How To Choose a Diaper Bag

woman holding her baby and diaper bag

Once you have a baby, your diaper bag will go everywhere you and your baby go. But first you have to find that perfect diaper bag, be it a comfortable multitasker or a designer backpack diaper bag, that you want to take everywhere with you.

Different Kinds of Diaper Bags

Like computer bags or purses, diaper bags come in different styles, shapes and sizes. Let’s take a look at the most common types of diaper bags and the advantages and disadvantages of each.


Messenger Diaper Bags

Messengers are a traditional diaper bag, and for good reason. The size and numerous pockets make it easy to hold and organize all yours and baby’s day out essentials. You won’t ever have to frantically search for a burp cloth and wipes when your baby starts spitting up in public. And the crossbody strap—most of which are adjustable—lets you securely hold your bag while also making it easy to open up and grab whatever you need while you’re on the move.

Advantages Disadvantages
Easy access One-shoulder carry puts more weight on one side of your body
Slimmer style than totes and backpacks Not as much storage space as backpacks or some tote diaper bags
Great for single day travels
Very dad-friendly

Tote Diaper Bags

A tote diaper bag is just as functional as it is fashionable. It’s simple and convenient to use; just throw it over your shoulder and look down inside while wearing it to get out what you need—just like you do with a tote purse. And these types of diaper bags look the least like a diaper bag. Offered in numerous materials and designs, some may not even realize you’re toting around a diaper bag. Along with their spacious interior, some tote diaper bags even offer exterior pockets and a changing pad.

Advantages Disadvantages
Large opening Bulky
Roomy interior space and compartments Not very dad-friendly
Could double as a work bag Short handles could easily fall off your shoulder when bending over

Backpack Diaper Bags

Backpacks had all the pockets and organization you needed for school, and backpack diaper bags offer you all those handy pockets and organization now for your journey through motherhood. They’re big. They hold a lot of stuff, from your baby carrier to extra clothes, swaddlers, diapers, wipes, bottles, keys and everything in between. And don’t worry about lugging all that stuff around. You not only have the space; diaper bag backpacks also evenly distribute the weight on your shoulders and allow you to be hands free, so you can carry your baby, push a stroller or grab food off the grocery shelves without your diaper bag falling off.

Advantages Disadvantages
Frees your arms and hands Less accessible while carried (need to take it off to get most things out)
Lots of organized storage space Bulky
Pockets, pockets and more pockets
Evenly distributes bag and content’s weight (ideal if you suffer from back pain)
Very dad-friendly

Convertible Diaper Bags

Can’t decide between a messenger, tote and backpack diaper bag? With a convertible diaper bag, you don’t have to. Most are a triple threat, converting into those three different styles, while others convert into at least two of the three common diaper bag types. This flexibility is great if you find one style to be more comfortable or convenient for different outings or want to easily convert between diaper bag types so if mom likes the messenger style and dad likes backpack, you can buy one diaper bag instead of two and everyone is happy to carry it.

Advantages Disadvantages
Versatile May not perform each style’s advantages 100% like a bag made just for that style
Easily converts to meet the different needs for different parenting adventures


Designer Diaper Bags

If you’re a fashionista, a woman who’s ready to be a mom but not quite ready to give up her designer handbags, then designer diaper bags will call to you over the rest. They’re gorgeous, high quality and made by the high-end designer handbag brands you already love, such as Gucci, Chloe, Burberry and more. These bags scream luxury and will make you the envy of all your mom friends—but expect to pay for all that.

Advantages Disadvantages
Luxury style Expensive
High-quality materials and hardware Some can’t be easily washed
Made by trusted designer brands Sacrifice some function for style

The above mentioned diaper bags are the most functional for everyday use. Because of their size (large and medium) and storage capacity, they can be used when going out to lunch, running errands all day and taking a weekend trip to grandma’s house. There are other smaller diaper bags some parents buy, like fanny packs and clutch diaper bags. But because of their small size and ability to only hold a couple of diapers, wipes and maybe a few other small essentials, they’re usually just bought in addition to a larger diaper bag and used for short trips with your baby.

Diaper Bag Features to Look For

black diaper bag

Some diaper bags offer all the bells and whistles. Some keep it simple and just come with the basic features. Here are different features you can typically find in diaper bags and you want to consider having.

Lots of Storage Space

With a newborn, you need all the space you can get to hold plenty of diapers, wipes, extra outfits, etc., along with your on-the-go essentials, i.e. keys, phone, lipstick and a wallet.

Useable and Easily Accessible Pockets

All that baby (and parent) gear you’ll be carrying around, you’ll want to keep it organized. That’s why plenty of both interior and exterior pockets come in handy. Rather than throwing everything inside a bag, pockets let you quickly find just what you’re looking for right when you need it. Now, don’t get me wrong. More pockets don’t necessarily mean you’ll be more organized. You just want to make sure the diaper bag you’re eying has plenty of usable and easily accessible pockets.

Easy to Clean

Spit up, milk and juice spills, smashed snacks, poop, pee—no matter how hard you try, your diaper bag will get dirty. It will likely take a beating from both accidental and purposeful messes, so it’s in your best interest to not buy materials that easily stain and are difficult to clean. Choose a diaper bag that you can quickly wipe clean with a baby wipe or throw in your washing machine.

Gender Neutral

Will other people be using your diaper bag? Your partner? Grandparents? If so, it’s a good idea to choose a diaper bag style that everyone feels comfortable using; one that’s both parent approved and will work for multiple children.

Extra Features

The basics are nice and needed, but as an experienced parent, I’ve learned some of the diaper bag features deemed “extras” are even nicer and more needed than a first-time parent would think. Here are some of those additional features:

  • Insulated bottle pocket(s)
  • Baby wipes pocket
  • Tablet or phone pocket
  • Water-resistant changing pad
  • Stroller clips or straps
  • Feet at the bottom (so your bag doesn’t sit on the ground and get dirty)
  • Keys hook
  • Toy hook

Each parent’s preference is different. Like me, some of the “extra” features may be must-haves for you once you really think about it or start using a diaper bag. Just remember that you know you better than anyone, and you’ll know your baby better than anyone, so you’ll also know what features you really need and/or want.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Diaper Bag

woman holding diaper bag and baby

You’ll use your diaper bag nearly every day from the day your baby is born up through the toddler years. Knowing what you like and what factors matters to you can help make sure you choose a diaper bag you’ll love and actually use. And in case you don’t know yet, here’s a little guidance to help you know what to give thought to when deciding what diaper bag to buy or add to your baby registry:

  • Your personal style and lifestyle
  • Material
  • Weight
  • Functionality
  • Organization
  • Latch (zipper, magnetic clasp, strap and clip and velcro are most common)
  • Amount of space you need
  • How to clean it
  • How you want to carry it
  • Cost

Choosing a diaper bag is a personal choice. What’s right for you may not be right for your sister or best friend. But no matter what kind you get, ultimately choosing the right diaper bag means choosing one that provides comfort, convenience and functionality when you are out and about with kids.

Kirsten Metcalf is a writer, editor and mother to a hilarious but very strong-willed toddler and a beautiful baby girl. She started writing short stories in elementary school and years later became a sports reporter and editor. Now, she mainly writes marketing, religious and parenting-related blog posts. Even before she knew she wanted to be a writer, Kirsten knew she wanted to be a mom. She knows being a mom is one of the most rewarding but hardest jobs out there, which is why she loves being able to share parenting knowledge and support to other moms through her writing. When she actually wins negotiations with her toddler, Kirsten likes to reward herself by watching KU basketball, eating cheesecake, or going on a Target run by herself.