From diaper bag backpacks to machine-washable options, here are the best diaper bags to stash those baby (and mama!) essentials.
With a little planning and some thought, a diaper bag can be a mom’s best friend. You know, the friend who always has a spare quarter for the parking meter that only takes coins, the one who has a breath mint ready to go after a lunch date, or a spritz of hand sanitizer after an outing? That kind of friend.
Your diaper bag is your “Mary Poppins” go-to kit to help out in any sort of adventure you may counter while out of the house with baby. A good, organized diaper bag can not only offset some of the stresses of motherhood, it can be a fashion statement
What to Look for in a Diaper Bag
Before you start clicking away on any diaper bag purchases, there are some things you may want to keep in mind to help you find just the right diaper bag for your lifestyle. Take a closer look into the diaper’s bag:
- Function: What’s the purpose of your diaper bag? Will you be using it to transport little one’s stuff from daycare and back home or will it primarily be with you the whole time? Are you a suburban mom who uses your own car to get around (and thus have a place for back-ups and emergency changes) or are you a city gal whose baby transport mainly consists of the stroller?
- Size: Think about your current, everyday purse. Are you they type that packs something “just in case” or are you more of a minimalist mom? Does the thought of lugging around a carry-on sized diaper bag reduce your stress or does it make your back hurt just thinking about it?
- Fabric: Sure, that diaper bag may look cute but can you toss it in the washing machine? Is it the type of material that can take a beating for a couple years? (Keep in mind: chances are you will be using some form of diaper bag until the kiddo is out of diapers…and then some.) And what about that adorable flower design you have your heart set on? Will your partner be carrying this bag too? They might have different opinions.
- Design: Just like on clothing, pockets tend to be a mom’s best friend when it comes to diapers as well. Does your bag have enough of them and are they in convenient locations? Is there a place where you can stash a baby bottle and keep it warm? What about pouches? A changing pad? Do you need the diaper bag to provide them or will you provide your own?
- Straps: Do you favor a backpack, a tote, or want the option of both? The key questions about straps are: how many and where? Many moms find it beneficial to have the option to shoulder carry and backpack carry, so having a several types of straps is a plus. Other moms find excess straps to get in the way. Will you be attaching the diaper bag to your stroller frequently? Then you might consider a bag with stroller straps (or buying stroller straps as an accessory).
- Ease of cleaning: Seeing as this bag will be going along with you to most places baby goes along with you including, ahem, public restrooms, having an easy-to-clean diaper bag is imperative. If it’s not machine-washable, does it wipe down easily? Is it made with antimicrobial fabric? Is it stain resistant? These are just a couple questions to consider.
- Users: Sure, it’s a diaper bag and the diapers are for your little one, but it’s also a bag for mom and dad too. Keep in mind that this bag will most likely also serve as your purse too. Does your bag have room for some “mom space” where you can keep some go-to essentials?
Do You Really Need a Diaper Bag?
The short answer is yes. While it doesn’t have to be a designer bag right off the runway, you will need some sort of bag to hold baby essentials. Whether you are a minimalist mom who only needs a clutch or a “ready for anything” mom of multiples who needs something bigger, a diaper bag is an integral part of going on an outing with baby.
Another thing to think about is that you may want multiple diaper bags. Some couples prefer to keep their own diaper bags. Some moms have a diaper bag for short car trips and another larger one for longer outings. While there are tons of diaper bags to choose from, the upside is that there are diaper bags in all styles now to fit every occasion, from hiking with baby to attending a wedding. And if this diaper bag is going to replace your handbag from now on, why not have it represent your style?
