How to Choose a Diaper Bag

Ask any parent or caregiver and they'll tell you that a diaper bag is an essential piece of baby equipment. Since diaper bags come in an overwhelming number of styles, shapes, and prices, you need to decide what's important to you in a diaper bag. Once you have an idea of what you're looking for, choose a bag that appeals to you, is comfortable, and fits within your budget.

1Considering Your Needs

  1. 1Think about who primarily uses the bag. If you're the one who will be using and carrying the bag the most, your needs will be the most important when choosing the bag. If your partner or a caretaker will be using the bag the most, you'll need to ask them important questions about what they prefer in a diaper bag.[1]
    • If you and a partner will be sharing the bag, try to select a bag that you both like using. It's a good idea for you both to shop together.
  2. 2Make a list of the things you want to store in the bag. A list will help you decide how big of a diaper bag you'll need. You'll probably want to store things for your baby such as changes of clothes, burp cloths, or pacifiers. Since you'll probably be carrying the bag a lot, think about what you'd like to have in the bag too. For example, consider storing:[2]
    • A changing pad.
    • A nursing cover
    • Baby bottles or sippy cups
    • Your keys, wallet, and phone
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Sunglasses and hats
  3. 3Look for wide padded straps. It's easy to overload diaper bags so they're heavier than you expect. If you can't remove any of the items and need to carry a heavy diaper bag, ensure the bag has wide padded straps. These will distribute the weight of the bag and make it more comfortable to carry.[3]
    • Some bags have multiple straps while others only have 1 that crosses the body.
  4. 4Find a bag with insulated space for bottle storage. Diaper bags often function as a bottle carrying bag, especially if you're traveling long distances. Look for a bag that has insulation so the bottles stay cool.[4]
    • There should also be elastic bands that hold the bottles in place.
  5. 5Choose a compartmentalized bag to keep organized. If you're storing a lot of small things, the bag should have lots of pouches, zippers, or pockets. Many diaper bags come with a matching changing pad that can be stored on the side or in the bottom of the bag too.[5]
    • If you'll be carrying your cell phone in the bag, look for a phone storage spot that's easy to access.
  6. 6Pick a large, sturdy bag to accommodate toddler needs as well. If you plan to use the diaper bag throughout your child's toddler years, you may need a bag with different features such as zippered pouches for storing snacks or small toys. If you think you'll only want to use the bag while your child is a baby, you might want just a small diaper bag.[6]
    • If you know you'll be diapering more than 1 child at a time such as twins or a new sibling, you might want a bag that you can use for a long time.

2Selecting a Style

  1. 1Pick a messenger style diaper bag if you like a smaller, organized bag. Messenger bags usually have a large strap that drapes across 1 of your shoulders. This makes it easy to access the diaper bag while keeping your hands free. Most messenger bags also have lots of compartmentalized storage so you can keep the bag organized.[7]
    • Some messenger bags may have such individualized compartments. Unfortunately, these might be difficult to use for other things. For example, there may be a pocket for a bottle, but it won't fit other things you might want to store in it.
  2. 2Select a tote if you want a larger bag with lots of space. If you plan on storing a lot of things in the bag, but don't need many pockets or small compartments, look for a diaper bag tote. Totes are great if you know you'll need to throw small blankets, your laptop, or several changes of clothes in the bag.[8]
    • Because it's a larger style, it's easy to overpack a diaper bag tote which will make it very heavy.
  3. 3Choose a backpack if you'd like to balance the weight. Chiropractors frequently recommend diaper bags that you can wear on your back. Backpacks will distribute the weight of the bag evenly across your shoulders which can reduce muscle strain. Backpacks are also a good choice if you're looking for lots of pockets and space.[9]
    • Unfortunately, wearing a backpack will make it difficult if you'll also be wearing your baby in a sling or wrap.
  4. 4Pick a designer back if a luxury bag is important to you. If you'd like a diaper bag that also functions as a fashion statement, look to some of your favorite designers. Designer diaper bags have luxury hardware such as handles, zippers, and tassels and they're often more stylish than standard diaper bags.[10]
    • Keep in mind that many designer bags aren't usually made of machine-washable material, so they may not be as practical as standard bags for every day use.
  5. 5Avoid relying on a stroller diaper bag. You might see rectangular diaper bags designed to attach to the handles of a stroller. While these might seem convenient, you shouldn't primarily use them because the weight in the bag can make the stroller tip backwards.[11]
    • If you do choose to use a stroller diaper bag, don't pack very many things in it so you don't throw the weight of the stroller off.

3Buying the Bag

  1. 1Find a color or pattern you like. You've got lots of options when it comes to picking the look of your diaper bag. Some people prefer bright colors or patterns that really stand out while others want a neutral diaper bag that won't draw attention. If you're sharing the diaper bag, ask your partner what color bag they'd like to carry around.[12]
    • If you plan to use the diaper bag for more than 1 child, try to choose a color or pattern that you won't grow tired of over time.
  2. 2Determine a budget for the diaper bag. Since diaper bags can range in cost from budget to designer, set a budget for how much to spend. This will help you narrow down diaper bags to choose from.[13]
    • Keep in mind that higher-priced bags don't necessarily mean that the bags are of better quality. You can find good diaper bags at discount stores, thrift stores, or specialty shops.
  3. 3Spend time carrying the bags around the store. If you're interested in a bag that you see in a store, put the bag on and carry it around for at least 5 minutes. For a more accurate test of the bag, fill it with items so you can feel how the weight is distributed and if your muscles are strained after carrying the bag for a while.[14]
    • Try several bags and styles so you can compare what you like about them.
  4. 4Read the care instructions on the bag. Since diaper bags frequently get wet or soiled, it's important to learn about how you can wash the bag. Many diaper bags are made from sturdy, stain-resistant material. The bag should specify if you should wipe it clean or if you can wash it in a machine.[15]
    • Remember that if you get a designer bag made of a luxury material such as leather, you may not be able to wash it.