Taking your little one on an outing, short or long, can be an adventure. So much can happen to impact the success of your mission: the baby may become ill, may get into something messy, or may need a little extra comfort while around strangers.

That is why it is a good idea to pack the diaper bag ahead of time. Don’t wait until you’re ready to leave, because time constraints may cause you to forget something. Start early, like the night before, when you can think clearly.

You may even want to keep a list posted in a convenient place, like the inside of a kitchen cabinet or on the side of the baby’s changing table. That way you can look over the checklist to see if you’ve forgotten anything before leaving the house. Here are some of the basic items that many moms prefer to take along.

Some may not be needed, but it’s better to be prepared with too much than underprepared with too little:

1. Diapers and changing accessories

Whether your infant wears cloth or disposable diapers, take along a few extras and add more to the bag when you return home. The general rule of thumb is to change the diaper every three or four hours. But if your infant is taking a lot of milk or has loose stools, you may need to change him or her more often.

With cloth diapers, you also will need fastening pins and plastic or rubber pants. With either, don’t forget to bring pre-packaged commercial wipes for cleaning the little one’s bottom during changing, or a baby’s washcloth if you prefer. Include a plastic bag for the cloth afterward. Add a small tube of cream or lotion for the baby’s bottom, especially if a diaper rash has developed.

2. Bottles and formula powder

Include sterile water if you need to mix the powder while out. Or mix it before leaving home if you have a thermal container to keep it warm or cold until it’s needed.

Don’t forget the burp cloth for afterward, and a pacifier to keep the baby happy until feeding time. If your little one is eating baby food, bring a box of baby cereal with the formula to mix as needed or a jar or two of baby food along with an infant-sized spoon. Add a plastic bag for the spoon after using it.

3. A change of clothes

The baby may spit up or the diaper can leak, so bring at least one clean outfit for changing if necessary. The set should include the gown or sleeper with a tee-shirt, booties or socks, hat, and a receiving blanket. Bring a small laundry bag for the dirty items.

4. Accessories

Include additional items, such as medicine, a favorite toy, or cotton swabs that may be needed while you’re away from home. As your baby’s needs change, for example when teething begins and gum soothing medicine may be required, update your list accordingly.

Remove all dirty items when you return home and wash them as soon as possible. Store unused food, and replace the things you will need to take next time, such as the pacifier or cotton swabs. You may want to keep a separate supply of certain items in the bag at all times so you won’t forget on the next outing.

A diaper bag can become a parent’s most treasured possession when taking the baby out for a visit or an appointment. Put yours to good use and prepare ahead of time so you won’t be disappointed next time.