What do I put in my nappy bag??

Every parent learns – one way or another! – that no matter which style and size of bag you decide to use, a properly packed and well equipped nappy bag can be your greatest tool when out and about with a baby or toddler.

What you keep in your bag will depend a great deal on how old your child is, the amount of time that you are planning to spend out, and your destination. There will always be some things that it is wise to keep with you, but over time you will be able to refine and minimise the things that you need.

The basics to start with…

Nappy change necessities

Nappies – how many nappies you pack depends on the age and stage of your child: we suggest you pack as many as you think you’ll need then add 4 more!
As a general guide, in the early days with a baby we recommend one nappy per hour plus the extras to deal with emergency circumstances (poosplosions will hopefully be rare, however!).

Baby wipes – if you don’t want to buy travel wipes, just transfer some of your bamboo biodegradable wipes from home into a zip-lock bag. They’ll stay fresh and ready to use.

Hand sanitiser – a travel size bottle of hand san needs a permanent place in all handbags, manbags and nappy bags. You just never know when you’ll need some!

Nappy disposal bags – good for holding anything mucky, not just nappies. Dedicated nappy disposal bags can be used, you can reuse bread or supermarket bags, or get some biodegradable bags to go with our biodegradable nappies! Just make sure that they are either stored in a box or zip lock bag, or tie a loose knot in any loose bags you’re reusing, so that they are safe around curious littlies.

Tissues/small cloth – keep a small travel pack of tissues or a couple of cloth wipes in a zip-lock bag to use on anything that baby wipes aren’t suitable for.

Nappy rash cream – if you use Tinkle biodegradable bamboo nappies, you probably won’t need any of this!
If you do decide to include it, carry a little travel tube or decant some of your cream from home into a small, well-sealed pot.

Portable change mat – many nappy bags come with one included. If not, or if the one that’s included is too small, there are plenty of other options available. Something lightweight and easily stored and cleaned is best. And remember that a cloth nappy or muslin will do as a change mat in a pinch, and even disposable change mats can be reused a number of times before needing to be thrown out.

Clothing comforts

Spare set of clothes – pack at least one full change of clothing (or maybe two or three plus extra pants if you’re toilet training!)

Extra warm layers – one or two extra merino layers are light and compact to carry, but invaluable if the weather turns unexpectedly cold.

Hat – a beanie for cold weather and a sunhat for warm

Feeding fundamentals

Muslin cloth – these can be used for so many things, but are especially good for catching spills after feeding and burping baby, or giving privacy in the early days of breastfeeding when everything is new and you’re both still learning how it works.

Bottles & formula – if you’re bottle feeding make sure you have formula, sterilised bottles and bottled water. Insulated bottles can be a useful addition if you won’t be able to heat up the baby bottle while you’re out.

Food & utensils – once your child is eating solids, keep a small container of baby food plus a spoon in your bag. Other non-perishable snacks are also vital when travelling with toddlers and pre-schoolers (in fact, even though we’ve long since lost the nappy bag, hungry teenagers mean we still don’t leave home without snacks!)

Bib – one or two bibs are vital if you want to have a chance of keeping your child’s clothes clean.

Extra basics for babies

First aid supplies – infant sunscreen, tweezers, sticking plasters, ‘ouch cream’ (arnica cream is great for sorting out bumps and bruises with toddlers – though rash relief cream works at a pinch if the bump is just needing some placebo treatment!)

Toys – a small toy or a teething ring can help to keep a little one occupied if they need a little extra entertainment when there are delays.

Wrap – use as an extra support for carrying baby, shade cloth or blanket for lying on.

Dummy – if you use these, having a spare in the nappy bag means you’ll be sure to have one to hand when one goes missing (as they tend to do occasionally).

Extra provisions for parents

Breast pads – for breastfeeding mamas, it’s always good to pack a couple of spare reusable or disposable breast pads in case of leaks, especially in the first few months until your milk supply evens out.

Water and snacks – make sure that you’re looking after yourself as well as baby, as parenting is thirsty, energetic work!

Clothes – maybe not a full change, but a spare singlet or top will always come in handy if you have a spilly baby, or a child prone to wanting big hugs while covered in goop.

Sunscreen and hat – it’s so important, especially if you’re in NZ, to stay sun smart.

Your belongings – if you’re not carrying a separate bag for yourself, make sure you have a space for your keys, phone, wallet/cards, sunglasses, pads, lip balm, gum, or any other things that you may need while you’re out.

A few last thoughts

Think about what kind of bag suits your needs: some parents like a handbag or satchel style, others prefer a backpack style. It is a good idea to get something that is waterproof, and to also future proof it a little – for example, a nappy bag covered in baby prints which takes up the whole bottom of the buggy might be great while the baby is still little, but not so good once you’re running around after a toddler or preschooler.

When baby is young, you will probably pack a lot more “just in case” items, but as they get older you will be able to reduce some things while increasing others, until you get the balance right for your family.

The most essential thing for every nappy bag to have, no matter the style, is to have lots of space and pockets so you can fit everything in while still keeping everything organised and easily accessible. Just remember that no matter what you choose, nappy bags do not have to be expensive (despite what many baby gear shops might try to tell you!).

If you can make a habit of re-stocking your nappy bag when you get home, then it will be ready to go the next time you go out so you can make the most of your time out and about with your child.

At the start of each season, review the sets of clothing that you have stored in your nappy bag and swap out any that are too small or not suitable for the season.


We love to look for sustainably-sourced and eco-friendly products as much wherever possible (such as Tinkle ECO nappies and Tinkle biodegradable bamboo wipes), to reduce the amount of non-biodegradable waste going into landfill.

Multi-purpose items are another great way to be more sustainable, save space and reduce weight – and they can also make it easier to find what you need in a hurry or when you only have one hand free. Bonus!

What next?

Need nappies or wipes? Want to avoid nappy rashes? Intent on taking eco-positive steps to look after the world your baby will inherit?

Buy your nappies and wipes online quickly and easily from Tinkle, the home of the best biodegradable bamboo disposable nappies!