Inside: Are you considering going the minimalist diaper bag route? We’ve got everything you need to know to feel good about packing less – a list of absolute diaper bag essentials, how to create a diaper bag restock habit that sticks, and how to go even further and ditch the diaper bag altogether.
Carting babies and all their things around can get old real quick.
I’ve been there, done that, and heavy diaper bags with all.the.things are no longer my jam.
As a mom of four, I’ve tried a lot of packing methods over the years.
I’ve done the bursting-at-the-seams diaper bag where I pack everything — including the kitchen sink.
Ugh…carrying a bag that heavy in and out of stores, doctor’s offices, and to and from the park.
I’ve tried packing the bare minimum — just a diaper or two and some wipes. That, inevitably, ended in disaster. Almost every time.
Spit-up, formula dribbles, leaky diapers…or every mom’s worst nightmare…a blowout.
Trust me. I’ve been there.
You don’t want to experience a blowout in public and not have the necessary supplies to deal with the mess. I get that fear.
Not an experience I’d like to repeat — except I have. On more than one occasion.
Learn from my mistakes: it’s important to pack wisely.
So, if you shouldn’t pack all.the.things and you shouldn’t skimp on supplies…
You’re probably wondering…what SHOULD you pack?
I’ll let you in on a secret. There is a balance.
It’s what we’re referring to today as a “minimalist diaper bag”.
But what does “minimalist” actually mean in this context? It means you have what you actually need – and no more.
We’ve got a guide to get you started.
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What to Pack in a Minimalist Diaper Bag – Just 6 Essentials
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So, if you’re wondering about the specifics, here they are. The list is super short!
These are a given. The thing is, you don’t need a ton. For shorter errands, you can likely get by with 2-3 diapers. If you’re going to be out longer, adjust that number accordingly.
You can get a travel case for wipes at most stores that sell baby supplies. Or Amazon, of course. It’s important to have wipes, but you don’t need a ton. You can also just put some in a small zippered bag or use the individual refill packs that are sold in larger boxes.
3. Extra Outfit (with Gallon-Sized Ziploc Bag)
Trust me. Babies are unpredictable.
You don’t ever want to be without an extra outfit for your little one.
Pro Tip — Store the extra outfit in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Then if you need to change your baby’s outfit, you can put the dirty clothes into the ziploc bag and seal it up to take home and wash! The ziploc seals away odors from the rest of your diaper bag, and keeps the ick factor in the bag.
4. Diaper Rash Cream
You can probably live without this, but if you have a baby who is prone to diaper rashes, it’s always nice to have this handy.
You can get these in a travel size if you want to save space.
5. Muslin Blanket
These are the perfect multitasking tool. They not only work as a blanket to swaddle your baby or cover them up, but they also work as a car seat canopy, burp cloth, changing pad, and nursing cover.
You can even pack two if you’d like since they take up almost no room!
6. Extra Pacifier
If your baby takes one, you know this is an essential.
And if you think you’re safe because baby has one in her mouth on the way out the door, these get lost in cars and strollers and car seats more often than you think.
If you’re considering nixing this one, make sure your baby has a clip on the paci that is attached to her outfit. This eliminates most of the risk of losing it. (THESE ones double as a teether.)
What to Add if You’re Formula Feeding
When you’re nursing, you don’t typically need to think about bringing feeding supplies along.
Things change if you’re formula feeding though.
Here are the extra supplies you may need if you’re not breastfeeding.
1. Formula Dispenser or Packets
A dispenser is the least expensive option. You can usually get one for under $10 and you can store enough formula for three bottles.
Pre-measured packets work nicely too.
2. Water-Filled Bottle
Pack at least one bottle filled with distilled or boiled water in your bag. That makes it easy to mix up a bottle with the pre-measured formula you brought when it’s time for baby to eat.
If you know you’ll be gone for a long time and won’t have access to a sink, it’s okay to bring an extra bottle or two with you.
Baby’s Older Than 6 Months? You’ll Need These Three Things
If you’re past the newborn stage and your baby is eating solids, staying awake for longer periods of time, and likes to play — here are a few more things you’ll want to consider adding to your bag.
1. Simple Snack
You’re not going to want anything messy, but a quick snack is always good to have on hand for times your baby gets hungry in between bottles.
Puffs and dry cereal — like Cheerios — are my top recommendation, but you can also pack cheese cubes or an applesauce or yogurt pouch for something a little more nutritious.
Just be prepared to help feed them if you don’t want the contents of the pouch everywhere.
2. Leak-Proof Sippy Cup
Fill a sippy cup with water – make sure it’s truly leak-proof!
