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Updated on
December 14, 2022

How to Choose a Diaper Bag

By Babylist Team
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How to Choose a Diaper Bag.
Photo by @_monicajean
How to Choose a Diaper Bag

The diaper bag: constant companion, toter of allll the things and a parent’s best friend.

A never-leave-home-without-it accessory, the diaper bag is one of the most-used pieces of baby gear some new parents buy. But there are a lot of different types of bags on the market, with many features to consider. So what’s right for you?

Here’s everything you need to know about this handy piece of gear and how to choose the diaper bag that works for your family.

Diaper Bag 101

It’s no secret that babies need a lot of stuff. From blowouts to bottles, there’s much to deal with when you’re taking care of a little one, especially when you’re not at home.

A diaper bag is a perfect spot to store everything you need for baby in one place when you’re out and about. Even if you’re the most minimalist of parents, it’s a must-have for toting diapers and wipes, of course, but other necessities like a change of clothes, extra pacifiers, bottles and a toy or two.

Finding the perfect diaper bag definitely depends on your personal preferences. Here are a few things to consider before you make your decision.

What Types of Diaper Bags Are There?

There are a few basic styles of diaper bags:

  • A backpack is a great hands-free option. They can also be worn on your back while you’re wearing your baby in a carrier up front.
  • Messenger bags have one long strap that can either be worn crossbody or over your shoulder.
  • Tote bags have two long straps and can be carried over your shoulder.
  • A diaper clutch is a small, portable bag that usually features a small strap that slips over your wrist. Clutches only fit the bare minimum. Another minimalist option is a waist bag, sometimes also called a fanny pack or a belt bag. These types of bags go around your waist and are a good hands-free option.

How Will I Use My Diaper Bag?

Before you take a deep dive into diaper bag research, you’ll want to think about how you’re going to be using your bag.

Some considerations:

  • Are you a city parent who’ll be regularly pushing a stroller and will need your hands free? Then a backpack-style bag may be right for you.
  • Are you planning on bottle feeding at all? Finding a diaper bag with insulated pockets is probably a good idea.
  • Are you having twins, or thinking about adding another baby to your family in the near future? You may want to look into a roomier style bag that will offer plenty of storage space.

Think about your lifestyle, your specific needs and how you plan on using your bag, and it will make your decision process a whole lot easier. You can also check out our Ask the Expert column on all things diaper bags for answers to lots of common diaper bag questions, including a quick packing list on what exactly to put in your bag once you decide on one.

Diaper Bag Features to Consider

Are you a sucker for style? Then you’ll probably want a designer bag that looks more like a purse than a traditional diaper bag. If you’re more of a minimalist, then maybe a streamlined backpack or a diaper clutch is a good choice for you. There are lots of options across a huge array of styles, but there are a few features you’ll want to keep an eye out for:

  • Plenty of space. See above about babies needing a lot of stuff!
  • Easy to clean. Dirty diapers or clothes. Leaky bottles. It’s good to have a wipe-clean surface or even a machine-washable bag.
  • Shareability. What works for you may not work for your partner or caregiver, so keep in mind who else will be using the diaper bag when making your choice.
  • Ergonomic. You’ll want something that’s comfortable to carry, especially when it’s full!

Extras that are nice to have:

  • Insulated pockets: These keep bottles, water or snacks cool.
  • Changing pad: Some bags include a foldout pad you can change baby on.
  • Stroller clips: This convenient feature allows you to attach your diaper bag to your stroller, so you don’t have to carry it or take up precious space in the stroller basket.
  • Lots of pockets: Having designated spots to put things can help you find what you’re looking for more easily. Baby stuff is tiny, and dedicated compartments help keep you organized so you’re not spending 10 minutes rooting around your bag every time you need to grab something.

Now let’s get shopping.

Backpack Diaper Bags

What Our Experts Say

Backpack diaper bags are a popular choice for lots of parents, and for good reason. They enable you to comfortably carry everything you need for a day out with baby while keeping both hands free—a huge plus. They’re generally roomy, feature lots of pockets and compartments for extra storage, and come in a huge variety of styles.

What’s Worth Considering

One downside of a backpack-style bag is that it can get in the way of babywearing. It’s definitely doable to babywear and carry a backpack, but it can get a little heavy. Since you have to take it off to reach inside, a backpack is also less accessible than other diaper bag styles.

Popular Picks

Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. Diaper Bag, Parker Baby Co. Birch Bag Diaper Backpack, Product of the North + Babylist Sustainable Elkin Diaper Backpack, Freshly Picked Classic Diaper Bag, Ruvalino Diaper Bag Backpack, Carter’s Handle It All Diaper Bag Backpack, Dagne Dover Indi Diaper Backpack, Mina Baie Harper Midi Backpack (Black/Gold)

Messenger Diaper Bags

What Our Experts Say

Messenger-style bags are often used as diaper bags. Lots of pockets and zippered compartments make this style of bag easy to organize: put diapers in one pocket, fresh clothes in another, snacks in a third…you get the idea. The padded cross-body strap keeps the bag secure and gives your back and shoulders more ergonomic support than a one-arm carry.

What’s Worth Considering

It can be tricky to easily access the contents of your bag. The foldover front that gives the messenger its signature style can be aggravating to open and close for some parents.

Popular Picks

Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack, Skip Hop Greenwich Simply Chic Convertible Diaper Backpack, Mina Baie Audrey, Fawn Design The Original Diaper Bag

Tote Bags

What Our Experts Say

With its diaper-bag-that-doesn’t-look-like-a-diaper-bag design, large, open storage space and one-shoulder carry, the tote hits the mark for function and style. It’s perfect for the parent who likes the look of a traditional bag or who wants a diaper bag that will double as a work or laptop bag. And the tote has plenty of space for everything you’ll need for a day out with baby.

What’s Worth Considering

One of the things that’s great about a tote—the large, versatile storage space—also makes it easy for items to get mixed up and fall to the bottom of the bag. That can be frustrating when you’re trying to quickly find that pacifier for your fussy baby. (Any type of small, removable organizers are a great solve for this issue.) Also remember that totes usually don’t have a cross-body strap (although some do come with that option, which is ideal), so there’s always the chance of your bag slipping off your shoulder.

Popular Picks

Baby K’Tan Flex Diaper Bag, Dagne Dover Large Wade Diaper Tote, TwelveLittle ‘Love’ Water Resistant Nylon Diaper Tote, Little Unicorn Citywalk Faux Leather Diaper Tote, MZ Wallace Large Metro Tote

Minimalist Bags

What Our Experts Say

Minimalist-style diaper bags are perfect if you have a toddler who needs less stuff, are out on a quick errand and don’t feel like taking your regular diaper bag along or have simply mastered the art of light packing. Diaper clutches can double as regular bag and an inside-your-diaper-bag portable changing station, and belt-style packs are great to clip on when you want to tote a few must-haves along but also need your hands free.

What’s Worth Considering

Diaper clutches and waist bags don’t hold a ton. (Although you’d be surprised how much you can stuff into them with some careful folding!) Bags that go over your wrist can be a bit annoying to carry since they’re always tethered to one wrist.

Popular Picks

DockATot Changer Bag, Kibou, Petunia Pickle Bottom Nimble Diaper Clutch, Skip Hop Greenwich Convertible Hip Pack

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