Diaper nappy changing bag for newborn

Three Easy Steps to Choosing a Diaper Bag

Researching, looking, and buying things for your baby is a really exciting process. For many expecting parents, buying a diaper bag will be high on their shopping list of essentials. A diaper bag can provide a place to conveniently carry and access the things that you and your baby will need. It can be a home away from home and help a parent feel prepared. 

But with all the different types of bags on the market, how do you know what to look for in a diaper bag? The exact answer will depend on your personal preferences and lifestyle. However, to help you find what will work best for you, we have broken it down into three main steps.

 

 1. Size – What size of diaper bag do you need?

The size of the diaper bag will depend on your intended use. Consider how you plan to use your diaper bag. Will it be for short errands or quick trips to the park? For day long outings? Or longer weekend trips? The diaper bag should have enough space for your intended use. At the minimum, you will want it to hold the essentials for a diaper change, a change of clothes, and a feeding.

You will likely need more space for longer trips to store extra diapers, wipes, food, toys, and other items like blankets. If cloth diapering, make sure there is enough space for your cloth diapers. If you plan to use it as a bag for both yourself and your child, look for a bag with enough space for your personal items, as well. If you’ll be using the bag for more than one child, you may need some extra space for the items that they don’t have in common.

Above all, you know yourself best. If you know you are the type who likes to pack more than the essentials - even for short trips - then look for a larger bag that will make you feel comfortable and prepared. If you are a minimalist, a smaller bag may be suitable.

You can refer to our What Should I Pack in My Diaper Bag blog post to get a better idea on what you would likely pack in your diaper bag. This will help make sure your diaper bag will have enough space for all your needs.

 

2. Style – What style of diaper bag works best?

Having an idea of the diaper bag size you need can help you decide on a bag style that can work for you. In addition to aesthetics, take into account comfort when selecting a bag style. Below are the common styles that diaper bags come in for you to take into consideration.

  • Backpack: It’s not a surprise that backpack diaper bags are very popular since they come in various sizes and can be worn on your back with some weight distribution over both shoulders. This can be useful especially if carrying a heavier load and for a long period of time. It also allows you to carry your baby in the front. A disadvantage is that items are not at hands reach, and the backpack would likely need to be taken off to get the things you need from it.
  • Messenger bag: With a long shoulder strap, the messenger bag can be worn crossbody or over the shoulder. A messenger bag can provide easier access to items since it can be easily brought to the front to get things from it. A con to this style, however, is that there isn’t as much weight distribution when wearing it, so it can strain your shoulder, especially if carrying a heavy load and for a long period of time.
  •  Tote bag: A tote bag is typically spacious and has two long straps that can be worn over the shoulder. It can provide easy access to items, but as a messenger bag, it can strain the shoulder it is being worn on, as the weight isn’t distributed across both shoulders.
  •  Diaper clutch: A diaper clutch will typically only fit the bare minimum for a diaper change, and it can sometimes have a small wrist strap or shoulder strap. Many are small enough to also fit inside a larger diaper bag if needed.
  • Sling bag or Waist bag (fanny pack, belt bag): These bags tend to be on the smaller side and can provide a minimalist option to carry the baby’s essentials. Depending on the style chosen, this type of bag could be worn across the back or front, around the waist, and some even over the shoulder.
  • Convertible bags: This type of diapers bags have straps that can be arranged to convert the bag between different bag styles, such as between a messenger bag, tote, or backpack. This can be a good option to change the look of the bag and allows for the bag to be carried in different ways depending on what is most convenient at the time.

 

3. Features – What features should your diaper bag have?

Through the first two steps of choosing a diaper bag, you would have gotten to know the style and size of bag you would like, and also what you are likely to want to put in it. Now let's take a look at the different features that diapers bags can offer, so that you can also get an idea of what you want your diaper bag to do for you. Features to consider:

  • Easy to Organize: In addition to lots of pockets, you also want them to be accessible and purposeful. The key job of a diaper bag is to make it easy for you to carry your baby’s things.

Bags with designated pockets for items such as, baby bottles, diapers, and wipes, will make it easier for you to find what you are looking for. Dedicated compartments will help keep you organized.

Look out for both inside and outside pockets. It is nice to have some outer pockets for things you may need to reach more quickly without having to open the bag’s main compartment.