It’s so frustrating when your diaper bag gets soaked. Yuck.
3. Small Toy
If you’re going to be out an hour or more, it’s a great idea to have a small rattle or teether to keep your little one entertained.
What’s the Best Minimalist Diaper Bag? Here Are Two Recommendations
Looking for the ideal diaper bag for taking along less? Here are two great options:
With over 16k positive reviews, this backpack diaper bag on Amazon is a winner for minimalist moms.
It’s easy to clean, has enough pockets to keep you organized, gives you a hands-free option, and its stylish design makes it not look like a diaper bag.
Baby lifestyle brand, Freshly Picked, has designed a diaper bag that can be worn three ways — as a handbag, crossbody bag, or a backpack.
And doesn’t look like a diaper bag at all. This means you could potentially get many years out of it, even after your little one is out of diapers (and with that price, you’ll probably want to).
Is a Diaper Bag Even Necessary? Go Extreme Minimalist, and Ditch the Diaper Bag Altogether
After reading all of this, you might be wondering if a diaper bag is necessary at all? Good question – let’s discuss.
For short trips, ditching the diaper bag has plenty of merits. It’s great to not lug a heavy bag everywhere you go.
If you’d like to give this a shot, try out a travel changing pad. These come with diaper and wipe storage, a waterproof surface for changing your little one, a zipper pocket for your keys/wallet/phone, and a hook to hang on the stroller.
They’re incredibly handy when you need a few supplies, but not the entire diaper bag.
So in short, yes, you can absolutely ditch the diaper bag altogether and keep a changing pad or zippered pouch with the few diaper bag essentials listed above.
The only reason to keep an actual diaper bag would be if you were switching caregivers on a regular basis. It’s much easier to hand off an entire diaper bag for a nanny or parent to carry than a small pouch.
Plus those other caregivers might not be thrilled about going minimalist with what they consider to be diaper bag essentials. Minimalism makes some people nervous, especially those who like to be over-prepared for any potential baby scenario when away from home.
Make Restocking the Diaper Bag After Each Outing a Habit: Here’s How
If you’re going to go with the minimalist diaper bag approach, you’ve got to make it a habit to restock your diaper bag every time you come home.
If you don’t, the downside of carrying minimal supplies is that you run out of necessities more quickly and risk being without that extra outfit at the worst possible moment (been there – you don’t want to be there, trust me).
Here are our best tips for establishing a diaper bag restock habit.
1. Have a designated spot for your diaper bag to “live” when not in use.
This can be a hook, a bench, or a spot on your kitchen counter. Baby’s room might even be more ideal because often all the supplies you need are in that room.
Every time you get home, make sure you place it in that same spot and restock right away if possible.
This is especially ideal if you have soiled clothing or diapers to deal with. Then you’re going to need to soak any soiled clothing and be sure to put a fresh outfit and ziploc back in the bag.
But we know that’s not always realistic (because crying baby, hungry baby, screaming baaaaby) soooo…
2. Connect your diaper bag restock habit to an already existing habit.
Maybe before you go to bed every night, you clean the kitchen. If that’s an established habit, make restocking the diaper bag the first thing you do after cleaning the kitchen.
Or maybe you rock baby’s naptime. As soon as you put baby to sleep, do a diaper bag check to see if it needs a little love.
Whatever you decide, I recommend making it a daily habit, even if you don’t go out every day. It’s much more likely that you’ll always have a restocked diaper bag that way.
3. Consider keeping a diaper bag checklist in or on the diaper bag.
You can type up a quick list and laminate it.
Then stick it inside one of the diaper bag pockets or put it on a hook outside the bag, making easy to remember the necessities (or jogging your brain to restock it before running out the door if you haven’t already done so).
Nervous to Go Minimalist with Your Diaper Bag? Just Try It.
Remember, minimalism isn’t only about having fewer things. It’s about having what you need and getting rid of the rest.
More stuff almost always equals more cleaning/maintenance/work. The choice is up to you.
But you’ve got nothing to lose by giving this a shot.
If you find that you would prefer a more fully stocked diaper bag, you can always go back to doing it that way.
Give it a chance – I think you might just love it.
I’d love to know what your minimalist diaper bag necessities are! Share below.
Amy is a freelance writer and blogger who homeschools her tribe of tiny humans while pursuing her lifelong dream of becoming a published author. She is fueled by coffee and the desire to do ALL. THE. THINGS. She has the attention span of a squirrel, though somehow manages to make it through each day with everyone fed and happy (well, mostly happy! Ha!) while striving to make every tomorrow better than the last. You can hear more of what she has to say over at Real Talk with Amy, where she blogs about all things motherhood.