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One of the most surprising things about parenting is just how much stuff you have to carry around for such a small baby. A roomy diaper bag with plenty of open and zippered pockets for organization is a lifesaver. It can mean the difference between feeling like you're lugging around a ton of bricks and barely noticing you're carrying an extra bag at all.
Needless to say, you'll find hundreds, if not thousands, of diaper bags in stores and online, so how do you know which one is best?
At BestReviews, we have the information you need to pick the perfect diaper bag for you. We've done the research, so you don't have to.
We analyze data, poll real customers, and talk to experts. And we never accept free products from manufacturers, so you can trust what we have to say.
The shopping guide below will tell you everything you need to know about diaper bags.
When you're ready to buy a diaper bag, check out the product matrix above, featuring our top five picks for the best diaper bags around.
Let’s take a look at the three main types of diaper bags: tote, messenger, and backpack. Each type has its pros and cons. Choose the style that works best for you in terms of comfort, ease of use, and design.
Tote diaper bags are like large handbags or tote bags and are designed to sit on one shoulder. Although they're not always the most practical option if you do a lot of walking, they're popular and come in many materials and patterns.
Large and roomy interiors
Come in a wide range of colors and styles to suit all tastes
Have big compartments that can fit a lot
Can be bulky
Not always possible to carry hands-free
Handbag-style design might not be suitable for all parents
Active parents who do a lot of walking may find tote diaper bags too cumbersome.
Messenger diaper bags are worn crossbody. The strap sits on one shoulder and the bag sits around the hip on the opposite side of the body.
Suitable design for parents of all genders
Tend to be slimmer and less bulky
Easy to access the bag without having to put it down
Can be too small, especially if carrying gear for more than one child
Fewer high-fashion designs available
Messenger diaper bags come in unisex styles, perfect for mixed-gender couples to share.
A non-traditional but hugely practical option is a backpack diaper bag. Not always the most stylish option, backpack diaper bags are ideal if you value function over fashion.
Large enough to fit everything you need
Less likely to cause back pain as the weight of the bag is evenly distributed
Both hands-free at all times
Inaccessible unless taken off your back
Can be unwieldy to wear
Look for a diaper bag with a couple of elasticized pockets on the outside. They're perfect for storing items you want easy access to, like bottles, sippy cups, or your phone.
We can't stress it enough: a diaper bag needs storage, storage, and more storage. And we don’t just mean space in the bag; we mean organization, too. You need plenty of pockets and sections to pack everything needed for both your baby and you.
For the Baby:
Bottles or sippy cups
A change of clothes
A wet bag for soiled diapers or clothes
A couple of toys/comfort blankets
A small first-aid kit
Hand sanitizer for before and after diaper changes
Some tote diaper bags come with a removable strap so they can be worn crossbody when you need both hands free.
Here are some factors that determine how easy a diaper bag is to use:
How Wide It Opens
You want a diaper bag that opens wide enough to see and grab any items in the main body of the bag as soon as it’s unzipped. This will make a huge difference when trying to change your baby one-handed in a public restroom, for example.
Easy-Access Pockets and Compartments
A range of zippered and non-zippered pockets and compartments is best. Compartments with zippers will keep important items from falling out if the bag tips, whereas compartments with snaps or elastic are easier to get into with one hand.
Avoid pockets fastened with Velcro. They have a range of drawbacks, the most notable being that Velcro is loud enough to wake a sleeping baby.
The Color of the Lining
A light-colored lining makes items easier to find, as some objects are hard to spot against a dark background.
You might be carrying around your diaper bag for hours at a time. And it's likely to be relatively heavy when stuffed with everything you need for your child and yourself. Comfort is key. Look for bags with padding in the straps for extra comfort. Every parent has his or her own preference here – some find backpacks the epitome of comfort, whereas others find them annoying to carry – so go with what suits you.
Finding a diaper bag that’s comfortable to carry is, in our opinion, one of the most important considerations. Don't be afraid to try a few different bags until you get it right.
With everything you need to carry, a diaper bag gets heavy quickly. That's why you want a bag that's lightweight when empty.
Don’t add unnecessary pounds to your load with the weight of the bag itself. The lightest diaper bags weigh less than a pound, and we've seen some as heavy as five or six pounds.
Unless weight isn't a factor for you, we recommend picking a diaper bag that weighs three pounds or less when empty.
Avoid diaper bags designed to hang or clip on the back of a stroller. The extra weight could cause the stroller to tip backward.
The trick is to choose a diaper bag that's big enough to fit everything you need without being too big. If you get a bag that's bigger than you need, you could fill it up with unnecessary junk and end up lugging around half your bodyweight. Consider whether you're a minimalist, who only wants to carry the bare essentials, or a "just in case" person who likes to be prepared for anything.
From basic black unisex styles to designer diaper bags that look like the hottest oversized handbags, you'll find all kinds of colors and styles on the market. While we wouldn't recommend style to be your only consideration, it doesn't hurt to pick a diaper bag you like the look of. After all, you might be carrying it for several years. And just because you’re a mom or dad doesn’t mean you have to stop being chic.
A diaper bag is essentially your new bag, too. Your baby's not going to mind what it looks like, so choose a color and style that you like.
An inexpensive diaper bag will cost you $10 to $40. While this is perfect for anyone on a tight budget, you do get what you pay for. The quality won't be high, and it may start to fall apart after only a couple of months.
You can find some excellent diaper bags in the mid-range bracket. Expect to pay $40 to $100, but know that you'll get a high-quality bag that should last until your little one is out of diapers.
The most expensive diaper bags often come with a designer label. Of course, if you spend $100+ on a diaper bag, you should end up with a beautiful bag that will last the duration. However, if style is not a big factor for you, an expensive diaper bag without a designer name attached is unlikely to be significantly higher quality than one that costs $80 or $90.
Q. What's the best type of diaper bag?
A. Each type of diaper bag has its pros and cons (see above). So it depends which type you find most comfortable, easy to carry, and visually appealing. However, if you suffer from back problems, we recommend a backpack diaper bag, as the weight of the bag is distributed evenly over both shoulders and is less likely to cause or exacerbate back pain.
Q. Should I choose a diaper bag that comes with a built-in changing mat?
A. Some parents find built-in changing mats to be an excellent feature, whereas others think they're just an extra thing to carry. Think about whether you're likely to find yourself in a place that doesn't have proper baby-changing facilities, and whether you'd want a changing mat or you'd be happy to make do. For some people, the convenience of having a changing mat isn't worth the inconvenience of having to carry it around.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.