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The newest essential

Way back in 2002, when I had my first daughter, the diaper bag renaissance was still about a year away. My well-meaning husband bought me a Kate Spade diaper bag that unbelievably had no pockets, and my well-meaning mother bought me a Graco diaper bag in the campy French Bears pattern (to match my travel system).

The outlook was pretty bleak, since the Kate Spade was impractical, and I used my travel system (and matching diaper bag) about two times before I banished it all to my basement (do you even need to ask why?). The Kate Spade bag did have an outstanding changing pad, however. So, I ended up repurposing the pad and partnering it with my favorite designer messenger bag. It worked out great.

Today’s parents don’t need to revert to such measures. They have Skip*Hop, Fleurville, Bumble Bags, Loom, and about a hundred other great choices, each with parent-friendly design elements and fashion-forward sensibilities. And yet. At the last industry trade show, we saw a sharp trend towards simple, fold-and-go changing pads that were funky, chic and incredibly convenient.

As I see it, there are a few factors behind this trend. First, some parents really do like using a non-diaper bag for their kids. This sort of product will make it really easy to convert any bag into a great diaper bag. Second, although new parents need to schlepp around a ton of stuff, once the baby is older, the load gets a lot lighter. There’s no need to lug around a huge bag anymore, and this is a great alternative. Last, let’s be honest. I’ve lost a couple of changing pads over the years (but never my beloved Kate Spade), and I doubt if I’m alone. If you need to replace a changing pad from your diaper bag, this is a good investment.

We ordered a couple of variations on this theme, but the first to hit our shelves is the JJ Cole Essentials Changing Pad & Tote. This sturdy, vinyl-lined pad folds over into a cute purse shape, and features three strategically placed pockets that will hold wipes and even a diaper or two. The stripes feel fresh and fun, and the price is right, at under $20. Watch for a Skip*Hop model, coming soon.

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