How to Choose a Diaper Bag: 9 Considerations

Posted by Jane Springston on

As a new mom, you’re probably wondering what you should be looking for when choosing a diaper bag. Of course you want it to be stylish and to fit your personality, but most importantly it needs to be functional. And though bigger might seem better with all of the stuff your little guy or gal is going to need, that’s not necessarily best for every family. 

Here we’ll cover what you’ll want to think about before making your diaper bag purchase, along with a few recommendations of ones we think come out on top in some of these categories. 

Top 9 Considerations When Choosing a Diaper Bag

Who knew a diaper bag would be a product you’d need to research so much?! Just remember, you’re going to be using this on the daily for the next year and then some, so you want to get it right. As you read our top 8 considerations, think about what’s most important to you as well as what you want your on-the-go lifestyle to look like with your little one in tow. 

1.) Bag Size

I ended up with a very stylish-looking, yet large diaper bag for my first baby. I wanted to make sure it could fit everything I ever might need to put in it. Problem with that was that I would literally end up just bringing everything I possibly could and that made the bag very heavy! On top of that, it was close to impossible to find what I needed within any sort of normal timeframe. 

But you don’t want to go too small either, or you’ll end up not being able to bring along the items you really need to have for your baby. 

Our recommendation is to with a medium sized bag, perhaps erring on the side of a bit bigger. This way you won’t overdo it and it will still fit everything you need such as:

  • Several diapers
  • Package of wipes
  • Bottle
  • Portable Bottle Warmer
  • Burp Cloth
  • Bib
  • Jar(s) of baby food/pouches
  • Change of baby clothes
  • Thin blanket/nursing cover
  • Pacifier  

RELATED: Top 10 Diaper Bag Essentials for a Newborn

2.) Number and Type of Pockets

It’s important to get the right size bag, but it becomes really hard to use when it doesn’t offer functional and usable space. I’ve seen diaper bags that just have several large pockets and when that’s the case, everything just ends up in a mish mash inside. Pay attention to what kinds of pockets the bag has and think about what you would put inside each one to stay organized.

Special types of pockets to consider:

  • Bottle/water bottle 
  • Portable Bottle Warmer
  • Laptop 
  • Phone 
  • Insulated 

The Birch Bag from Parker Baby gives plenty of pocket options without there being random extras that you don’t need.

3.) Carrying Style

Comfort and accessibility are the biggest factors to consider when choosing which carrying style will work best for you. You don’t want to end up with something that hurts your shoulder or your back. Not only is this not safe for you but you won’t want to use it, either. We recommend getting something that is easy enough to carry while also carrying your baby. 

  • Messenger/Tote - Messenger or tote-style diaper bags look great and work well if you don’t have a lot to carry. It’s easy to access what you need, but it can really do a number on your shoulder if the strap isn’t padded well or you have too much stuff in your bag. Additionally, if you’re like me and always carry your baby and purse on the same side, you end up weighing one side of your body down even more and that do a number on your back. 

  • Backpack - The backpack-style diaper bag has gotten really popular, and for good reason! It’s incredibly easy to carry and frees up both your arms and hands. Whereas designs used to be much more purse-like, we all wised up and realized how many of those options aren’t conducive to carrying a baby around. They definitely don’t look like your grade-school backpack any longer!

  • Convertible - This is a fun option that gives the best of both worlds. It’s always nice to be able to choose! On days you’re traveling light or not going far, the messenger option will do, while longer outings requiring more stuff will likely go smoothly when you’re using the bag as a backpack. The Pivot Pack from Petunia Pickle Bottom easily converts from a backpack to a tote.

  • Fanny Pack or Wristlet - Most parents probably won’t be able to get away with this style early on, but as your baby gets a little older and you’re in more of a routine, you’ll be less likely to end up needing to be prepared for a “surprise.” Though we don’t recommend this small option as your main bag, it can be great for quick trips into the store or as an option when you can store items in a stroller.

4.) Changing Pad

Most diaper bags these days come with a changing pad, but you don’t want to just assume. Of course you can buy your own, but then that’s just one more thing to purchase. I loved the second diaper bag that I had from Petunia Pickle Bottom because the changing pad was velcro attached to the bag and just folded out. I love the convenience of this!

The Boxy Backpack is an example of one that has this clever, detachable design!

5.) Feminine or Unisex

You may lean toward the fashion forward options that will look great with all of your outfits, and that’s totally fine! You should definitely love the bag that’s going to be a part of your daily ensemble - just as you would any purse you might choose!

But you may want to think about if you plan to have your significant other use this diaper bag as well. Your baby daddy may not care what the bag looks like, or he may care a lot! Only you can know. And it’s possible he may even want his own, in which case, we recommend checking out the very dad-friendly ones from Tactical Baby Gear.

Otherwise, you can probably both compromise on a backpack style that offers a more subdued look.

6.) Ease of Cleaning

When I had my first baby, I was all about trying to find a diaper bag that resembled a large purse. Looking back now, I’m not sure who I think I was fooling! But I even considered buying a large purse and I’m very glad that I didn’t. A diaper bag ends up getting way messier than a purse and are typically made to withstand spills, etc. 

Make sure to go for the diaper bag that has an easy-to-wipe inside and outside and you may even want to go for one that you can easily throw in the washing machine. There are some darling faux leather diaper bags, but this won’t be an option if that’s what you choose. Luckily, those are usually pretty easy to spot clean with a bit of soap and water. (A leather bag on the other hand, is something you’ll need to be much more careful with.)

Mom Love Best has some great ideas for keeping your diaper bag looking (and smelling) brand new.

7.) Price

For most of us, we have a budget when it comes to buying everything needed to prepare for a baby on the way. There are so many darling products for babies and the coolest gadgets, but we have to narrow down what we want to spend our money on. Though a diaper bag is essentially a need, they do come in a range of prices. 

We think a diaper bag is a pretty fun item to splurge on if you can, and chances are you’ll be using it everyday and likely for any siblings who may come along - making it worth spending a little extra. On the other hand, if you’re someone who always loves the next new thing and knows you won’t be holding on to the diaper bag for too long, you may want to go with something a little less expensive. Skip Hop has a great assortment that won’t break the bank! 

RELATED: Cool Baby Gadgets Parents Will Want in 2021

8.) Base/Bottom of the Bag

This may seem unimportant, but you’ll want to choose a bag that stands up on its own that also has a bottom that you’ll be ok with setting on the ground. You will find yourself constantly setting down your diaper bag and you don’t want to have to worry about it tipping over or getting grimy. This is yet another reason why you want to choose a diaper bag that is easy to clean. 

9.) Hooks/Attachability

It feels like some diaper bag designers thought of everything, and it’s pretty cool to see how some of these bags clip right on to your stroller or a shopping cart. Though we don’t see this as a must, it’s certainly nice to have. You can also find bags that have handles that will easily slip around your stroller’s handles. We love the Indi Diaper backpack from Dagne Dover for this reason!


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