In-depth baby product reviews led by a Pediatrician

Best Diaper Bag

We tested the top diaper bags from Ju-Ju-Be, Skip Hop, Storksak, Petunia Pickle Bottom, and others to find the best
The Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. has a simple but stylish look with versatile pocke...
Credit: Abriah Wofford
Tuesday June 22, 2021
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Looking for a diaper bag to compliment your style? We researched over 117 contenders and whittled them down to the 13 top bags of 2021 to compare and test side-by-side. Finding a diaper bag that works for your whole family can be difficult, but essential. Outings with little ones can be much easier and more enjoyable when you feel prepared. We focused on the most pertinent factors such as weight, capacity, organization features, cleaning methods, and more. We provide the pros and cons of each bag, along with our insider buying advice, so you can determine which bag is best for your family, lifestyle, and budget.


1

Best Overall Diaper Bag


Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F.


Dimensions: 14"W x 12"H x 6.5"D | Carry Style: Tote/Backpack
Great quality
Easy organization
Machine-washable
Heavy
Zipper problems

The Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. is a great, smaller tote or backpack with unique organizational features. Not only is there a pocket for everything, but each compartment is well-designed and thoughtfully placed. For some of the bags we have used, the pockets are weirdly sized or not arranged helpfully; however, this is not the case with the Ju-Ju-Be. While it is on the petite side compared to other bags we tested, its strategic arrangement makes it easy to organize your personals and your baby supplies all in one bag. As a bonus, the B.F.F is also machine-washable. We've experienced how messy things can get when carrying food, drink, creams, and even who knows what else. So the fact that you can toss it in the machine and go is something we appreciate.

Despite the smaller size, the Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F weighs in as one of the heaviest options, so you may want to consider how you'll load your bag. Are you an over-packer? Do you need to carry items for multiple children? If this is the case, you could end up weighed down or have difficulty finding enough space in the bag. Also, there are some reports about faulty zippers on the B.F.F. We did not experience this during our testing, but it is something to keep in mind. If you have an issue, the return window is only 30-days, so this isn't a bag you want to purchase ahead of time and wait to use. However, we don't think these faults should deter you from considering this bag. If weight isn't a concern and you value organization over other things, then the B.F.F. should be at the top of your list.

Read the Review: Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F.

2

Best Lightweight Organization


Skip Hop Grand Central


Dimensions: 18"W x 13"H x 6"D | Carry Style: Tote
Very lightweight
Easy organization
Great value
Lacks crossbody strap
Changing pad is lacking

The Skip Hop Grand Central is a cute, inexpensive tote that is exceptionally lightweight. Weighing less than one pound, it is one of the lightest bags we have tested. The lower weight results in less strain on your shoulder when lugging all your baby's stuff. This bag's interior is enormous, and Skip Hop has done a great job providing various organizational pockets to avoid a "black hole" forming at the bottom of the bag. There is also a separate parent pocket that holds all of your personal essentials. When diaper duty days have passed, the bag's large size allows it to seamlessly transition to a weekend tote. We also like that the bag is BPA and phthalate-free, which is advantageous since it will hold pacifiers, cups, and bottles. With all of this at a great price, this option is hard to pass up.

One of the main complaints about this bag is the absence of a crossbody shoulder strap. With how large it is, multiple carry options would be useful to distribute the weight across your body. We also feel that the changing pad is a bit small. While we can assume this is to keep the total bag weight under a pound, it could certainly use an upgrade, in our opinion. However, despite the small changing pad, we think the budget-friendly Grand Central is a versatile bag that will be handy for multiple uses.

3

Best for the Budget Minded


Ruvalino Backpack


Dimensions: 12"W x 17"H x 8"D | Carry Style: Tote/Backpack
Gender Neutral
Affordable
Exceptional organization
Not very durable
Zipper issues

The Ruvalino Backpack is a gender-neutral diaper bag with oodles of organizational features. There are five zippered compartments, and each one features a host of organizational components such as elastic pouches, insulated bottle holders, pen keepers, mesh dividers, and additional inner zippered pockets. Indeed, you will have a place for everything in this backpack. Two outer pockets are large enough to hold a tall water bottle, and one side has a slit opening in the fabric for wipe storage. The shoulder straps are well-padded and comfortable to wear. We appreciate that there are handles on the top of the bag to carry it like a tote when desired.

