Packing your very first diaper bag can feel overwhelming, and new parents often feel like they need to travel with everything baby owns. Parents often to come to our Cloth 101 classes asking one simple question: What’s in YOUR diaper bag?
The simple answer to that is mostly a few years worth of snack crumbs, various Lego man body parts, and a few dozen Hurraw! Lip balms, since apparently losing them is my superpower.
Oh, and I also pack some really cool cloth diaper stuff too.
In this article, we’ll give you a real-life breakdown of what you really need to get started with cloth diapers and what’s in our diaper bag.
For the purposes of this article, we will assume that you are packing your diaper bag to leave for a six-hour period with baby. In other words, long enough for a day of running errands or maybe a day trip to Grandma’s.
How many cloth diapers you will need will mostly depend on the style of diaper you choose. In general, planning for one diaper change per hour you are gone is a great baseline.
All In Ones and Pockets: If AIOs or Pockets are your chosen diaper style, your packing just got easier! Plan for one All In One or Pocket diaper for each hour you are gone and your cloth diaper packing is complete.
#protip If you intend for baby to nap at any point while you are gone, add two extra boosters to your cloth diaper list or one nighttime diaper (if this differs from your regular daytime choice).
Covers and Prefolds: If you use covers and prefolds, you still need to plan for one prefold per hour, but you can plan to use one cover every other change. Six prefolds and three covers is a good baseline for a six-hour period.
We also recommend that you choose to pack one extra Snappi (if you use these in your regular routine) in your diaper bag and don’t forget your naptime option. A booster or a thicker prefold is a good naptime choice that won’t take up any extra packing space in your bag.
When using fitteds and covers, plan for one fitted for each hour and one cover for every four hours you are gone. While you might not need to change your wool cover that often, it’s nice to have an extra if you need some drying time.
Hybrids: If you are using a Hybrid system, pack like you would for prefolds and covers. You’ll need one soaker pad for each hour you are gone and one cover for every other hour. Six soaker pads and three covers is a good baseline for a six-hour period.
Wet bags are incredibly multi-functional and allow for easy transport of so many messes. Plan for one medium wet bag for each six-hour period.
That being said, I never leave our house with less than one medium wet bag and one small wet bag. Our big kids get messy too, and it always seems that there is a glitter/mud/paint/ridiculous amount of ketchup mess that needs to be contained.
#protip If the messy is REALLY bad, turn your empty wet bag inside out. Place your hand inside, pick up unnamed gross object with your wet bag/hand and then turn it rightside out. Hands clean, mess contained.
Cloth Wipes & Wipe Spray
We can never have enough cloth wipes. We can never travel with enough cloth wipes. Pack extra.
Ok, that’s not very helpful, but those are my exact thoughts when it comes to cloth wipes.
Use two wipes per diaper change as a baseline for cloth wipes. Twelve is a great number to start with. I add no less than two wipes per older child as well because we use cloth wipes for everything. If you are strictly packing for baby, a dozen is a great number for a six-hour period.
There are two options in terms of cloth wipe spray: you can pre-wet your wipes or you can carry a spray bottle. If you choose to pre-wet your wipes, you will also need a wipe pouch to contain them. #protip I prefer to carry a spray bottle because it lets me control how moist my wipes are. It also lets me reuse wipes that don’t need to be sprayed. (They are great for runny noses!)
We never leave home without something for rashes. Developing a rash while out and about and having no access to cloth diaper safe rash cream is a day I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
For my diaper bag, I prefer to use a stick version like the GroVia Magic Stick or the CJ’s BUTTer Quick Stick. These options will allow you to apply product to bottoms without getting your hands dirty and thus, possibly being able to skip the trip to a public restroom altogether. That, and they are incredible for diaper rash.
#protip Both of these products are awesome for dry skin as well. We carry an extra in our bag for our big kids on cold or windy days to apply to cheeks, noses and the backs of little hands. Don’t forget! Clearly marking your sticks ‘bottom’ and ‘top’ will prevent them from getting mixed up…
Let’s do a quick recap.
A baseline for a six-hour trip away from home included: six cloth diapers (or six hours worth of cloth diaper changes), one bonus naptime diapering option, at least one medium wet bag (and possibly a small one for extra messes), a dozen cloth wipes and a small bottle of spray (or choose pre-wet wipes contained in a wipe pouch), and your favorite cloth diaper safe rash cream or stick.
Please remember, this is just a baseline. Older babies and toddlers may not go through this many diaper changes and newborn parents may prefer to pack a few extra changes. There will be many changes that only require one wipe and one every now and then that require three. This list is just an average for planning purposes and can be catered very easily to the needs of your family.
We always travel with about 24 cloth wipes because everything in my life is sticky. Always. Do what works for you.
Bonus Items We Love
The above list contains our must-haves. As in, we are not officially ready to leave the house for six hours if we haven’t grabbed all of the above.
However, when the planets and stars align, and I can spend more than three frantic minutes packing the diaper bag before someone loses a shoe or starts undressing, here are some great bonus items I love to carry:
BALM! Baby Sanitize Those Hands: It’s forever toddler flu season or allergy season or potty learning season or decide you are going to touch every surface of everything season. Natural hand sanitizer is a must in our diaper bag.
Elevated Natural Hand Sanitizer is our on-the-go go to. Perfect for diaper changes, toddler exploring and everyday motherhood. Sanitize Those Hands is a 2.7oz travel size and fits perfectly everywhere.
HIE Changing Pod: It’s not always convenient to take our entire diaper bag everywhere we go. In fact, more often than not, our diaper bag remains in the car while we are running errands and our HIE Changing Pod comes with us wherever we go.
The HIE Changing Pod has a foldable, waterproof changing mat and zippered main compartment that holds the ideal number of diapers. The easy-access pocket fits most standard wipes containers, and it’s perfect for on-the-go diaper changes!
If you were the most awesome mini version of your favorite diaper bag, but could fit under your arm and convince people you were a chic clutch… you would be a HIE Changing Pod. Everyone needs one.
Planet Wise Reusable Snack Bags: These are a must. Planet Wise Snack Bags are reusable with zipper or hook and loop closure and are super cute. They can take a beating (we have left more than one outside through the winter) and fit an entire sandwich.
Use these guys for snacks, pacifiers, extra hair ties, makeup, extra baby socks… They are so handy and clean up easily. We normally have at least four in our diaper bag at all times.
GroVia Bioliners: GroVia Bioliners are about half the thickness of a dryer sheet and similar in size. When laid on top of your diaper, (closest to baby’s skin), liquids go through to your diaper’s absorbent material and solids stay on top. You can remove solids quickly and easily without lugging your diaper sprayer around everywhere you go.
Bioliners are easy to use and easy to pack. They take up virtually zero space and will save you a lot of spraying when you get home.
Mom hack: The cupholder in the door of my truck fits 24 bioliners + an extra travel size Punkin Butt wipe spray + three cloth wipes + a GroVia Itty Bitty Magic Stick perfectly. For those times when you definitely remembered to repack the diaper bag… or not.
Customizing your diaper bag for your family is important and this is a great place to start. The reality is that once you begin your cloth diapering journey, you’re more likely to worry about making sure to pack the exact same snacks (because fighting) than you are about which specific diaper you’d like to bring.
Packing your cloth diapers will become second nature in no time. Until then, for more information about the cloth diaper styles mentioned in this blog, visit us online or follow us on Facebook and Instagram. For an even more in-depth look at the components of a cloth diaper, how much it costs to cloth diaper and some of our favorite cloth diapers of the year, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for all our latest blogs, events and tips!