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Checklist of Essentials for a New Baby: Build the Best Daddy Diaper Bag Shower Gift EVER!

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Our best man and his wife are expecting their first baby any day now, and I’ve been working on putting together a diaper bag filled with all our favourite baby items as a baby shower gift for the dad-to-be. Putting together a gift like this inspires my creativity and is a fun reminiscence on life with really little ones. The list of essential baby items below are some of my favourite and most-used items, and are what I will be putting together for our friends and their new little one!

It’s so easy to overpack a diaper bag. Changes of clothes, extra diapers, blankets, toys, food, everything that used to be in your (overstuffed) purse… That sucker can weigh more than your newborn baby! If you want to stick to the simplest, most minimal bag, this list is for you.

Load your diaper bag up with these goodies (or gift them at a baby shower and only be out-shone by the lady with diaper cake!). And, bonus, unlike those spendy (but gorgeous) Petunia Pickle Bottom and Ju-Ju-Be bags, if you play your cards right, Daddy will carry this diaper bag!

After two kids of my own and watching what friends and family valued most, this series of baby item posts include my top picks to survive the first months and years with a new addition and a free checklist to keep track of them all. Today I’m focusing on the essential baby items you want with you all the time – those basic building blocks of your minimalist diaper bag!

The “Jack Bag”

This is the non-diaper bag to beat all diaper bags. Hubby doesn’t want to carry around that chevron Skip Hop? It’s not really Mom’s style, either? Fans of 24 may remember the utility bag the lead character, Jack, carried around in the later seasons. Guess what? It’s made by Rothco, is under $30 and makes an AMAZING diaper bag that fits all the essentials on your new baby checklist AND keeps them organized. They even have it in pink, if you want to go that route.

Diaper clutch

Diaper bags are big, and you don’t always want to haul them plus baby to the change table. So don’t! Try the Munchkin Go Change or SkipHop Pronto diapering clutch up with the essentials: a few diapers, your change pad (or use the detachable built-in one), wipes, and you’ve got a small clutch to carry to the bathroom instead of the giant diaper bag. This also keeps diaper supplies corralled in your purse so you don’t need to worry about a surprise diaper change if you stop at the grocery store after daycare pick-up.

Sidenote: don’t worry about a fancy wipes container. Just put a dozen or so wipes in a ziplock bag and refill as necessary. It’s inevitably going to get dirty or forgotten, this way you can toss it instead of disinfecting it (some of those cracks and creases in the fancy ones are never going to come clean).

Disposable Change Pads

Compact. Disposable. Big! I think disposable change pads may have been my favourite discovery as a parent. They are so useful. Diaper changing in public can be nasty. And the change-pad is easy to lose (we had already forgotten two before I found these!). Don’t worry about clearing up the change-pad, too, with these modern, semi-re-usable diaper bag essentials.

Baby Butz Bum Cream

Both my kids had bum rash issues. As a result, we’ve tried out a LOT of diaper cream (pharmacist’s tip: if you are dealing with a bad rash, put some Polysporin on it!) and BabyButz Cream was is our favourite. It’s smooth, short ingredient list, but most importantly, it works!


Whether you choose cloth or ‘sposie, diapers are one of those things you can’t live without (even if you do “Elimination Communication” you’ll need them for a while). Based on my totally unscientific research, rumour has it that Huggies fit boys better, and Pampers fit girls better. Then you can get into things like Kirkland/Costco brand, store brands, 7th Generation, Honest Company, and who knows how many others out there for disposables. I never tried cloth (I can’t keep up on laundry as it is!) and won’t pretend to know what I’m talking about there, or even where to send you — my apologies!

How many diapers you carry with you depends on your baby, the length of your outing(s), and how paranoid you are. With my eldest, when she was still tiny, we could go through two dozen diapers a day. My youngest currently goes through about four at just over 2. I always try to pack more than I need. There’s nothing worse than running out of diapers!