After a few months of wear and tear, many users run into durability issues with the Ruvalino. The zippers, in particular, are not the strongest, so we recommend not overfilling the pockets. The straps are thick, but there is minimal padding on the bag's rear panel to keep your back comfy. This bag has a very boxy shape, even when it is not full. However, despite these factors, this bag offers organization and functionality at a reasonable price. So, if you're on a budget, we recommend checking out this option, plus we think that both mom and dad will feel happy hauling this backpack around town.

4

Best Bang for Your Bag Buck


Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open


Dimensions: 14.8"W x 14.2"H x 6.2"D | Carry Style: Crossbody/Backpack/Tote
Easy internal access
Well-priced
Good exterior organization
Straps are uncomfortable
Needs more interior pockets

The Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open Backpack diaper bag can easily stay open to help you find your desired items. It has several good-sized exterior pockets, including two large side pockets perfect for your water bottle and cups for the kids and enough space for your essentials as well. This bag is well-made and can transition from tote to backpack, all for a great price.

The backpack straps almost look like a seat belt but a bit thinner. While the material is soft, it isn't padded, which could be uncomfortable. You'll want to ensure it isn't painful, making it a bag you want to try before you buy. Also, while we like the exterior pockets, there is very little internal organization, requiring investing in storage bags to avoid a black hole situation. Nevertheless, given how often you'll reach for items and how often you may only have a single hand for searching, we think the Mainframe is a game-changer for parents who enjoy an open bag they can manage with one hand.

Read the Review: Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open

5

Best Bag for Multiples


Ju-Ju-Be Be Prepared


Dimensions: 18.5"W x 14"H x 6.5"D | Carry Style: Tote/Crossbody
Easy organization
Ergonomic & well-padded
Durable
Heavy
Expensive

The Ju-Ju-Be Be Prepared does precisely what the name implies; it helps you "be prepared" for almost anything. This bag is super spacious and well organized, so you never have to decide whether or not to bring that extra snack or pack of wipes; go ahead and toss it in. There are multiple compartments and pockets to store your baby gear, plus a nice-sized parent pocket. The Ju-Ju-Be puts padding in all the right places to make this large bag more comfortable to carry, whether using it tote style or crossbody. It is an excellent investment if you plan to use it for multiple children, as it is durable with plenty of space. The bag's exterior has a Teflon coating to make it waterproof, and the color won't fade no matter how many times you need to wash it.

This bag is large, and the use of heavier materials makes it one of the heftiest options in our review, weighing 3.5 lbs. While the bag is well-designed, all the extra weight will ultimately end up on your shoulders. While it is one of the pricier options out there, the knowledge that you can use this bag for years helps create value in this product. We recommend this bag for parents who have multiple young children, or even those of us who are just habitual over-packers trying to be prepared for everything.

Read the Review: Ju-Ju-Be Be Prepared

6

Favorite Minimalist Solution


Skip Hop Pronto


Dimensions: 12"W x 8"H x 3"D | Carry Style: Clutch
Small
Large changing pad
Convenient
Minimal storage
Wipe container doesn't seal

The Skip Hop Pronto is a compact changing station perfect for shorter outings or ultra-light packers. Two zippered pockets, one mesh pouch, and a wipe case offer a great organizational system that you can use on its own or as an upgrade to a bag you already have. Many moms love to slip this foldable package into a large tote along with their personal items, so they don't have to carry a purse and a diaper bag. Additionally, the Pronto has a removable changing pad larger than those included with most of the competition.

Unless you are an expert at pairing down, the Skip Hop is unlikely to replace your regular diaper bag. You can only fit the bare minimum of diaper changing supplies in the Pronto, so you should opt for something with more storage if you aren't a minimalist. We also found that the wipes container does not seal completely, allowing wipes to dry out very quickly. Many users complain that the case is also too small and requires frequent refilling. However, this is part of what keeps the system so compact, so we didn't have issues with the size. We think that the Skip Hop Pronto is an affordable accessory to add an element of simplicity to your on-the-go diaper changes.

