There are many types of diaper bags, including backpack, messenger, and tote styles—the three most popular. Most come with a padded mat for changing a baby’s diaper on the go.
A backpack diaper bag looks like a regular backpack but with extra pockets to hold wipes and changing pads, among other items. The Travel Baby Depot Bag, for example, gives you tons of room to stash your stuff and distributes the load on your shoulders evenly.
The messenger-style bag (sometimes also referred to as sling style) has one strap and can be carried on a shoulder or across your chest. They are often designed with dads in mind, but you can find them in almost any variation, from unisex to floral. Storksak’s Jamie bag has an adjustable shoulder strap, is big enough to hold a laptop, and has plenty of pockets, including insulated ones for bottles.
A tote-style looks like an overgrown handbag. Like other bags, some include extra pockets and space for cell phones and more. Some tote styles, such as the Ju-Ju-Be BFF bag, come with detachable straps so you can turn it into a backpack or messenger bag, or simply grab the tote handle on the top. Other tote styles look even more like large pocketbooks, such as Petunia Pickle Bottom’s high-end Cosmo Carryall, made with Italian cut velvet. It has large handles, just like a fashionable purse.
Stroller Handlebar Bags: A Bad Idea
Another variation, sometimes called a “stroller diaper bag,” is basically a tote-style but designed with longer straps to fit on the back of a stroller’s handlebars. Models are available for double strollers as well as single. Some of these stroller bags have clips. Manufacturers are adding stroller strap-on mechanisms to other styles as well, such as the OiOi hobo-style bag mentioned below. You can buy separate clips to fasten any bag to your stroller.
Consumer Reports advises against hanging anything on the handlebar of a stroller because the weight might cause the stroller to tip backward. The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association agrees.
Linda Woody, communications manager for the association, says that if you plan to use a larger bag or purse, you should choose a stroller that can safely carry them in a basket, not on your stroller’s handlebars. “We recommend that parents don’t hang pocketbooks, diaper bags, or shopping bags over the handles of the carriage or stroller.
“You want to use the shopping basket underneath the stroller and make sure it is low on the back of the stroller or directly over the rear wheels,” Woody says.
She says there are so many types of carriages and strollers on the market that parents should look for one that fits their needs. But she adds that many convertible strollers will often have a basket underneath where a diaper bag can easily be placed. (Convertible strollers are used with an infant car seat that can be changed to carry a child once they outgrow it.)
Other Styles and Trends
Hobo bags mimic the style from handbag fashionistas. The OiOi hobo diaper bag, for example, has one main internal compartment and a shoulder strap with an adjustable buckle.
Convertible bags, such as the Ju-Ju-Be BFF, come with a handle and a removable sling strap and backpack strap so you can use it in whatever mode is most convenient.
If you want wear your baby gear around your waist like a carpenter belt, you can get a fanny-pack style, like the Mia Bossi MB601 Tobey Diaper Bag.
Some sling-style bags are designed to be smaller for quick outings. Like a messenger bag, it has a strap that can cross your chest, but because it’s compact it can fit snugly.
Last and least are mini bags, which are made to fit inside something else. They look like a small handbag or clutch, such as the Cross Town Clutch by Petunia Pickle Bottom or the Amy Michelle Poppy Chic Diaper Clutch.
As you’re realizing by now, there are enough different types of diaper bags on the market right now to warrant their own edition of “Project Runway.” Parents can choose one that looks practically professional, a mod messenger bag, a hike-worthy backpack, a small sling, such as the Mothers Minder Sling Bag, or a tiny “changing purse” such as the clutches mentioned above. Some bags hold only a few diapers and are made for quick outings; others are big enough for a four-day getaway, with zippers to let you expand the bag when you need more room.
Before you’re seduced by all the choices in shape, style, fabric, and fashion, think about where you’ll be bringing the bag and what will work best for you. An imported Italian leather fanny-pack style like the Mia Bossi Tobey might look chic when taking a walk to a local coffee shop, but you’ll want something more substantial for a day trip, when you need to pack an extra outfit for your baby, your cell phone and wallet, and a day’s worth of juice boxes or formula.
Practicality is paramount, but a diaper bag can still be a fashion accessory. If you want that silk-covered bag with great graphics and colors, just make sure the interior is nylon or microfiber so you can clean up after the wet diapers and spilled milk. Ju-Ju-Be bags, for example, are machine washable, have light-colored interiors that make it easy to see inside, and are easy to wipe clean. Plus they’re treated with an antimicrobial finish. In the mood for a bag with a camouflage design, your alma mater’s insignia, or even a skull and flames? It’s all out there. You can also easily find something more subdued but modern, like stripes or polka dots. You’ll have to look a bit harder for those old-school, sweet-and-innocent designs like butterflies or Winnie-the-Pooh, but they can be found, too.
From Budget to Deluxe
Prices range from $15 for a low-end fabric or vinyl model to as much as $500 and up for well-appointed designer bags. Here are more specifics about what you’ll find in each price range.
The Lowdown on the Low End
At $35 or less, these might skimp on quality and durability, leaving you with a zipper that won’t zip or a bag that is quickly frayed and needs to be replaced. If you expect to have more kids and want diaper-bag shopping to be a one-shot deal, spending a little more (in the upper end of the $35-to-$100 range) will get you a good-quality bag that might last through several years of Sesame Street.
If value is what you’re after, midpriced models (in the $35-to-$100 range) offer the best mix of sound construction and generous storage. The best bags can be wiped clean inside and out because gunk tends to accumulate on all surfaces. They also have lots of Velcro or zippered pockets, which can help you stay organized. More at http://bestrateddiaperbags.com/choose-best-diaper-bags-men/.
High-End, Haute, and Hip
Many of the top names in fashion have jumped into the diaper-bag business, as they have with baby clothing. So if you want to make a statement with yours, you can. Just be prepared to pay for it. The Addison Op Art Baby Bag by Coach, for example, will set you back $500. The Mia Bossi Maria Chocolate is a couture bag with distressed Italian leather that goes for $600.
You’re apt to get a good-quality bag, but make sure it’s the type you want and has all the Features (such as durable fabric and closures and double seams) you seek. Think washable, wipeable, and waterproof. You might want to avoid a bag that requires dry cleaning.