The humble handbag has a rich history, dating back to the earliest known purse, carried by a fashionable fellow known as Ötzi the Iceman. Today, fewer men are carrying purses (although an increasing number are adopting messenger bags and satchels), but women everywhere are lugging huge bags rattling with loose change and dog-eared paperbacks, or at least a little clutch for your wallet and lipstick.
Adding a junior partner to the family firm means that you need to bring a lot more essentials along for the ride: diapers and wipes, a changing pad, a change of clothes, bottles and binkies, snacks, hand sanitizer, a wet bag, toys, and so on. And now, it’s a lot more important to be able to find and grab those items fast: you may have the patience to dig for your phone charger at the bottom of your handbag, but when your baby needs a change, he needs it NOW.
STANDARD DIAPER BAGS
Your typical diaper bag, epitomized by the Skip Hop Duo, is big and full of pockets, with a wide opening to let you easily access everything you need. Some of them are super girly and floral, while others have a more minimalist messenger style like the Little Unicorn Rambler Satchel.
There are also options like the Skip Hop Duet 2-in-1 Diaper Bag, which come with other mini-bags to keep inside, to store and organize different categories of items. You can use the smaller internal bag to keep your own items so if you leave the house sans baby, you have everything you need already in there.
As a woman who carries a tremendous amount of stuff, I’ve used diaper bags as everyday purses for years (hey, I sell baby gear!), and I would caution all diaper bag shoppers to think in advance of how you’re going to use all of those little pockets, and whether they’ll actually be accessible. If the central compartment of the bag is loaded up, a lot of pockets close to the bottom may become useless – items either fall out or are impossible to get to. A little planning can save you serious frustration!
Also: if you choose a messenger-style bag, which hangs from a long crossbody strap and sits on your hip, you can reach into it and grab some items while wearing it. The only issue is the way the weight rides all on one shoulder, which is not great for your back, so keep this in mind if you have back issues!
If you need that weight distributed in a way that’s gentler to your back, a bag like the Skip Hop Forma Backpack Diaper Bag might do the trick: you can carry it hands-free, and the even weight distribution means it won’t be as much of a pain to lug around all day. These bags also have the advantage of being a bit more dad-friendly, since you can find many styles that don’t scream “diaper bag!”
A cautionary note: don’t use a regular ol’ backpack as your diaper bag! Think about how you piled items up in the interior of the single main compartment in your backpack that you used for school – that just won’t do when you need to be able to find baby items. A specialized diaper bag backpack has compartments all over the inside and outside to keep you organized – the Forma Backpack, for instance, has a front compartment with two packing cubes, insulated side bottle pockets, a changing pad pocket (also suitable for your laptop), and elasticized interior pockets.
If you want to split the difference between the typical diaper bag and a backpack, there are some convertible bags out there with multiple strap options – for instance, the Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack can be carried as a tote, crossbody, backpack, or stroller bag.
Or, why not keep the most stripped-down essentials in a separate bag that goes into your regular bag? The Skip Hop Pronto Mini Changing Station is dedicated exclusively to diapering: just the basics, please! You can hang it from your wrist or clip it to your stroller, and it comes with a wipes case and a few pockets for diapers, wipes, and personal items. This is a great option for the minimalist mom who always used to just carry a clutch or just shove her wallet in her back pocket.
While our selection of diaper bags skews towards the simple and modern, dad may want a bag that’s just his. You can choose from a variety of backpack and messenger styles, or bags that resemble briefcases or camping gear, to match dad’s personality.
There are loads of other factors to explore when you’re choosing a diaper bag, so once you’ve gone over these basics, you may want to check out The Ultimate Diaper Bag Guide at Parent.Guide – it’s incredibly thorough. Happy shopping!