Read the Review: Skip Hop Pronto

7

Best for the Utilitarian Parent


Bag Nation


Dimensions: 14"W x 17"H x 7.5"D | Carry Style: Backpack
Large
Lots of pockets
Gender neutral
Needs additional bottle holder
Quality control issues

The Bag Nation is a decently sized pack with an attractive price. This gender-neutral backpack is well-organized with 14 multi-sized pockets for all the essentials you may need while away from home. Among these are an insulated bottle pocket, a dedicated wipes pocket, a changing pad, and a sundry bag as part of your purchase. In addition, it has water-resistant fabric, which is useful for spills or wet weather. You can also feel good knowing you are buying a BPA and phosphate-free bag, as well as one that is USA-made. This bag is the least expensive backpack we tested, and there is a lot to like about it.

While the Nation has an insulated pocket for a bottle or sippy cup, it is not large enough to fit an 8 oz bottle with a lid or anything larger. There is no exterior mesh pocket for larger water bottles. Also, there have been some reports of quality control issues with broken straps and frayed material. On the upside, they offer a lifetime guarantee and have fantastic customer service if you need a replacement. If you want a gender-neutral bag that mom and dad will be comfortable carrying around, the Bag Nation could be a top contender.

8

Great for Short Outings


Ju-Ju-Be Helix


Dimensions: 12.5"W x 15"H x 3.5"D | Carry Style: Crossbody
Lightweight
Unisex
Memory foam base
Small volume
Only crossbody wear option

Ju-Ju-Be XY Collection Helix is a great minimalist bag that can easily work well beyond the diaper years. This crossbody style bag is a perfect mix of lightweight design with quality materials. The style and size work great for moms or dads who want a bag that can carry the essentials and not be loaded down. It works well for outings with older kids who don't need as much gear or a parent work bag. It has some extras, such as insulated pockets and a changing pad that makes it functional for infants. We were impressed by the thought that went into the storage and organization of this modest bag, including the memory foam base that can help protect tablets or small laptops.

This bag's design is not intended to carry lots of gear, so if you have a full day planned or multiple kids, you'll likely need a larger bag. Also, it is only a crossbody style, so if you are hoping for a roomy bag with various carry options, this is not the bag for you. But, if you are looking for a small bag for a quick outing where a large bag would be a pain and unnecessary, then the Helix could be the thoughtfully organized essentials carrier you are looking for.

9

Favorite High Volume Tote


Storksak Expandable Tote


Dimensions: 19"W x 13"-15"H x 8"D | Carry Style: Tote/Backpack
Expandable
Large Volume
Changing pad w/pockets
Fewer pockets
Expensive

Storksak Expandable Tote is a unique expandable bag with an innovative design. The exterior tote zippers enable it to expand when you need extra room. When unzipped, it will provide an additional two inches of height to the bag. Because of this, it can become much roomier than most other bags. It also comes with an insulated bottle pouch, a crossbody strap, and a changing pad with pockets. A smallish interior zippered pocket works well for a phone and possibly a wallet, and one exterior pocket and two interior stretch pockets for everything else. The changing pad pockets are super convenient for storing essentials like wipes, diaper cream, and a diaper. It's all you need to grab for a quick change rather than lugging along the entire diaper bag.

Although this bag is roomy, it has fewer pockets than average, which isn't great for organization. In addition, it doesn't offer the same level of convenience that we saw in the competition. Finally, although this is not the most expensive bag in the review, it is on the high end, and we feel the bag is somewhat basic for the price. However, if you are looking for an innovative bag unlike the usual fare, then the Storksak is an enviable option for parents in need of more space.

10

Under-the-Radar Diaper Bag


Petunia Pickle Bottom City Carryall


Dimensions: 13"W x 12"H x 5.5"D | Carry Style: Tote/Crossbody
Superb quality
Long adjustable shoulder strap
Water-resistant material
Limited volume
No insulated pocket

Petunia Pickle Bottom City Carryall is a high-quality tote available with multiple colorful patterns and fun designs. The bag's design makes it a great diaper bag that can transition into a cute handbag when your kiddos outgrow it. There are two carrying options, including real leather tote handles and an optional crossbody strap. Carry style versatility is always useful as people have different likes and body styles. This bag has a zip-down changing station that is great for creating a hygienic changing area when you can't find one. The exterior has a water-resistant coating, so wiping off messes is an easy task.