I debated including this, but I wanted to share my opinion on the options out there. I hate Huggies wipes. Hubby stocked us up with a mega pack recently and I sent most of them to daycare! My personal favourites are Pampers Sensitive wipes. They’re a bit smaller than the regular ones (which means they fit in a ziplock bag better!), but thicker. I’ve never accidentally stuck my fingers through them (yes, I’m looking at you, Huggies wipes).


Where do you put the diaper once it’s off baby? Those dollar store doggy poop bags are way cheaper than the “baby diaper” bags and basically the same thing. So hit up the pet aisle at your nearest dollar store and get twice the bags for half the price. Attach the dispenser to the strap of your diaper bag and you’re ready to roll.

Hand Sanitizer

While we’re talking about stuff to attach to the outside of your bag, pick up some hand sanitizer to dangle in an easily accessible spot on your dad friendly diaper bag!

Boogie Wipes

Boogie Wipes might be my favourite baby product ever (but the change pads are still my biggest “aha!” moment). These damp facial tissues will keep baby’s nose happier during the relentless battle against snot running down their face during a cold or while cutting teeth. (And I can only say happier, because who would willingly sit through having their nose pinched twenty times an hour?)

Muslin Blanket

Aden&Anias had the original market on these (and I still swear by the ultra-soft bamboo set I picked up in 2013), but so many other companies have moved into this territory you can find them everywhere (A&A even have their own cheaper labels)! Watch for the size of the blanket (that’s one of the original selling features of the A&A blankets) and how the design was printed (I find some silk-screened images rough to the touch). They make an excellent swaddling blanket, sunshade, play mat, burp cloth, change pad (if you don’t have a disposable one!) and it’s even big enough to use as a nursing cover! If you can find one second-hand snap it up – they last forever and get softer with more washes, so let someone else do the breaking in for you!

Munchkin Sippy Cup

From about six months old, both my kids were drinking water out of Munchkin weighted straw cups. The weighted straw lets them hold it at ANY angle and still get a drink, the lid is easy to operate to keep the straw protected when out an about, and a feat of engineering keeps it from leaking! Each cup also comes with its own cleaning brush so you can get the inside of the straw clean. Our youngest is two and a half and we still have four of these in the cupboard.


As a gift, the classic WubANubsoother is always a hit. Or you could go with just the plain Soothie. If baby is picky, try a NUK Airflow. You can never have too many of baby’s favourite soother. Also worth investing in is a cute soother leash!

Wet Bag

Wet bags are often associated with cloth diapering, but don’t strike this diaper bag essential off your checklist if you plan to use disposables. I’ll admit they are only a “nice to have” with a ‘sposies infant (great for drool-wet bibs), BUT you can continue using them for swimming lessons and other activities as the kids age. I ended up buying some when my eldest was three because of swimming lessons, and wish I’d picked it up when she was much younger!

Coffee or Strikeforce

What dad gift would be complete without some caffeine? Whether you opt for a coffee shop gift card, travel mug and grounds, or an energy drink, the new dad is going to need it! (Moms do, too, but if they’re nursing caffeine may still be off the table, depending if baby is sensitive or not.)

Bonus item: carrier – ring sling, buckle carrier, mei dai

I could write an entire article on this subject (there are entire websites on it), but when it comes to transporting a baby outside of a vehicle, not much beats a baby carrier, and there are so many options for carriers out there.

The simplest are probably buckle carriers – my personal favourite is a Manduca, but fit is very personal and I recommend trying on a few. You can also get into wraps, slings, or somewhere in between with a meh dai/mai tai carrier. For a diaper bag that will be used by both parents a light weight Infantino mai tai would be one of my first choices, especially if you don’t know if baby wearing is for you.

What Else?

If you enjoyed this list, keep your eyes out for more! I have a post (or five) about carriers and some more home-based baby basics in the works! I’ll link up here once they’re live. Once all of that is done, I’ll put everything together (with a few bonus items!) into an awesome printable checklist to help you get ready for baby!

Keep the Inspiration Coming

Did I miss your favourite diaper bag item? Or do you agree with me on one of these? Have an awesome diaper bag hack I didn’t share? Please let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

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