What should you pack in a baby changing bag?

Packing a baby changing bag

How to organise a changing bag: Hints and tips

You will probably find it helpful to have a separate changing bag with your baby’s things for at least the first two years.

Gone are the days of just grabbing your keys and phone and heading out the door. At least for a while anyway!

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Leaving the house with your baby, even for a short trip, can be pretty overwhelming. It feels like you have to take everything with you except the kitchen sink.

Wherever your baby goes, the baby changing bag goes too!

What you need to put in the bag depends on your child’s age, where you are going and how long you will be. So bear this in mind before you leave the house.

Here are the things to keep in your baby bag for the first 4 – 6 months. And yes, someone this small does require this much stuff!

1. Nappy changing supplies

It is inevitable you will need to change your baby’s nappy at least once if you go out for a few hours. So if there’s one thing not to forget, it’s a supply of nappies and baby wipes!

You will need:

  • 3 – 4 disposable nappies, or
  • Reusable cloth nappies and nappy liners. If you use reusable nappies at home, you may find it easier to use eco-friendly disposables when you are out
  • A packet of baby wipes (one of your most indispensable items for cleaning up just about anything)
  • Nappy rash cream
  • Nappy sacks for dirty nappies and baby wipes. You may not always have access to a bin or safe nappy disposal, and you will have to take the dirty nappy home with you
  • A thin, washable/wipe-clean, foldable changing mat. This is especially important if you get caught out with no baby change facilities and you have to lay your baby on the floor. With a changing mat you can change your baby in the boot of the car or practically anywhere.

2. Spare clothes

It is important to keep spare changes of clothes in your baby bag in case your baby gets messy after a feed. Or dare we say it, there is a random poo explosion.

Choose small, foldable items that don’t take up much room and are easy to get on and off. Depending on where you are you may not be blessed with a nice comfortable space in which to change your baby. You don’t want to make things more awkward than necessary.

They don’t have to be ‘nice’ clothes, they can be practical, ’emergency’ clothes.

Essential items to pack include:

  • 2 envelope-neck style vests with poppers at the crotch
  • 2 sleepsuits with poppers down the front
  • Spare cardigan
  • Sun hat for sunny days

This list will need to be adjusted to include ‘day’ clothes as your baby gets older.

3. Feeding equipment

What you pack for feeding your baby depends on whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Also how long you are going to be out for.

Adjust the following list according to your preference:

  • Nursing cover and breast pads for leaks
  • Bottles of expressed breast milk or pre-made bottles of formula in a thermabag/cool bag with an ice pack
  • Small cartons of ready-to-feed formula. These are more expensive but very easy and convenient for occasional use
  • Sterilised bottles
  • Travel bottle warmer for heating up bottles of chilled breast milk or formula milk, if your baby will only drink warm milk
  • Vacuum flask filled with hot water and pre-measured formula milk powder in a compartment milk powder dispenser. For making up feeds fresh on the go
  • In hot weather, a bottle of cooled boiled tap water for a formula-fed baby less than six months old
  • 2 dribble bibs or milk feeding bibs
  • 2 muslin cloths to protect clothes from milk spills during feeding and burping. Large muslin cloths double up as nursing covers

4. Miscellaneous items

Here are some additional items that will come in useful:

  • Small bottle of antibacterial hand sanitiser to use after nappy changes. You may not always have access to soap and water
  • Plastic bag or wet bag to store soiled clothes and nappies until you get home
  • Small pack of soft tissues for wiping a runny nose and a multitude of other things
  • A high factor sunscreen – remember to keep your baby out of direct sunlight
  • Infacol, Calpol, teething gel and other medicinal supplies you use
  • Two dummies in storage pots if your baby takes a dummy (some dummies come with caps to keep them clean)
  • Soft comforting toy
  • Teething toys or rings
  • A drink and a snack for you, and any other bits and pieces you might need for yourself
  • Travel-sized pack of disinfectant wipes for wiping down high chair trays and other surfaces