While the sleek design is appealing to the eye, it has limited interior volume. This product is the smallest in the review, and while it balances its size with multiple interior and exterior pockets, it doesn't hold as much gear as the competition. Also, there are no insulated pockets, which can be a pain when traveling with breastmilk or other items that need refrigeration. You will need to invest in a small cooler bag if you want to keep things fresh with this diaper bag. If you primarily breastfeed and don't need an insulated pocket, then the City Carryall offers versatile carry options with useful features and a waterproof design.

11

Most Eye-Catching Style


Itzy Ritzy Boss


Dimensions: 10.5"W x 18"H x 7"D | Carry Style: Backpack
Stylish
Front zips all the way down
Rubber bottom feet
Heavy
Zipper sticks

Are you looking for a diaper bag backpack that doesn't scream "baby"? The Itzy Ritzy Boss might be your answer. This cute backpack not only looks good, but it also performs well too. It is spacious, with useful organization features and tons of pockets. The main compartment zipper runs down the bag's sides, making the task of looking for items more manageable - score! Plus, since the bottoms of bags can get gross when they sit on the floor of restaurants, bathrooms, cars, or grass, the Itzy Ritzy Boss offers a solution of rubber feet that you can easily wipe down.

Itzy Ritzy uses quality materials. However, this means that the bag is somewhat heavier than several competitors. While this bag weighs a little more, it has padded straps that are more comfortable to wear. There are also some reports of finicky zippers, though we didn't experience this. While the complaints are few, you may want to check your bag's zippers to ensure no returns are necessary. If the zipper is good and you want a backpack, it is hard to go wrong with the Itzy Ritzy Boss, especially its wide mouth main pocket and keep clean feet.

12

Favorite Feminine Backpack


Freshly Picked


Dimensions: 13"W x 15"H x 7"D | Carry Style: Backpack/Crossbody
Feminine style
Multiple carry styles
Roomy with nice pockets
Expensive
Side snaps come undone easily

The Freshly Picked is a stylish faux leather bag that is feminine without being delicate. It has multiple carry styles to fit your mood, including backpack position, crossbody, or purse. It is super roomy and well-designed with multiple pockets (inside and out) to fit everything you need for the day or longer. This bag has huge side pockets that fit a large water bottle or tumbler, a back pocket compatible with a smaller laptop, and interior space with multiple stretch pockets for cups, wipes, and diapers. In addition, the Freshly Picked is durable with materials that wipe clean, something you're bound to appreciate as life with little ones can be messy.

If you are currently on a budget, you may have noticed the high price tag of this gem. However, this bag's higher quality materials and construction may mean it will stand up to daily use and won't need replacing. Also, while the two side snaps at the top of the bag keep it looking sleek, the snaps have a tendency to come undone unexpectedly, which could be bothersome. However, if your budget allows and you need a great bag for the long haul, then the Freshly Picked is one to consider.

13

Roomy Versatility


TWELVElittle Foldover Tote


Dimensions: 13.8"W x 16"H x 6.3"D | Carry Style: Tote/Crossbody/Backpack
Multiple wear styles
Unisex
PVC, BPA, and phthalate-free
Expensive
The strap needs to be more adjustable

TWELVElittle Foldover Tote is a medium-sized tote with a strap that morphs a long carry strap into a shoulder bag as well as a backpack. Its unique style and neutral colors are great for moms and dads who want to share a bag. This bag is roomy and has a cool secret zippered pocket at the bottom of the bag to store your wallet or dirty diapers to keep them separate from the rest of the bag. To top things off, The Foldover Tote is PVC, BPA, and phthalate-free, so you don't have to worry about chemical exposure to pacifiers and bottles.

