How to Pack a Diaper Bag: A Guide for New Parents

Just as important as ensuring that you have everything you need in a diaper bag is the method you use to pack it. While you may be tempted to throw everything into it willy-nilly, especially if you’re in a time crunch and need to get out the door in a hurry, this isn’t the best idea. 

Look at it this way: you need to be able to remove the items that you need from the bag exactly when you want them, without having to rummage around or empty the bag in public, looking for that last pack of diaper wipes that’s lingering at the bottom.

Instead, it’s best to develop an organized method that keeps everything in its place and renders you ready to take on whatever your little one throws at you! Still feeling lost? No worries, we have you covered! 

Choosing a Useful Diaper Bag 

Before you begin organizing your diaper bag, it helps if you have one designed to be useful. A good diaper bag has several built-in pockets and sections, allowing you to place things in the bag and access them as needed without emptying out everything.

In addition, there should be a comfortable strap (some are padded, so it’s a good idea to look for one with this option) that slings on either cross-body style or over your shoulder. You may be able to hang things from the strap as well, such as a small bottle of hand sanitizer in a clip-on holster. This opens up a bit of space within the bag for other things. If you’re breastfeeding, remember to switch up the sides you carry your straps on, as strap pressure can contribute to mastitis

Finally, when choosing a diaper bag, make sure to pick one large enough to hold everything, yet not so big that it’s overwhelming. If the bag is too big, you may be tempted to fill it, leaving you with one that’s too heavy to tote around comfortably. That defeats the entire purpose of a diaper bag!

The Main Portion of the Bag

Whether you choose a diaper bag that has a zippered top or one with a flap that fastens with a snap, it will have a large interior section that’s designed to hold more oversized items. This is where the diapers, wipes container, and changing pad will go. They are some of the most important things that you’ll have with you, so it makes sense that you’ll put them where you’re able to access them in seconds. Because as you know, with a baby, every second counts!

Other things that can go here include a few clothing changes, bottles in a special container, or even a pouch that holds your breast pump and related supplies. Either fit them in around the diapers or other items or set up some adjustable sections to keep everything in place.

Adjustable Sections 

Some diaper bags come with several adjustable interior section dividers that Velcro into place. This allows you to create dedicated areas for everything, keeping you even more organized. However, if the bag doesn’t have these dividers, you can always buy a special bag organizer, insert it into the diaper bag, or create some of your own dividers.

Using Bags to Hold Items 

While you may be tempted to use nylon pouches to hold things and keep the main section of your diaper bag organized. If so, you’ll have to remove the pouch, open it, and then put it back in. If everything is in a separate pouch, you may have to do this several times just to complete a simple diaper change.

One recommended solution is to use baggies and pouches only for wet or dirty items or for things like bottles that need to stay cool. This keeps them separated without complicating the process.

Interior Pockets: Front and Back

In addition to a large, open section on the inside, diaper bags also come with built-in interior pockets. There are two main types of pockets that you’ll see, some that zip closed and some that are simple slip pockets with no closure. Both serve important purposes and hold different types of items, aiding your organizational system.

Zippered Pockets 

Zippered pockets are designed to hold things securely. Unlike slip pockets, these things won’t move around when the bag is jostled. They also are a bit tougher to remove items from (relatively speaking). This means that it’s best not to place things you might need in a hurry inside of these pockets.

What should you arrange in a zip pocket? Things like snacks, small toys, extra binkies (if your baby likes them), and even random items like bottle nipples and extra nylon pouches can be stored within them. These pockets can also hold crucial things like your cell phone, should you not want to leave it in an exterior pocket. (More on those later!)

Slip Pockets 

Slip pockets, on the other hand, are exactly what they sound like. They are pockets that allow you to slip things in and out easily because they don’t have any fasteners. You might find diaper bags that have specialty slip pockets that hold things like bottles, while other pockets are more general in size and shape, allowing you to arrange items how you like.

When you’re stocking your slip pockets, make sure to put hand sanitizer, extra packs of wipes, diaper cream, and even your child’s favorite toy within them. You might find pockets that are big enough to hold a small hat, some gentle sunscreen, and even a hair bow on an elastic or two. If you think that you’ll need it in a hurry and often, then put it in a slip pocket for quick, easy access!

Exterior Pockets: Front and Back 

Many diaper bags also have exterior pockets that fasten shut. These pockets can hold things that you want to have access to without having to open the top of your diaper bag. They can also double as a purse of sorts, preventing you from needing to carry a second bag around. This is handy because you already have enough to juggle with your baby and your diaper bag.

Front Pockets 

The front pockets of a diaper bag are usually easy to access. They’re great for keeping hand sanitizer, tissues, an extra pack of wipes, and more in them. Anything that you think you may need in a hurry and don’t want to open the whole bag for (meaning that you get to them while moving through a store or park) should be stored in them. They’re designed for your convenience.

Back Pockets 

Since the back pockets are much more secure than the front ones, they are an excellent place to keep crucial things like your wallet, cell phone, keys, and even any medications that you need to have on hand (for example, an EpiPen). Other people won’t be able to get to them without your knowledge, so rest assured that everything that you would put in your purse is kept safely by your side.

Add-On Accessories 

On top of all of the pockets built into diaper bags, there are also a number of add-on accessories. For example, you might find a single bottle caddy that attaches to the bag’s exterior strap (or even a stroller), making it easy to satisfy a hungry baby. Also, a bottle cooler can hold more than one bottle and insulate your bottles so they don’t spoil. These are just a few examples. With so many add-on accessories available, you’ll be able to keep your diaper bag well organized without any issues.

Pack Your Bag for Success 

Prepping your diaper bag can be a game-changer! Diaper bags are designed to hold many items and keep them separate from each other, allowing you to set up the bag as you please while keeping everything within reach and in its place. The interior pockets, some that zip closed, should hold smaller items, while the center of the bag holds larger ones.

Make good use of the exterior pockets, placing the things that you really need in them. The more you use those wisely, the better off you’ll be since you’ll be able to find that crucial diaper or binky when your little one needs them most. In the end, your diaper bag is your lifeline for almost every “on-the-go” situation, so you want it to be in tip-top, organized shape!



Mastitis | La Leche League

The 8 Best Purse Organizers of 2021 | The Spruce

Pumping and Storing Breast Milk | OASH

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