Things for older babies

When your baby is at the weaning stage (4 – 6 months), you may alter the contents of your changing bag to include:

  • Finger food snacks that don’t need refrigeration such as mini breadsticks, rice cakes, rusks and soft fruit bars, in addition to your baby’s usual milk
  • Jars or vegetable/fruit pouches of baby food with a spoon
  • Homemade pots of puree and other finger foods that require refrigeration, in a cool bag
  • Wipe-clean bib with crumb catcher, or waterproof long-sleeved coverall bib
  • Toys, rattles and board books
  • Simple spare clothes (remember these are ’emergency’ clothes) such as T-shirts and leggings/jersey trousers
  • Beaker/sippy cup of cooled boiled tap water

Organising your baby bag

Now that you have everything you need to put in your baby bag, don’t just throw it in any old how. You’ll never find things and you will have to turf everything out when you need them.

Organisation is key!

A changing bag with roomy compartments and lots of pockets will keep things organised. It will help you find things when you need them, and make it easier to restock when you get home.

Keep related items together in one compartment, i.e. clothes in one compartment, nappy changing supplies in another etc.

Tips for an organised baby bag

Don’t forget to replace spare clothes and nappies in your bag with larger sizes as your child grows.

Aim to go through the bag once a month and make changes as needed. It is not helpful to pull out a 3 months-sized vest if your baby is 6 months old!

If you use something in the bag, such as a change of clothes, nappies or muslin cloth, restock as soon as you get a moment, or you may forget later! Try to get into the habit of restocking your baby bag as soon as you can after you get home.

Save space with travel-sized baby wipes, nappy rash cream, tissues and hand sanitiser.

Have two baby changing bags. Keep a small one with a few basic items for quick trips, and a larger one with more stuff for longer trips out. You might want to also keep a bag in the boot of the car.

Your changing bag might become your only bag for a while, to save you having to carry a separate bag for your own things. You can have a dedicated compartment for your purse, phone, keys, sunglasses etc.

There will be some things you can’t leave in your bag and you will have to pack fresh each time. For example sterilised bottles or bottles of formula you have made in advance.

Leave a small written list in a side pocket of your bag that you can refer to before you go out. This is also useful for other people who may use the bag, so they know what extras need to go in.

Baby changing bag styles

So what style of baby changing bag should you go for? It’s really a matter of personal choice and budget, and some bags can have quite a hefty price tag. Especially if it ‘goes with’ the pushchair you have bought.

In general the two main styles of changing bag include backpack style, which leaves your hands free to carry your baby, and shoulder bag style that you can wear or hook over the pushchair handles.

You may find an ordinary backpack you already have at home doubles up perfectly fine as a changing bag. And you can use a bag organiser insert to keep things separate.

You may wish to choose something stylish (but practical), as it will become your ‘go-to’ bag for quite some time. Take into account if your partner will be using the bag as well; a style that suits both sexes may be preferable!

You don’t want a bag that’s too small to hold everything, or one that’s too big so you have to rummage frantically in its depths to find things.

Many changing bags come with a changing mat included in its own perfectly-sized compartment.

Packing your baby changing bag

The list of things to put in your changing bag could go on and on, and if you want to pack extra things it’s up to you. The above list covers everything important you could need.

It is not necessary to blow your budget on an expensive, designer, changing bag. In theory you could use any bag as a changing bag and it doesn’t even have to look like a bag full of nappies.

Whatever you choose, your bag should be spacious, easy to carry, and have lots of compartments. It must be made of durable material (it will get a lot of punishment), and should be washable/easy to clean. Wipe-clean linings are a godsend if there are spillages.

The trick is to make sure you have enough stuff that’s well organised, but you’re not carting around a suitcase!

Save yourself the worry that you might forget something every time you go out with your baby. It needn’t be a chore to keep a changing bag packed with all your essentials at all times.

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What to pack in your baby changing bag