How to Build a Zero Waste Diaper Bag

Are you interested in zero waste parenting focused on plastic-free baby products? Or hoping to stick to an ethical baby registry with sustainable newborn essentials? I spent a lot of time perfecting my zero waste diaper bag for all the conveniences without disposables. Any item in this bag would make an excellent zero waste shower gift for an eco-conscious mama or papa.

Every parent knows the importance of a fully-loaded diaper bag which does a lot more than just carry diapers. It’s a survival kit with all the necessities for getting around town with baby. My diaper bag is equipped with essentials for cloth diapering on-the-go and gear to minimize my waste while getting around with a little minion by my side.

Choosing a diaper bag

There is no need to buy a dedicated diaper bag if you already have something that works. A spacious backpack or gym bag could do the trick. I appreciate a backpack because it’s easier to carry and keeps you hands-free. Even better if your pack has an optional shoulder strap for when you need your bag to be more accessible. I also think a stylish bag is a good investment since you’ll be wearing it for years. The more you love wearing the bag, the longer you’ll use it. I also recommend a bag with a laptop compartment so you can continue to use it when you go back to the office. A diaper bag makes a great gift but it’s something you’ll use often so be sure to choose a model first and add it to your registry. I was gifted an Axara diaper bag, which is great. I started wearing it even before I had my baby because it’s practical for just about anything. I also occasionally use my MEC carry-on backpack with wheels when I’m baby-wearing or need a little more space for extra gear. A bag with wheels is a great option when you’ll be travelling in inaccessible places and can’t have your stroller but don’t want to schlep everything on your back.

Cloth diapering and baby essentials

If you’re moving towards a zero waste lifestyle, you’ll probably want to avoid disposable diapers. Did you know the average child sends 7,000 diapers to a landfill in their lifetime? That number shocked me and motivated me to commit to cloth diapering. At first, I thought that cloth diapering on-the-go would be difficult but it’s pretty straightforward. It just requires the right routine to make it as easy as disposable diapering.

To simplify things, I prefer to use all-in-one diapers when I’m out. These diapers have absorbency sewn in, so you don’t need to worry about stuffing or removing inserts. My favourite is the Bum Genius Freetime diapers, which work great for my 6-month old. Otherwise, Pocket diapers are a very good option as well, but I didn’t particularly appreciate removing the inserts after they’d been sitting a while in my wet bag. There are far more options for pocket diapers, including local Quebec brands like La Petite Ourse.

When your baby starts eating solids and has chunky poops, you may want to get disposable liners to remove the solid poop layer. You probably don’t want to trek around with a poopy all day. If you’re baby is under 6 months, you don’t need to worry about liners because your baby’s poop is probably pretty soft and inoffensive. It’s also water-soluble so you can put the diapers straight into the washing machine.

Cloth diaper supplies

  • 3 cloth diapers – about 1 diaper for every 2 hours
  • 6 baby washcloths – to use as baby wipes
  • A small spray bottle with water – to moisten wipes when there is no sink
  • Wet bag – for dirty diapers
  • Waterproof changing mat
  • All-purpose DIY balm – for baby’s bum, mama’s nipples and hands
  • Diaper rash cream, if needed
  • Disposable liners (see the note above)

Other baby essentials

  • A spare change of clothes
  • Burp cloth
  • A few extra washcloths to use as all-purpose wipes
  • Thermometer – optional – my baby was born in flu season and a pandemic
  • Muslin blanket – great for cuddles, shading baby or creating a play area
  • Pacifiers, if needed – Opt for natural rubber pacifiers for an eco-friendly version
  • Teethers or other toys
  • Nursing scarf, if needed
  • Breast pump, if needed

Food essentials

I don’t always need to pack food but when I do, I can’t always fit all of my baby food essentials in my diaper bag. If I know I need to feed my baby a bottle and/or solids on the go. I might pack them in a separate insulated lunch bag.

  • Bottles, if needed – Mason jar nipples are a great eco-friendly alternative to plastic bottles. The 4 oz and 8 oz jars are perfect bottle sizes and can also be used for frozen milk and baby food storage. Mason Bottle makes nipples and silicone sleeves or you can use Como Tomo nipples too.
  • A mini icepack for keeping milk and baby food cold.
  • Bib – I really like the sleeved bib on the go because baby stays relatively clean.
  • Baby food – mason jars are great for storing and transporting food.
  • Baby spoon and bowl, if needed

Zero waste essentials for mama and/or papa

  • A snack, packed in a reusable bag
  • Utensils and a cloth napkin
  • Reusable shopping bag
  • Extra reusable food bag or container for taking leftovers home (optional)
  • Travel cup – I like the collapsable cup by Stojo because it stores easily and comes with a straw for cold drinks. It’s also big enough to fit a standard baby bottle inside for warming with hot water.
  • Thermos style water bottle – super practical if you need to transport hot water for warming up bottles or baby food.

I hope this helps parents plan for a greener diaper bag. If you have any questions about cloth diapering and accessories, reach out to me on Facebook or Instagram.