Having a baby means a lot of changes, including the fact that you are going to have to start toting around a lot of stuff. Even if you think you’ll get away with carrying only a few diapers in your purse, you will quickly realize that the more “stuff” you carry with you, the better off you will be.
Whether you plan on carrying a week’s worth of supplies with you or you only want to carry enough for the day, finding a great diaper bag with all the features you need can be a fun adventure. We know there are plenty of options out there, so how can you avoid burnout and decision fatigue?
Not to worry – we’ve got you covered! Let’s work through this list to see what your real wants and needs are when it comes to a super diaper bag.
Decide on How You Will Use Your Bag
The first thing you need to figure out when choosing a diaper bag is what size you will need. It may certainly be tempting to purchase a smaller bag, especially if you have just one child. However, it is always the safest bet to go a little bigger than you think you needed. It’s similar to buying shoes; you want a little extra room for your toes to allow for a full range of movement; shoes that are too tight are painful, and you’ll never wear them. Plus, if you ever have more babies (or even want to bring a pet along on your adventures), you’ll be glad for the extra space.
If a traditional diaper bag seems too cumbersome for you, consider buying a diaper fanny pack or even a mini version of the classic you know and love. Choosing a larger-sized diaper bag will erase those moments of panic when you realize you forgot to pack one of the essentials. It also eliminates those headaches when you have to choose between which essentials to carry with you.
Think About the Type of Bags
There are a few different types of bags that you have to choose from - gone are the days when you only had one large tote bag option. So, let’s choose something that really works for you. While this isn’t an exhaustive list of types, here are some of the more popular ones:
- Backpacks are great hands-free options that are comfortable and perfect for people who need both hands and arms free. They can be worn while you push a stroller, walk a dog, or hold your baby upfront. These bags have a few side pockets and one or two main pockets that are easy to personalize.
- Messenger Bags are the standard for diaper bags. They can be worn crossbody or over your shoulder. They tend to have one large pocket and maybe a few pockets on the outside.
- Tote Bags can be carried only over your shoulder and generally have one large middle section. They don’t hold or organize a lot, but they can hold the essentials.
- Clutches: Clutches hold the bare minimum, but they can be a nice supplemental bag for someone who is going to an event and needs to take only a few things.
- Fanny Packs: Similar to clutches, these only hold the bare minimum as well, but they are more casual and can be wrapped around your waist to keep your hands free. This is a great option for outdoor events.
Size of Your Diaper Bag
How big do you want your diaper bag to be? Size is important because it dictates how much your bag can hold. If you plan to refill it every night or don’t need to pack multiple things in it, then you don’t necessarily need a huge diaper bag. However, if you go on a lot of weekend trips, take your baby to Grandma’s house, or just need a lot of stuff because of a medical condition, you’ll want to look for a bigger bag.
Is the material used in your diaper bag important to you? For many people, they want a bag that is at least somewhat fashionable. Gone are the days when a plasticky bag with polka dots or cartoon characters were the norm. Nowadays, diaper bags can be made out of just about anything, including canvas, leather, cotton, and more.
Think about what you want from your bag, what your other gear is made out of, and how easy something will be to clean. Different materials can easily be wiped down, while others will need to be thrown in the washing machine. You want a material that will be convenient to keep clean during all your kid-friendly activities.
You also want to think about the type of closures your diaper bag will have. Do you want something that zips shut (best for those living in cities or taking public transportation because if everything falls out, you have a disaster) or do you want something with snaps (best if you need help from older children).
The best thing is to look for a diaper bag that offers a few different types of closures where you can pick and choose where things go. In general, however, zippers are usually the most convenient option that most parents lean toward.
Of course, you also want to think about the comfort of your bag. You don’t want a diaper bag that is going to push on your joints or make you uncomfortable. Many cheaper bags don’t think about pressure points and can get uncomfortable fairly quickly. As a new mom in particular, you need to think about protecting your back.
It's best to try different bags and their strap options to see what feels best for your arms, shoulder, and back. Wider, reinforced straps tend to be more comfortable for most bodies.
Oh, the extras! And there are plenty! The next thing you want to think about is all those little “extras” that come with your diaper bag. The best diaper bag won’t have everything, but it will have a nice selection of extras to choose from to fit your needs. Sometimes, those extras will be detachable, and other times, a “deluxe” version will already have them.
Some bonus features we think you’ll want to consider are:
- Stroller Straps or Stroller Clips: These are convenient features that allow your bag to attach easily to a stroller, grocery cart, or even a ride-along toy. They have designated connectors to ensure the bag isn’t too heavy and won’t break.
- Insulation: Having at least some insulation (many will have insulated pockets) can help to keep snacks, bottles, and even wipes cool.
- Changing Pads: Changing pads are super handy, and some diaper bags will have a fold-out pad to change your baby on when you are on the go. It’s a great option to cover those changing tables in bathrooms when they look, well, less than clean.
- Pockets: We almost made this its own category because the number of pockets that the bag has really matters. Are you looking to be extremely organized, or do you already know that things will just end up thrown in the main compartment? As a parent, pockets are everything!
Are You Sharing Your Bag?
Another thing to consider is whether or not you will share the diaper bag with another person. While it shouldn’t matter, some men don’t like carrying diaper bags that appear more feminine. Sharing your bag is quite common, so you may want to talk to your partner about what they would like in a bag as well.
Of course, using two diaper bags is always an option, but that can be a lot for families to juggle and can be confusing when a baby has one toy or blanket that they love, especially if it ends up in the wrong bag.
Explore Your Options
As you can see, you have many different options when you begin your search for the best diaper bag for your family. Don’t forget that most parents will have a few different bags that they use. Some will have a “main” diaper bag that they use on a daily basis, but then they will use a different bag for smaller events when they won’t be gone from home for long (think grocery shopping or going to the doctor).
If you aren’t sure where to start, many new parents love the backpack style because of how versatile it is and how easy it is to use. When the right bag is designed properly, it will feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all. So, feel free to start with what you’re comfortable with and go from there. The great news is that you’re not married to any one diaper bag. If your needs change, then so can your bag!