Truly Mama’s Picks for the Best Diaper Bags
- Dimensions: 16” L X 8” W X 14” H
- Fabric: Phthalate-free, PVC-free
- Spot clean or hand wash cold using a mild detergent & dry flat
- Best for: Parents on the go who need their hands free and a little help to stay organized
“I really love this bag, it’s perfect for me! For a changing bag, I need lots of different pockets/storage as I hate rummaging through a rucksack trying to find everything! The two pods in the front pocket are perfect storage for anything, I have a change of clothes in 1 and all my creams, tissues, spare breast pads etc. in the other. It has two pockets on the side for bottles/water bottles and the inside of the bag is huge and perfect for nappies, wipes, snacks etc. Can fit enough disposable or cloth nappies and wipes in etc. and comes with a changing mat for when you’re out and about which is great as I kept forgetting to pack my other mat before I got this bag. Would definitely recommend!” (Amy Bennett, Amazon Review)
- Dimensions:02 H X 7.09 W X 16.9 D
- Fabric: Polyester
- Best for: Sporty parents on the go; great for parents who want a diaper bag to attach to the stroller
“Seriously, as a father and carrier of diapers, bottles, toys, burp cloths, changing pads, pacifiers, socks—I so wish I had known about this backpack before even the first kid. Now with a third child on the way, I can say: if you are tired of the HUGE bags you have to lug over your shoulder and in one zip the child can completely empty…This is the bag for you…” (Amazon Review)
- Dimensions: 13″ H x 15″ W x 8″ D
- Fabric: Vegan leather, spot clean-only
- Best for: Parents who value both sleek style and practicality
“I’ve had this bag for over 3 years. It’s been through 2 kids and I use it every day. It has so many pockets inside and tons of storage room for all your littles necessities. The leather holds up really well and wipes off easily. The original size and the mini are perfect staples if you’re looking for the perfect backpack bag.” (Review on Nordstrom.com)
- Dimensions: closed: 11.75” L x 4” W x 8.25” H; Changing Pad: 23.5” L x 21.75” W
- Fabric: Polyester; spot clean with mild detergent
- Best for: Turning any bag into a diaper bag, minimalist moms
“Works great. I now use this instead of lugging around a diaper bag (I leave that in the car) for my 8-month-old. It holds about 3 diapers, 1 onesie and pants, diaper cream, hand sanitizer, small stack of wipes and a couple small plastic bags for dirty diapers” (K.G., review on Amazon.com)
- Dimensions:80” H x 4.30” W x 11.20” D
- Fabric: 100% Polyester, wash separately
- Best for: Strolling parents, no-nonsense parents who want optimal organization with the smallest footprint
“Very nice looking bag, versatile–can be hung from handlebar (without hooks) or on the back of the stroller seat (came with attachable Velcro hook adaptors for hooking to back of stroller seat). Definitely holds more than I expected – no need for a diaper bag with this thing. I’ve used it on many different brands of strollers and even on our wagon! It’s AWESOME!” (Amber, Amazon Review)
- Dimensions: 10.5 x 7 x 18 inches
- Fabric: Faux leather and polyester/wool blend
- Best for: parents who prefer a backpack diaper bag; multi-child families (this bag is pretty big!), or someone who just appreciates a stylish piece of baby gear
“I absolutely adore this diaper bag backpack. I didn’t discover the joy of a backpack diaper bag until my last baby and let me just say: life-changing. It’s been invaluable to be able to wear this as a backpack while wrangling all of my kids, including a baby and now toddler who has been super high-needs. I was a full-time pumping and bottle-feeding mom and this bag was roomy enough for me to stash everything in it and I LOVED the insulated bottle holder that was conveniently open on the side so I had easy access when I needed it. Plus, the rubber bottom that allows the bag to stand up straight without falling over is a feature I never knew I needed until I had it.” — real-life review, Chaunie B.
What to Pack in Your Diaper Bag for Your Baby
When packing your diaper bag, remember the following essentials for your baby:
- Formula (can be helpful, even it’s just as a back-up)
- Toy wipes
- Pacifier and holder
- Hand sanitizer
- Extra change of clothes (one size too big is fine)
- Burp cloth
- Infant medication, including Infant Tylenol, Infant Motrin, and EpiPen Jr., if your child has any allergies
- Snacks for mom
- Blanket (muslin blankets are versatile and don’t take up a lot of space)
- Nursing cover/car seat cover
- Diapers (1 more than you think you’ll need)
- Diaper rash cream
- A toy (not too many, optional)
- Disposable placements
- Plastic bags (essential for those poop blow-out situations)
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you really need a diaper bag?
If you ever plan on leaving the house, then yes. You may not need your mother’s animal-print diaper bag of the past, but you need some kind of bag to carry at least a few essentials, like diapers and wipes to get you from Point A to Point B.
Can I use a normal backpack as a changing bag?
Yes, but like everything, baby makes you adapt, so that favorite bag you have may need some help. Lack of pockets, specialty areas like coolers made for bottles and clips for strollers and changing pads may be an issue and are what give diaper bags an upper hand, but you can also purchase those things to add to your bag if you like.
Are Skip Hop diaper bags machine-washable?
Skip Hop suggests that you wipe down their bags with a damp cloth and mild detergent and air dry. They do not recommend putting your bags in the washing machine.
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