Also, some parents like to pack things directly in the diaper bag pockets; others prefer to pack things inside pouches and then pack the pouches inside the diaper bag, while others might do a combination of the two. If you plan to pack with pouches, you may not need as many dedicated pockets, but should still check that there are enough pockets to keep you organized without having to dig in too much to get what you need. 

  • Easy to clean: The diaper bag is prone to get dirty, so it is good to have a bag that is easy to clean. The bag should be made from easy-to-wipe material in case of any accidents, such as food or drinks spilling on or inside your bag.
  • Bottle Pockets: Most bags will come with bottle pockets, or side pockets that can be used for baby bottles, as well.

Some bottle pockets are insulated. Having insulated bottle pockets can help with storing baby milk or other food. They can be convenient, but you will still need to make sure to follow the recommended storage conditions for the milk or for the food you will be storing in it You may also need to use ice packs or warm packs with it.

If you are planning to bottle feed, or think you might in the future, check that there are enough bottle pockets for your needs. Note that if you need more space for baby bottles, you can also get a separate insulated baby bottle bag, but if you plan to keep it inside the diaper bag, you will need to make sure that there is enough space for it inside the bag.

If you plan to carry your water bottle or a toddler sippy cup, then check that the bottle pockets are large enough for them, as well. Some parents also like to use insulated bottles to carry warm water for bottle feedings. If you plan to use an insulated bottle, check that it fits in the diaper bag’s bottle pockets or that it can fit inside the bag, as some insulated bottles can be on the larger side.

  • Parent pocket: If you intend to keep your personal items in the diaper bag, then it will be good to have a pocket with enough space to keep your personal items in, too.
    • Changing pad: Most diaper bags will come with a changing pad, as well as with a designated pocket for the changing pad. Others may come with a changing station with a changing pad that folds out. If a changing pad is an important feature for you, then check if the size and design is good enough for what you need, as some parents feel that the ones that come with diaper bags can be on the smaller size and opt for purchasing a separate one instead.
    • Shareability: Keep in mind who else will be using the diaper bag with you. If you are not the only one who will be using the diaper bag, then look for features that you may all enjoy. Also, consider choosing a color or design that you all like or at least don’t mind.
    • Adaptability: Some bags may work really well for the baby stage, and maybe not work as well for the toddler stage and beyond, or vice versa. Take into consideration your future needs, such as the toddler stage, when looking at diaper bags.
    • Comfort: You want to look for a bag that is comfortable enough to carry, especially if it’s full and if you plan to carry it for long periods of time. This will also depend on the type of bag you decide on (backpack, messenger bag, tote, etc.).

    In general, you want to look for comfortable shoulder straps that are padded. If applicable, look for adjustable straps that take you and anyone else that will be using the bag into consideration.

    It can be difficult to avoid having a heavy diaper bag, especially if you plan to pack a lot, but look out for features that can make it as comfortable as possible. 

    If you plan to travel often, then having a diaper bag with a luggage strap can be useful so that it can be attached to a roller carry-on when needed. Additionally, if you plan to go out with your stroller often, having a diaper bag that can be attached to the stroller can help. When attaching a diaper bag to your stroller, make sure to check the type of stroller you have and if it’s okay to attach a diaper bag to it so to prevent the stroller from tipping over. As per the American Academy of Pediatrics, as a precaution, parents can store heavy items like diaper bags in the basket underneath the stroller instead of hanging it on the stroller handlebars.

    • Secure closures: Depending on the type of pocket and what is meant to be stored in it, it is a good idea to check that the external pockets, in particular, can be closed properly to avoid things falling out. 
    • Durability: Diaper bags tend to take on more wear and tear than a typical bag. They will be set down on various surfaces from grass, to sand, to bathroom floors. They may be spilled on, spit on, painted on, and who knows what else may get on them. They also tend to get stuffed and heavily packed. If possible, you will want a diaper bag made of quality materials and with a strong construction to prevent it from ripping on you, especially when with a baby in tow.
      •  Aesthetics: Thankfully, when it comes to diaper bags there are many options. Keep in mind that when choosing a color, darker shades on the outside of the bag are less likely to show dirt and stains, and lighter interior colors can make it easier to see what is inside the bag.

      The diaper bag is inspired by your baby, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be perfected by you. Look for something that you will feel comfortable carrying and that can be useful for you, as well. Whichever diaper bag you choose, keep these important factors in mind when looking for you diaper bag to hopefully make it easier for you to find one that works best for you.