After you have a baby, your purse becomes less of a fashion statement and more of a declaration that “you got this.” No matter what situation you run into, you have a diaper, a wipe, a toy and a baggie of goldfish to patch it up.  All of the sudden your priority items become diapers and Cheerios rather than a lip gloss that matches your outfit. Instead of grabbing it (along with your coffee mug) as you fly out the door on your way to work, you will spend time doing inventory on diapers, wipes, bottles, and outfit changes… and you’ll forget the coffee mug on the counter – or the top of your car. Then, when you realize you forgot something, you’ll beat yourself up over it. You may just wonder what came over you when you forgot to check for the butt paste. So much for being Supermom, right?

diaper bag

Keep your Supermom cape with this checklist of the 12 essentials:

Diapers – Duh. It’s called a “diaper bag” for a reason. Even if you’re just running down the street to grab a loaf of bread… take the diapers. It’s pretty embarrassing when your kiddo makes a mess and you have nothing to clean it up.

stack of diapers

Wipes – You always need these for the same reason you always need the diapers. Plus, they’re nice for other things like runny noses… and everything your rugrat decides to spill on you.

Plastic bags – In the event that your kid makes a mess of himself it’s best to have plastic bags (like the ones from the grocery store – or you can use a more eco-friendly biodegradable version) on hand to keep the soiled clothes from making a mess of your entire bag.

Extra clothes – See #3. No one likes a kid covered in poo, and you don’t really want him to be out on the town in his birthday suit, do you?

stack of baby clothes

Hand sanitizer – Kids don’t always make a huge mess when you’re standing right next to a sink/soap dispenser. In reality, the biggest poop explosion of your kid’s life will probably happen when you’re on a walk at the park and the nearest bathroom is a 15 minute walk in the opposite direction. Just keep a little bottle of sanitizer with you, and save yourself the headache later.

Changing pad – Yes, a lot of public restrooms have changing stations. Some of them even have little disposable pads with them so you don’t have to send your kid’s tush to the same germ-party everyone else’s kid was just at. However, speaking from experience, I know that not many of the places you assume have stations…don’t. If you do find one with the disposable pads still in stock it’s a miracle. Chances are you’ll find that your favorite restaurant doesn’t have a changing station, and you’ll have to whip out your own changing pad and change him on the bathroom sink.

Blanket – A blanket’s purpose seems simple enough, but it has the potential to be so much more! It’s a burp cloth, a changing pad, a nursing cover, a shade, etc. Don’t leave the house without one even if it’s 150 degrees outside.

baby with blanket

Bottles – Whether you’re formula feeding or breast feeding, make sure you have plenty to feed baby while you are out. Even though I am breastfeeding, I like to keep at least 1 bottle of extra formula/breast milk with me just in case. It comes in handy.

Pacifier – If your kid uses one, make sure you have at least 2. If one falls on the ground, and you’re no where near somewhere to wash it, (and trust me… This will happen. A lot), it’ll help to have a spare.

Bottle of water – Keeping a bottle of water with you won’t just keep you hydrated, but it also can come in handy when cleaning up messes, you need some water to make an extra bottle, or your kids get thirsty. Plus, you can refill it almost anywhere.

Snacks/sippy-cups – If you have an older baby or a toddler, bring some of their favorite snacks and a sippy-cup of juice or milk. Then when he’s screaming for food–and you’re still an hour away from dinner–you can give him something to hold him over… and no, you’re not a bad parent for stealing a few of your kid’s goldfish crackers.

baby with sippy cup

Your wallet – I’ve seen some moms try to carry one of those huge purses and a huge diaper bag, and I always wonder what the heck they’re thinking. I keep a smaller bag that contains my wallet, compact, and Advil inside my diaper bag. It makes it easy to grab if I’m running to the store alone. I don’t have to carry two bags when I’m out with the kids.

Do you have a must-have item in your diaper bag that didn’t make the list?! Please share it in the comments below!