallet and your favorite chapstick/lipstick to a different bag is a pain point that you will, at some point, just give in about.
(And I hope you give in sooner than later and spare yourself from the extra work, momma. Everything is temporary in motherhood, including this).
I had big dreams of having a work bag and a diaper bag and even carrying a purse for a time after my second baby was born but that went out the window by about the third month when I went back to work and legit was bringing diapers with me to the office because my diaper bag at the time could also hold my computer and it was just easier.
(And that’s my whole thing - choose the fucks to give right now, the rest is bullshit.)
If you have two kids under two you’ll potentially be lugging around two different sized diapers, changes of clothes, and if you’re also formula feeding baby, all the extra goodies that come with that.
Even if you have a potty trained toddler there’s going to be a need for a sippy cups, snacks, and a change of clothes because #accidents.
Get your mind right. It’s not going to be cute.
But it can be functional. And somewhat cute...really.
Thankfully the diaper bags on Amazon are pretty amazing these days (and have improved a lot over the past several years!)
A Quick Note About Spending Money on a Diaper Bag
I’ve dropped hundreds of dollars on a designer bag that I ended up selling on the local Facebook market place because I hated how the straps laid on my shoulders and I couldn’t fit everything in the bag.
That was me though.
Designers from Marc Jacobs, to Coach and Tory Burch all make diaper bags that are gorgeous and if you have that kind of cash to throw down (Just know that at some point you may have to switch things up at some point) then do it, momma.
Live your best luxury mom life and enjoy.
If you do want a luxury baby diaper bag, please check out this awesome review video from Emma Anders:
Use Fakespot to Question and Verify Diaper Bag Reviews
If you can test out your bag choices in a store please do! If you don’t have the luxury of time or a local store that sells all the ones you’re interested in, please at the bare minimum run the links for the reviews through Fakespot.
Fakespot.com is a site that takes a close look at the reviews on Amazon and other sites to see if they’re legit or if they’ve been bought. (It’s eye opening, really, and a serious mind fuck but try not to get too lost in the rabbit hole).
Yes, companies will hire writers, usually freelancers (like me!) to write stellar unique reviews for their products.
Fun fact, one of my first ever freelance writing jobs was writing a review for a shower head. They gave me the shower head and paid me $5 and it helped launch my career.
I gave them 5 stars and they launched my career. Zing!
Full disclosure my #1 recommended diaper bag below shocccckingly scores a D on Fakespot (which ain’t good).
Having owned this bag for seven months and used it both for work and for out and about with the boys, I can say that it’s really great and lives up to the reviews, fake or not!
If you can find a local retailer try to bring your toddler diaper bag shopping with you and stuff it with the current contents of your purse or diaper bag so you can see how functional it is, and how it sits with all that weight. And then try to hold your toddler.
Walk around the store with it and your toddler for as long as possible (without flagging security!) and get to know it.
You have now had a glimpse of life with a toddler and a newborn.
For me - anything that hung on one shoulder was completely impractical because someone was always wanting to be held.
And if I had to wear the baby, and walk around without the stroller, then I was also having to carry the weight of the diaper bag.
Let's Talk About Crossbody Diaper Bags
I love a crossbody bag for everything in my adult life.
I love walking around with one, shopping, traveling, whatever and the crossbody allows me to carry my necessities and also feel a bit stylish.
But I’m gonna be honest, I did not love the crossbody bag for diaper bag life.
When I had one kid it was possible to have a crossbody diaper bag, but when I upgraded to two kids, there was too much to deal with and I needed a backpack to free my hands for the inevitable bending down, helping potty training, and not having to shift the bag every time my weight or position shifted.
That being said, I know all moms are different so I’m including a few recommended bags below.
The Fun thing about a crossbody bag is that almost any crossbody bag can become a diaper bag with this style. And it’s also a way to put your best minimalist mom hat on.
Here’s a great review vlog from Megan Kingsford.
(It’s not super cheap but also not crazy expensive)
For a much cheaper version this is a cute alternative for an every day bag as well.
Best Bargain Amazon Diaper Bag
People talk about the skip hop duo diaper bag a lot (and I had that for a short time) but of all the diaper bags I’ve owned, this one from Ruvalino priced at under $40 is the best.
I also read through several comments from other happy moms and it seems their customer service is outstanding, even sending replacement bag to a mom who’s lining started to rip a few weeks after purchase.
Yes, the Fakespot reviews flags go all the way up but trust and believe that I’ve been a happy camper for months now (and if something goes wrong I’m flying back to this post to update it!)
I’ve had this bag since December when we traveled to Florida (so about 8 months from the writing of this post) and it’s both my work bag with a handy spot for my laptop and all my shit, as well as the diaper bag for my boys who are now fully potty trained but who occasionally have accidents, need snacks, and are thirsty at a moment’s notice (i.e. I gotta bring water everywhere).
I love it so much and it looks so much more expensive than it really is.
Best Diaper Bag for Dads
The above Ruvalino diaper bag from Amazon is a major dad bag too but my hubby actually prefers a bag we got a few years ago (that we still use for traveling two times a year across country).
I love this below review about diaper bags for dads and I fulllllly agree that a lot of “dad diaper bags” have this weird overtly macho aesthetic that just feels…ugh. Like can’t a dad just have a nice looking bag that doesn’t make it look like they’re about to go hiking or hunting?
Here’s their link for where to buy the above bags: https://kit.com/dadverb/best-baby-diaper-bags-for-dads
Totally Hands-Free Diaper Bag Fanny Packs
Don’t even roll your eyes about the idea of a fanny pack.
I PROMISE you that you’re gonna wanna look into this as an option for your diaper bag collection (or just, like, life collection).