This bag is an investment with a higher price tag, but it feels durable and should last a long time with a manufacturer warranty for defects. Petite users should note that the backpack strap is the crossbody strap, so adjustability is limited because the padding on the strap gets in the way. However, for taller parents who want to share a tote, this versatile option could be the right choice, especially if one parent wants a backpack while the other prefers a shoulder strap.

With so many kinds of bags to choose from, it is important to look...
With so many kinds of bags to choose from, it is important to look deeper than a fashionable face.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Why You Should Trust Us


Our diaper bag review team consists of parents who've been trapped in a car with a diaper blowout and sick baby while carrying a useless diaper bag. The team lead is Dr. Juliet Spurrier, mother of two and a board-certified pediatrician. Dr. Spurrier has used multiple bags throughout the years and strongly believes that organization is key and more important than style. She researched and selected products for this review that focus on functionality, quality, design, and parents' styles. Senior Review Editor, Wendy Schmitz, is a mom of two that got locked into a pricey bag her husband liked that was far too heavy for her to carry. After a year of frustration and shoulder pain, she realized there had to be something better out there. Both women are driven to find quality bags that make trips with a baby easier and help keep all the supplies you need close and easy to find. The bags in this review reflect the team's 10 years of combined bag experience with their test and research background working at BabyGearLab on all kinds of gear from strollers to bassinets, which gives us a unique hands-on experience with a large variety of bags that you can't find anywhere else.

We spent over 100 hours researching, analyzing, and testing diaper bags to determine the best options. Several important factors such as capacity, weight, ease of use, accessories, style, and quality were used to determine our ranking. Then, we packed the bags full of diapering essentials and evaluated their performance to help you determine which bag is best for your family.

The Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open has plenty of interior space and...
Padded tech pocket for your phone.

Analysis and Test Results


Our analysis details the pros and cons of each product. We looked at over 110 diaper bags and purchased the top 13 for testing. We then spent time testing and comparing the bags individually and side-by-side to give you the information you need to find the perfect bag for you and your family.

Value


You'll likely be carrying a diaper bag in some capacity for at least the first two years of your child's life. Bags go through a lot and can get pretty worn and beaten up depending on your lifestyle and how often they leave the house. Because they act as such a lifeline, we think there is value in spending a little more to get a product with a better chance of seeing you from start to finish with the features you need the most. The Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. is one of the more expensive options in this review. If you are on a tight budget, it may not be the one for you, but if you can swing it or put it on a registry, we think it is worth the price with higher quality construction and features that offer more. If your budget is smaller, we think the Skip Hop Grand Central is a great option with a brand name known for better quality overall. If you are on the strictest of budgets, the Ruvalino Backpack is a good value for what it offers, and if it doesn't last for two years plus, you can purchase a second similarly priced bag and still not spend as much as some of the more expensive products in this review.

The Ruvalino Backpack has enough storage for all the odds and ends...
The Ruvalino Backpack has enough storage for all the odds and ends you and baby need.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Weight


When it comes to finding the right diaper bag, you may not think weight is an important factor, especially with so many other features to consider. However, you'll likely be carrying this bag a lot. When you look at the long list of items in the diaper bag, it is clear to see it will be heavy. Paying attention to the bag's weight and style might mean the difference between a sore shoulder and a happy back.


The Skip Hop Grand Central is the lightest traditional bag we tested at 0.9 lbs; this weight makes it lighter than the closest competitor by more than half a pound. In comparison, the Ju-Ju-Be Be Prepared is a hefty 3.5 lbs. The Skip Hop Pronto is a clutch-style bag and the lightest option at only .75lbs. You should consider how you'll use your bag before settling on your final purchase. Will you take it in the car or bring it on walks? Dropping the bag off at daycare or bringing it on errands? Your bag will carry crucial stuff, so finding the one you are comfortable lugging around is important. If you won't be taking it for long distances, but using it in the car, then weight may be less important in your final decision.

A diaper bag's features and accessories can greatly impact your bag experience. Extra thoughtful features like insulated bottle holders, padded shoulder straps, internal key clips, and bag feet can simplify your routine.

Storage


When searching for the perfect diaper bag, you should consider storage first. By "storage," we mean both the overall capacity and the organization features, including pockets and other things that make locating and storing supplies easier. First-time parents may be surprised by how much stuff they need to haul around for one baby. Here's our list of the typical supplies you'll find in the well-stocked diaper bag of an experienced parent:

The number of supplies you will likely need to carry may be more...
The number of supplies you will likely need to carry may be more than you initially thought. This photo is an example of the essential goods most parents find useful when out and about with baby.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Baby Supplies


  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Rash cream
  • Bag for dirty diapers
  • Changing pad
  • Burp cloths
  • Clothing changes
  • Blanket and/or nursing cover
  • Bottle(s) or sippy cup(s)
  • Binkies and toys
  • Sunscreen
  • Snacks

Parent Supplies


  • Water bottle
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Snacks
  • Wallet
  • Mobile phone
  • Keys
  • Sunglasses
  • Chapstick and sunscreen
  • Reading material or a tablet

A great bag needs to fit all or at least most of your supplies. In addition, the supplies should be easy to access, with the ability to determine when you need to restock the essentials (diapers and wipes). We believe that the most functional bags have exterior pockets for bottles and snacks and compartments for a smartphone, changing pad, diapers, and wipes.

The Storksak Expandable Tote has a large central compartment that...
The Storksak Expandable Tote has a large central compartment that easily fits a boat load of supplies.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Your needs will vary when it comes to storage. For example, you may need a larger bag if you have more than one child in diapers or for overnight and multi-day trips. A large bag like the Ju Ju Be Be Prepared is ideal if you need additional storage, while the Skip Hop Pronto has almost no storage.

The shoulder straps on the Ruvalino are well padded and comfortable...
The shoulder straps on the Ruvalino are well padded and comfortable for long wear.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Use


Your next consideration should be ease of use. Discovering your diaper cream is still in the bag while changing your infant on a public changing table will make you quickly appreciate a well-designed bag where you can retrieve the cream quickly with one hand. We prefer a bag with a bright interior and a wide opening so you can see and access contents easily. We feel bags with deep interiors, narrow openings, and dark linings are akin to locating items in a black hole. It doesn't matter how many pockets a bag offers if you can't see the supplies or quickly find what you need.

The Storksak Expandable Tote's main compartment zips closed to help...
The Storksak Expandable Tote's main compartment zips closed to help keep contents safely inside.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Closures also impact ease of use. Compartments and pockets have a variety of closures, including zippers, snaps, magnets, or Velcro. Zippers are our favorite. In fact, we believe it is essential that your chosen bag has an internal compartment that zips closed. If you leave a pocket open, you can lose items if the bag turns over or upside down. Magnetic closures often do not close or stay closed with a full bag. Nonetheless, our least favorite closure design is Velcro, which we (thankfully) did not encounter in this group.

The front pocket on the Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. has pockets for parent's...
The front pocket on the Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. has pockets for parent's easy access items like a key clip, sunglass pocket and zipper pocket for cards and cash.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Consider Your Needs
Your bag must include a secure place for personal items such as smartphones, wallets, and keys. It can be challenging to carry a purse and diaper bag simultaneously, but you shouldn't need to if you have a great diaper bag. Finding a bag with a parent pocket is useful but often overlooked. Key clips are also useful and prevent your keys from getting lost in the bag (which happens more than you'd think).

Quality and Price


Bag quality is more important than most parents think. Ideally, your bag should last through toddlerhood and unpleasant situations. Your bag purchase is an investment in a useful tool you'll use for years. A broken handle, strap, or zipper could be frustrating when you are out with your baby. We find that inexpensive bags often include lower-quality materials, construction, and function. The cost of two less expensive bags can equal more than one higher-quality option that will last as long as you need. Cheaper bags can have flimsy linings, weak seams, and subpar storage. Even a small bump in price can provide significantly better quality and durability. Our advice? Choose something at a mid-range price. This often buys a quality product that you can use even after your child out of diapers. Of course, high-end bags often have more bells and whistles. If your budget is limited, you can add your diaper bag to your registry.

Materials


Diaper bags manage to get soiled in ways you would never imagine. So, we recommend choosing a product made with materials that are easy to clean and maintain. Smooth, wipe clean linings are excellent, and water-repellent and stain-resistant exterior fabric can save you from some ugly stains. However, a bag you can throw in a washing machine is the bomb. At the very least, you'll want a bag that you can wipe clean inside and outside with a damp rag as spills are inevitable. Honestly, any bag will require some maintenance and upkeep. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for your bag's care instructions to maintain its longevity and best appearance.

The Petunia Pickle Bottom City Carryall is water repellent and stain...
The Petunia Pickle Bottom City Carryall is water repellent and stain resistant.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Diaper bags are more susceptible to microbe growth because they often carry items such as snacks, breastmilk, or even human waste in the form of used diapers. To prevent this type of growth, some manufacturers manufacture products with Agion, a type of antimicrobial finish. This coating is useful in hindering the ability of microbes to spread and grow. Agion is cradle-to-cradle certified, which means it is safe for humans and the environment, which is a bonus. We like having the option to choose an eco-friendly bag; because your baby's belongings will go inside the bag, and babies put everything in their mouths. We encourage parents to choose healthy materials to help limit their family's exposure to chemicals.

In our opinion, bags without Velcro are a big deal. Velcro is noisy and may wake your sleeping baby. It is sticky and may cling to and damage some fabrics. Velcro also wears out much faster than zippered or snap closures. Once the Velcro has stuck to anything and everything, the hooks get clogged and fail to function properly. For these reasons, we recommend avoiding hook-and-loop closures if at all possible.

We do not recommend using polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic (aka vinyl) in anything that might come in contact with a baby or baby products. PVC can be a soft plastic often in the interior of a diaper bag or changing pad linings. The material creates a flexible, water-resistant surface which seems ideal, right? Unfortunately, PVC has some potentially significant health effects.

The Petunia Pickle Bottom City Carryall changing pad folds out from...
The Petunia Pickle Bottom City Carryall changing pad folds out from the front of the bag where two elastic topped pockets can hold all your diapering essentials for easy access.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

To make PVC soft, plasticizers, also known as phthalates, are added during production. There are concerns about the health effects of exposure to plasticizers (phthalates). There are also durability problems with soft PVC as it can harden and crack over time, especially if exposed to lots of sunlight or cold temps. Soft PVC also has a strong chemical smell. Aside from being unpleasant, we prefer not to use products with chemical smells around developing babies and children due to the potential risks. In fact, the Environmental Working Group has a plethora of information surrounding plasticizers and the potential consequences of childhood exposure. "In general, the EU considers many plasticizers safe for use with the caveat that they not be used in children's items." While the subject of chemical plasticizers' effect on health is a very complex one, there are PVC-free products available, and we recommend opting for those whenever possible. The Skip Hop Pronto and Skip Hop Grand Central are two examples.

The Ruvalino Backpack has an internal key clip, a helpful feature to...
The Ruvalino Backpack has an internal key clip, a helpful feature to stay organized.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Try Before You Buy


If possible, we strongly suggest taking your top contender on a test run to make sure it is a good fit. For this test run, gather your essentials, organize them, and see how it feels to carry everything. Pack it around the house for a bit to gauge comfort. See if you can find each of your items quickly and access pockets using one hand. Zip and unzip, clip buckles, and snap snaps. Hold your baby while carrying the bag. If it is uncomfortable during any of these stages, you may want to reconsider. We suggest checking the return policy before purchasing so you don't get stuck with a mediocre bag.

With style options like totes, messenger, shoulder or backpack...
With style options like totes, messenger, shoulder or backpack variations finding a suitable and comfortable product should be easy.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Conclusion


Finding the right diaper bag for your family will depend heavily on your lifestyle, the number of children, and personal taste. Selecting a bag that simplifies and streamlines outings with toddlers and babies is invaluable. Our favorites provide highly functional storage and organizational features, are comfortable to carry, and durable enough to last through the diapering years and beyond. Now that you have a big picture about what is available and what to look for, you can narrow down your options and choose a diaper bag that meets your needs and budget concerns.

Juliet Spurrier, MD & Abriah Wofford