I first became aware of the fanny pack as a diaper bag at swim lessons with my boys.
The mom who’s son was after mine rolled in with her 2-year-old and her 2-month-old, fully rockin’ the fanny pack.
(Punny below, watchout!)
Ya’ll. She looked BAD ASS, and she was completely hands free. It was a thing of beauty.
A fanny pack design is perfect for a minimalist experience where you’re not going to be away from home (or supplies and snacks) for a long time. one or two diapers, some wipes, and a small change of clothes, as well as a wallet, phone and keys is all you need in this bag.
Here’s the fanny pack she was werking.
I love this fanny pack design because you can carry two bottles - which translates to me as 1 sippy cup and 1 bottle for feeding baby (and I’d just buy a bottle of water or fill up at a friend’s house for a quick play date).
Yes, it’s pretty industrial but it’s practical AF. Here’s a quick video from Janet Reyes. And as Janet says in her video below, the fanny pack is kind of a life changer of a bag situation. I seriously don’t understand why it’s only $22.
Here’s where to buy the Miss Fong Fanny Pack.
Diaper Bag Essentials: What to Pack
If you want to opt for some cute storage for your diaper bags, items like these and these are perfectly fine.
You can also have a cute baby wipes dispenser like this one.
But let’s get real for a second. You’re gonna have to refill that shit every time you run out of wipes.
And when the seasons change you’re gonna need to unpack your cute little cases too and repack them.
It’s not as cute as the above stylish bags but I’m a huge fan of using Gallon Ziploc freezer bag storage instead.
Write your child’s names on each of the bags that contain a spare sets of clothes.
Bonus- you can use the Ziploc bag to carry any wet, dirty, or soiled clothes home for washing, and also not have to wash a reusable carrying case.
While the environmental part of me doesn’t love this tactic — I’d prefer to be able to leave less of a carbon footprint when I can — but the overwhelming need for simplicity wins in this case.
This also makes diaper changes easier, in my opinion, especially when you’re out and about.
Diaper Changing Essentials for Diaper Bag
Look, you may get lucky about 1 out of every 10 times you go to change your baby: that there will be a nice long changing table, that there will be a cleverly placed hook for your diaper bag, that you won’t be freaking out about your baby touching every dirty nasty surface and also that it’s just a clean drop of a poop that isn’t all over every nook and cranny of your baby’s perfectly folded chubby thighs and but.
But the other 9 times it’s gonna be a literal shit show.
Once my 6-month-old had a blow out as we were leaving Costco and THANKFULLY the trashcan was placed right next to the diaper changing station so I could just strip him and throw the whole fucking onesie away.
But there was no hook for the diaper bag, and the changing table was right in the middle of the bathroom where everyone was reaching for paper towels and walking around me and I had to put the diaper bag on the floor.
This is when my little diaper changing hack came in handy - everything is in the ziploc bag.
When you’re wrangling a squirmy, shit covered toddler, on a dirty changing table in the middle of a crowded and busy bathroom the last thing you will have time to do is leisurely look through your diaper bag and pull out the appropriate items.
Instead, shove everything you need for one complete diaper change into one Gallon sized Ziploc bag including a diaper, and a complete change of clothes.
Pull that bag out, along with your changing pad and your wipes (all with one hand - bc you know, squirming little fucker on the table who doesn’t yet understand that it’s not okay to wipe poop all over yourself and everything else within arms reach).
Change baby, throw the wipes back in the bag, throw the outfit away if it’s particularly nasty (this one time it was), get on with your life relatively unscathed (and perhaps, feel like a badass).
What Do You Need In That Diaper Bag:
If you’re rolling deep with a crew of two or more babies and toddlers here’s what you’re gonna need in the diaper bag:
Changing pad (most come with one but here’s a cute one that’s compact and super functional if you didn’t get a diaper bag with a changing pad already included)
Hand sanitizer and/or antibacterial wipes (to wipe down counters, tables, seats, and changing tables)
Bottles for baby (at least two more if you’re gone for longer)
Snacks! - Pouches, Goldfish, Cheerios whatever your kiddo likes.
Two or more gallon Ziplock bags with changes of clothes for each child. (Underwear for potty training toddler, diapers for the baby). Include an extra baggie for soiled clothes. )
Bibs - these are great because you can fold them into a spare pocket and also wipe them down with wipes at the table when you’re done.
Burp cloths for baby (I love these as they’re super absorbent and fold up super small)
Blanket for baby
Sunscreen for toddler and baby older than 6 months
Hats (baby/toddler doesn’t wear a hat? Read this post about how to get your baby to wear a hat)
Small blanket (can be used as a spare burp cloth or to cover baby if it gets cold)
Games/Dollar Store books for the toddler and baby to play with at a restaurant or table. These suction cup toys are awesome and my 3 and almost 5 year old still play with them occasional.
Crayons for the Toddler
Coloring books, or subscription to Hidden Pictures for the toddler
Chapstick and/or makeup bag
A spare shirt for you (in case of a lot of spit up or a blow out all over your shirt).
Trello Diaper Bag Checklist (link below)
Lucky you momma, I’m including a Trello diaper bag checklist for you for those days when you’re too tired to think about it and just want someone to tell you what to do. Or for before those days begin so you’re ready af for whatever your toddler and newborn baby will throw at you.
Use My Free Trello Diaper Bag Checklist
Trello is a digital post-it note/bulletin board/organizational project management system that is consistently rated as a top ap for parents, small businesses, and large corporations alike.
Trello is my ultimate mom hack tool too and I legit use it for everything from planning birthday parties, to meal planning, to organizing my summer activities for my kids, to making checklists for earthquake supplies (yep. I’m serious).
Here’s a quick video on how to use Trello: