In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

The Best Diaper Bag Review

The Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. has a simple but stylish look with versatile pocket options.
Friday June 15, 2018
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Which diaper bags are the best? We considered a variety of top products and narrowed it down to 15 contenders to compare side-by-side to determine which options are the best. We reviewed pertinent factors such as bag weight, how much it can hold, organization features, cleaning methods, and more. Finding the perfect diaper bag can be a critical part of making outings with your little ones a bit easier. Keep reading to find out the pros and cons of each product, along with helpful buying advice, so you can determine which option is best for your family and your wallet.


1

A Place for Everything


Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F.


Editors' Choice Award

$141.59
(21% off)
at Amazon
See It

Dimensions: 14"W x 12"H x 6.5"D | Weight: 2.8 Lbs.
Great quality
Easy organization
Machine-washable
Heavy
Zipper problems

The Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. is a great, smaller tote or backpack diaper bag with amazing organization features. Not only is there a pocket for everything, but the pockets are well-designed. Often bags have pockets that are unusual sizes or not arranged in helpful ways. Not so with this bag. While it is more petite than some of the others in this review, it's thoughtful arrangement make it is easy to find a place for all your supplies and your little one's belongings. This bag is also machine-washable. We've seen how things can get messy carrying food and drink, and creams and dirty diapers. It's great knowing you can toss it in the wash to get everything clean.

Coming in as one of the heaviest bags we tested, you may want to consider how you'll be loading your bag. Are you an over packer? Will you be carrying items for more than one child? If so, you may end up weighed down, or have difficulty finding enough space in the bag. Also, there are several reports of faulty zippers on the B.F.F., and while we did not experience it, it is something to keep in mind. If you do have an issue, there is only a 30-day return window, so this isn't a bag you want to purchase and wait to use. If weight isn't a concern and you want an easy to organize bag, the B.F.F. could be top of your list.

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

2

Great Organization in a Light Package


Skip Hop Grand Central


Skip Hop Grand Central
Editors' Choice Award

$89.99
at Amazon
See It

Dimensions: 18"W x 13"H x 6"D | Weight: 0.9 Lbs.
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 extremely lightweight. Weighing less than one pound, it is the lightest bag in the review. This lower weight results in less strain on your shoulder when lugging all of baby's stuff. This bag is big, but they have done a great job providing multiple organization pockets to avoid a "black hole" from forming at the bottom of the bag. There is also a separate mommy pocket that can hold all of your essentials. When you are done using it as a diaper bag, it can transition perfectly into a weekend tote. You can also enjoy that the bag is BPA and phthalate free, which is an advantage since you'll be storing pacifiers, cups, and bottles in it. With all of this at a great price, it's hard to beat.

One of the main complaints about this bag is the absence of a crossbody shoulder strap. With how large the bag is, it is nice to have the option of distributing the weight across your body instead of carrying it in your hand. Some users grab a strap from another bag or have purchased one to clip on where the stroller clips go. Also, the changing pad is a bit slim and thin. While we can assume this is to keep the total bag weight under a pound, it could certainly use an upgrade. Despite the weak changing pad, we think the budget-friendly Grand Central is a lightweight, versatile bag you can find multiple uses for.

3

Utilitarian Pack for Long Outings


DadGear Backpack


Editors' Choice Award

$99.99
at Amazon
See It

Dimensions: 12"W x 18"H x 10"D | Weight: 2.6 Lbs.
High volume
Well-organized
Comfortable
Heavy
Lacks chest clip

The DadGear Backpack looks like a traditional backpack from the outside, but when you open it up, it has all the functionality of a diaper bag. Owned and operated by two dads, they have thought of things like a dedicated front wipe pocket, fully opening zipper compartments and a diaper hammock to keep diapers easily accessible at the top of the bag. There are also two dedicated bottle pockets (not insulated). This roomy bag has enough interior space to fit items for more than one kiddo and enough pockets to organize everything you need to bring with you. And after you load up the backpack, its comfortable padded straps make wearing it a breeze.

This bag is a bit heavier than several of the other packs we tested. While the comfortable straps and easy adjustments should help distribute the weight, it lacks a chest clip to help take some of the pressure off the shoulders. With all the gear you can fit in this bag, it would be nice to have help bearing the load. This beautiful non-traditional diaper bag will have every dad (and many moms) wishing he had one even without the chest clip.

Read the Review: DadGear Backpack

4

Best Bang for Your Buck: Easy to Use


Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open


Best Value Award

$69.99
at Amazon
See It

Dimensions: 14.8"W x 14.2"H x 6.2"D | Weight: 1.8 Lbs.
Easy internal access
Well-priced
Good exterior organization
Straps are uncomfortable
Needs additional 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 on the bag are designed to almost look like a seat belt, but a bit thinner. While the material is soft, it isn't padded which could be uncomfortable on longer days. With a fully packed bag and how often you'll be using it, you'll want to ensure it isn't uncomfortable making it a bag you'll want to try before you buy. Also, while we like the exterior pockets, there is very little internal organization which could require investing in some interior storage bags to avoid a black hole situation. Given how often you'll be searching 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 handle with one hand.

Read the Review: Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open

5

Best Value Backpack


Bag Nation


Bag Nation
Best Value Award

$65.95
(6% off)
at Amazon
See It

Dimensions: 14"W x 17"H x 7.5"D | Weight: 2.4 Lbs.
Large
Lots of pockets
Value-priced
Needs additional bottle holder
Quality control issues

The Bag Nation backpack is a nice sized pack at a nice price. This gender neutral bag is quite roomy with 14 multi-sized pockets for all of your essentials. Among these pockets are an insulated bottle pocket and dedicated wipe pocket. It also comes with a changing pad and sundry bag as part of your purchase. It has water-resistant fabric which is nice for spills or wet weather. You can also feel good knowing you are buying a bag that is BPA and phosphate free, as well as made in the USA. This bag is the least expensive backpack we tested, but there is a lot to like about this bag.

You might be wondering what else you need to know about this pack. First, while it does have a nice insulated pocket for a bottle or sippy cup, it is not large enough to fit an 8 oz bottle with lid or larger. There is no exterior mesh pocket for a taller cup or water bottle. Also, there have been several reports of quality control issues with straps breaking or material fraying. On the upside, they do offer a lifetime guarantee and have awesome customer service if you need a replacement. If you want a bag without a feminine touch or baby theme, the Bag Nation could be a top contender.

6

Best Value Tote


Hip Cub Original Tote


Hip Cub Original Tote
Best Value Award

$39.99
(20% off)
at Amazon
See It

Dimensions: 14.5"W x 13.5"H x 4.8"D | Weight: 1.6 Lbs.
Low cost
Perfect size
Cute
Color fading
Gets dirty easily

The Hip Cub Original Tote is a great option if you are looking for a budget-friendly diaper bag. While it comes in as the least expensive option, you still get a good quality bag that is cute with a nice striped pattern that doesn't scream "diaper bag" while getting the job done. It is a perfect medium-size bag that will fit the essentials without feeling like you are carrying large luggage around. This bag is one of the lighter options, and it has two carry positions (tote and crossbody).

While moms love the striped pattern, the cotton canvas shows every speck of dirt. The dark colors can hide it a bit better, but the white stripes are going to showcase the inevitable dirt and food stains. The manufacturer suggests hand washing the bag or dry cleaning. While this may take care of the stains, it creates another problem, as the colored stripes fade when washed - even with spot cleaning, which is a super bummer. However, for the price and convenience, it may be worth purchasing this stylish choice for the budget-friendly price alone.

7

Great for Multiples


Ju-Ju-Be Be Prepared


Ju-Ju-Be Be Prepared
Top Pick Award

$93.22
(53% off)
at Amazon
See It

Dimensions: 18.5"W x 14"H x 6.5"D | Weight: 3.5 Lbs.
Easy organization
Ergonomic & well-padded
Durable
Heavy
Expensive

The Ju-Ju-Be Be Prepared will do exactly as the name implies by providing enough space for you to "be prepared" for almost anything. This bag is super spacious and well organized, so you never have to decide whether or not to bring something just because of space. There are multiple compartments and pockets to store all of your baby gear, plus a nice sized mommy pocket. The Ju-Ju-Be does a nice job putting padding in all the right places to make this large bag more comfortable to carry, whether tote style or crossbody. It is a great investment if you are planning on using it for multiple children, as it is durable and has plenty of room. The exterior of the bag has a Teflon coating to make it waterproof, which means the color won't fade no matter how many times you need to toss it in the washing machine.

What are the flaws with the Be Prepared? First, its sheer size and heavier materials make it the heftiest option with a weight of 3.5 lbs. While the bag is well-designed, all of that weight will ultimately end up on your shoulders. While it is the most expensive on our list, knowing that you can use this bag for years and it won't need replacing in 6 months helps create value that makes the price a manageable situation.

Read the Review: Ju-Ju-Be Be Prepared

8

Short Outing Messenger


Ju-Ju-Be Helix


Top Pick Award

$99.99
at Amazon
See It

Dimensions: 12.5"W x 15"H x 3.5"D | Weight: 1.6 Lbs.
Lightweight
Unisex
Memory foam base
Small volume
Only crossbody wear option

Ju-Ju-Be XY Collection Helix is a great minimalist diaper 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 also works well for outings with older kids who don't need all of the infant gear or as a work bag that has some of the bells and whistles of a diaper bag like insulated pockets and a changing pad. 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 large amounts of gear. If you have a full day outing in the works or multiple children, you will 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, then 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

High Volume Expandable Tote


Storksak Expandable Tote


Top Pick Award

$145.00
at Amazon
See It

Dimensions: 19"W x 13"-15"H x 8"D | Weight: 1.5 Lbs.
Expandable
Large Volume
Pocketed changing pad
Fewer pockets
Expensive

Storksak Expandable Tote is a unique expandable tote with an innovative design. The tote zippers across the exterior enable it to expand when you desire extra room. When unzipped, it will provide an additional two inches of height to the bag. Because of this, it is one of the roomiest bags in the review. It also comes with an insulated bottle pouch, crossbody strap, and changing pad with pockets. The pockets in the pad are convenient for storing your diaper changing essentials like wipes, diaper cream, and a diaper or two.

Although this bag is quite roomy, it has fewer pockets to help keep it organized. It does not offer the same level of organization that we found in several of the other bags. There is one smallish interior zippered pocket for phone and possibly a wallet, one exterior pocket, and two interior stretch pockets. Although this was not the most expensive bag we tested, it is on the higher end, and we feel like this bag is somewhat basic for the price point. However, if you are looking for an innovative bag that is outside the usual fare, then the Storksak is an enviable option for parents looking for more space.

10

Zip-Down Changing Pad


Petunia Pickle Bottom City Carryall



$137.75
(18% off)
at Amazon
See It

Dimensions: 13"W x 12"H x 5.5"D | Weight: 2.8 Lbs.
Superb quality
Long adjustable shoulder strap
Water resistant material
Limited volume
No insulated pocket

Petunia Pickle Bottom City Carryall is a high-quality tote that is available with multiple colorful patterns and fun designs. The design of the bag makes it a great diaper bag that can transition into a cute handbag when your kiddos outgrow it. There are two available carrying options on this bag including real leather tote handles and an optional crossbody strap. It is nice to have carry options depending on the weight of the bag or the method you prefer. This bag has recently been updated to include a zip down changing station which is great for creating a hygienic changing area no matter where you are. 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 does limit interior volume. This product is the smallest in the review, and while it balances this somewhat with multiple interior and exterior pockets, it just isn't going to hold as much gear as the competition. Another thing to note is there are no insulated pockets which can be a pain when you are bringing milk and other items that need refrigeration. You will need to invest in a small cooler bag if you need to keep things fresh while out and about 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

Eye-Catching Style


Itzy Ritzy Boss


Itzy Ritzy Boss

$149.98
at Amazon
See It

Dimensions: 10.5"W x 18"H x 7"D | Weight: 2.5 Lbs.
Stylish
Front zips all the way down
Rubber bottom feet
Heavy
Zipper sticks

Looking for a diaper bag backpack that doesn't scream diaper bag? The Itzy Ritzy Boss might be your answer. This cute backpack not only looks good, but it performs well too. It is spacious, with useful organization features and tons of pockets. The main compartment zipper runs all the way down the sides of the bag which is nice when you are digging around for lost items. No more need to stick your hand deep down to feel blindly around. Also, bag bottoms can get gross when they sit on the floors of restaurants, bathrooms, cars, or grass. This bag has rubber feet on the bottom of the bag that can be easily wiped down.

Itzy Ritzy has done an excellent job using quality materials. However, that means that the bag is a bit heavier than several competitors. While this bag weighs a little more, it has padded straps, so it is comfortable to carry on your back. There are also some reports of finicky zippers, though we didn't experience this. While the complaints are few and far between, you may want to check it out upon arrival to make sure no returns are necessary. If the zipper is good and you want a backpack style bag, it is hard to go wrong with the Ritzy Boss and its wide mouth main pocket and keep clean bottom.

12

Feminine Backpack in Vegan Leather


Freshly Picked



$175.00
at Amazon
See It

Dimensions: 13"W x 15"H x 7"D | Weight: 2.3 Lbs.
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, crossbody, or purse. It is super roomy and well-designed with multiple pockets (both inside and out) to fit everything you need for the day and then some. This bag has huge side pockets that fit a super 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. 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, the higher quality materials and construction of this bag 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. If your budget allows and you need a great bag for the long haul, then the Freshly Picked is a winner.

13

Budget Vegan Tote


Babymel Grace


Babymel Grace

$90.00
at Amazon
See It

Dimensions: 14.6"W x 16.5"H x 5.7"D | Weight: 1.8 Lbs.
Modern & stylish
Well-priced
Wipes clean easily
Few pockets
Not great for multiples

Babymel Grace is a super modern and chic tote, with an optional crossbody strap (sold separately), and a great price. The soft faux leather exterior wipes clean without a fuss, and it stands up to the elements with no problems. It comes with a machine washable changing mat, so it is easy to sanitize after several changes. Sporting neutral colors and a classy style means it could do double duty as an all-around bag when your diaper days are over.

This bag has a total of five pockets, but that may not be enough. Depending on your organizational style, having few pockets can be a positive or negative. Without enough organization, your bag can quickly turn into a black hole, digging endlessly for the diaper cream. On the other hand, sometimes too many pockets can become an endless search of "Which pocket did I put that in?". Limited organization features make the Grace unsuitable for multiple babies, but it is a classy, quality option that gets the job done for one.

14

Removable Feeding & Changing Pods


Pacapod Mirano



$190.00
at Amazon
See It

Dimensions: 17.7"W x 14.2"H x 7.9"D | Weight: 3.1 Lbs.
Removable pod system
Large volume
Unisex
Heavy
Expensive
Few pockets

Pacapod Mirano is a unique style bag with special pods designed for diapering and feeding. The removable pods are great for on-the-go organization and quick access to the essentials. The pods store in a separate compartment, but take up space in the main area. Because accessories for feeding are taken care of in the pod, it leaves a decent amount of room in the rest of the bag for the remaining gear. The cotton coated canvas material wipes clean easily and is also phthalate free. The bag comes in multiple colors with tote and crossbody styles that are perfect for mom or dad.

While the Pacapod is well-made, it comes with a hefty price and a higher weight. If this is something you are going to be carrying around all day, you may notice it's extra weight even when it's not full. Also, although we love the pods and the style of the bag, we do wish that there were more pockets and organization for the rest of the gear. That said, this is a quality bag that endures serious use. If the price is a problem, but you're still interested in a Pacapod, the unisex Pacapod Picos Pack is one pound lighter and a skosh less expensive.

15

Roomy Versatility


TWELVElittle Foldover Tote


TWELVElittle Foldover Tote

$159.00
(9% off)
at Amazon
See It

Dimensions: 13.8"W x 16"H x 6.3"D | Weight: 2.3 Lbs.
Multiple wear styles
Unisex
PVC, BPA, and phthalate free
Expensive
Strap needs to be more adjustable

TWELVElittle Foldover Tote is a medium-sized tote with a strap that morphs via 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 on 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 any defects. Petite users should also consider that the backpack strap is the crossbody strap, so adjustability is limited because the padding on the strap gets in the way. But for taller parents who want to share a tote, this versatile option could be a good choice, especially if one is looking for a backpack while the other prefers a shoulder strap.

With so many kinds of bags to choose from it can be difficult to know what to look for and avoid getting swayed by a fashionable face.
With so many kinds of bags to choose from it can be difficult to know what to look for and avoid getting swayed by a fashionable face.

How We Evaluated


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

Analysis


Our analysis broke down the pros and cons of each diaper bag. We looked at over 110 diaper bags, and after a careful selection, we were able to narrow it down to the top 15. We then spent time studying and testing the bags individually and side-by-side to give you the information you need to find the perfect diaper bag.

The Storksak Expandable Tote is significantly larger than the Ju-Ju-Be Helix  though smaller and lighter may suit your needs better depending on your goals.
The Storksak Expandable Tote is significantly larger than the Ju-Ju-Be Helix, though smaller and lighter may suit your needs better depending on your goals.

Weight is Important


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, like quality and storage. However, you'll likely be carrying this bag on a daily basis. When you look at the long list of items that will be in the diaper bag, it is going to get heavy. Paying attention to the weight of the bag along with style can mean the difference between a sore shoulder and a happy back.


The Skip Hop Grand Central is the lightest 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. You should consider how you'll use your bag before settling on your final purchase. Will you be taking it in the car or bringing it with on walks? Dropping the bag off at daycare or bringing it along on errands? Your bag will carry a lot of crucial stuff so finding the one you are comfortable lugging around is important. If you won't be taking it for long distances but instead using it more in the car, then weight may play less of a role in your final decision.

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

Buying Advice


Finding the right diaper bag can significantly reduce the stress you experience on a day out with your baby. Diaper changes away from home are not always a piece of cake, and a great bag will make things simpler by ensuring that you have everything you need in an organized, easy to access bag. A well-stocked, organized, easy to carry diaper bag is one of the most important tools in your parent arsenal, but the market is flooded with must-have baby gear, so diaper bags are often a last minute decision driven by looks. We are committed to eliminating the guesswork for you, so you can find a great bag you love that is more than just a pretty face.

Storage is Key


When searching for the perfect diaper bag, your first consideration should be storage features. By "storage" we mean the overall capacity of a bag and the organization options including pockets and other features that make finding and storing gear easier. If you are a first-time parent, you may be surprised at the amount of stuff you're going to be hauling around for your baby's needs. Here's our list of what you can typically find in the well-stocked bag of an experienced parent:

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.
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.

Items for Baby

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Rash cream
  • Sacks for dirty diapers
  • Changing pad
  • Burp cloths
  • Change of clothes
  • Blanket or nursing cover
  • Bottle(s) or sippy cup(s)
  • Binkies and toys
  • Sunscreen
  • Snacks

Items for Parent

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

A great bag will fit all or at least most of these things in a way that makes them easy to access with the ability to determine when you need to restock essentials like diapers and wipes. We found that bags with exterior storage pockets for bottles and snacks, as well as additional compartments for a cell phone, changing pad, diapers, and wipes as particularly functional.

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

Keep in mind that your mileage will vary when it comes to storage needs. For example, you will 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'll need more storage on a regular basis.

Ease of Use


Your next key consideration should be ease of use. The first time you try to change your baby on a public changing table only to discover you've forgotten your diaper cream will make you glad that you can easily grab the cream from a nicely organized diaper bag while holding baby still with one hand, this is otherwise known as the holy grail bag of parenthood. You also want to have a bag with a light interior that opens wide so you can see and access the contents inside without a search party. We found bags with deep interiors, narrow openings, and dark linings to be somewhat like trying to find something in a black hole. In this situation, it doesn't matter how many organizational pockets a bag has, if you can't easily see everything or grab what you need quickly, we all but guarantee frustration.

The inside of the Ju-Ju-Be Helix is small with no internal organization to help prevent losing items in the bottom of the bag.
The inside of the Ju-Ju-Be Helix is small with no internal organization to help prevent losing items in the bottom of the bag.

Closures also play into ease of use. Compartments and pockets can have several types of closures including zippers, snaps, magnets, or Velcro. Zippers are our favorite. In fact, it is essential that it also has an internal compartment that zips closed. When a pocket left is open, you will lose items when the bag tips over or turns upside down, trust us. Magnetic closures tend not to close or stay closed when fully loaded. Nonetheless, one of our biggest pet peeves in this category are Velcro closures, which we (thankfully) did not encounter this go round.

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

Why You Should Fear Velcro


In our opinion, bags without Velcro are a big plus, and here are the three reasons why:
  • Noisy — Velcro is noisy and can be loud enough to wake your sleeping baby
  • Sticky — Velcro sticks to fabrics which is a bummer for any nice fabric to which it clings
  • Poor Longterm Durability — Velcro tends to wear out out which is an issue when you consider that you are going to be using an item like this for a long time

Once the Velcro has been sticking to everything and anything after heavy use, the hooks usually get clogged with fluff and fuzz so the pockets may not close correctly. Unfortunately, many changing pad covers include small Velcro closures, but as we found in our testing, even these are significantly loud, and it may be easier to cut off the closure than to bother messing with it.

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.
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.

Consider Your Needs Too


It is essential that your bag has a secure place to hold personal items like a cellphone, wallet, and keys. Not only is it cumbersome to carry a purse and a diaper bag simultaneously, but with a great diaper bag, it won't be necessary. So finding a bag with a mommy or daddy pocket can be ridiculously useful but easy to forget. Key clips are also a valuable perk that keeps keys from getting lost in the bag (which happens far more than you will want to admit).

The Ju-Ju-Be Helix has a nice long crossbody strap for hands free carrying.
The Ju-Ju-Be Helix has a nice long crossbody strap for hands free carrying.

Quality & Cost


Bag quality is arguably more important that you may think. After all, this bag needs to get you through the long haul and situations that are sometimes not very pretty. This purchase is an investment in a tool you'll be using for years to come. A broken handle, strap, or zipper could cause a dreadful day if you are far from home with your baby. We find that the cheaper bags (<$40-$55) are inferior in materials, construction, and function. The cost of two cheapos is more than one quality bag that will last for years. Less expensive bags likely include flimsy lining, weak seams, and mediocre storage. Even a small jump in price can buy significantly better quality and durability. Our advice? Shoot for at least a mid-range ($60-$100) bag. This price will buy you a quality product that you can use after your little one is out of diapers. Of course, high-end bags ($100-$250+) sometimes come with more bells and whistles. If money is tight, you can add your diaper bag to your registry or ask your girlfriends to go in on it together. Of the bags we tested, we found one low-end gem our Best Value winner, the Hip Cub Tote which impresses for only $50.

Fit & Style


Bag style is important both to form and function. When it comes to carrying the bag, there are four main styles, the tote, messenger, backpack, and stroller handlebar. Convertible bags combine two or more of these options which can often help make a bag attractive to mom and dad. If your diaper bag is uncomfortable to carry, the style will probably be unable to overcome a poor fit, so considering fit is just as important as the style.

With a top handle the Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. is easy to carry with one hand.
With a top handle the Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. is easy to carry with one hand.

The tote is similar to a large handbag that you carry from a top handle or two. Many come with a detachable messenger style strap which is a long strap that goes over your shoulder or across your body. A backpack has two straps that go over your shoulders so you can carry the bag on your back. Some options come equipped with stroller strap attachments that allow the bag to hang on the back of a stroller's handlebar. However, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association warns against hanging anything on the back of a stroller because the excess weight may cause the stroller to tip backward resulting in possible injury to your baby. We agree that this is a no-no. If you are strolling, you'll need to carry the bag or place it in the designated storage bin on the stroller (see manufacturer guidelines on maximum weight capacities).

The straps on the Freshly Picked would be more comfortable if they were padded or wider.
The straps on the Freshly Picked would be more comfortable if they were padded or wider.

Finding a style that is right for you is highly personal. If you want to be hands-free while carrying your things, consider a backpack or messenger bag. Ergonomically, we found backpacks to be the most comfortable as all of the weight rests equally on both shoulders and your back. However, you need to take the bag off to access anything. Alternatively, you can hold a baby in one arm while taking a bottle out with the other when you carry a messenger bag. And, if a messenger has nice padding in the strap, it can be very comfortable.

Materials


Because your diaper will get dragged and dirty in ways you can't imagine right now, we strongly suggest finding a bag that is easy to maintain. Wipe clean linings are awesome, and water repellant and stain-resistant exterior fabric are wonderful. However, a bag that you can throw in the washing machine is the dream. At the very least, find a bag that you can wipe clean both inside and outside. Always refer to manufacturer instructions when it comes to the care of your bag to help maintain longevity and looks.

The Petunia Pickle Bottom City Carryall is water repellent and stain resistant.
The Petunia Pickle Bottom City Carryall is water repellent and stain resistant.

Diaper bags are very susceptible to the growth of microbes (thanks to the waste they often carry). Some companies offer bags with Agion, an antimicrobial finish, which is a useful feature that limits the growth and spreading of these kinds of microbes. Agion is also cradle-to-cradle certified, meaning healthy for you and the environment which makes it even cooler in our opinion.

Having an eco-friendly bag can be a big plus. Because you will be stuffing your baby's belongings inside the bag and babies like to put anything and everything in their mouths, you may want to consider materials that are healthier or limit your baby's exposure to chemicals.

We do not recommend polyvinyl chloride plastic, also called PVC or vinyl, in diaper bags. PVC can be found as a soft plastic typically used for the interior or changing pad linings and sometimes as accessory pouches to create a flexible, water-resistant surface that is easy to wipe clean. Seems like great material, right? Not really, PVC is far from perfect.

To make the PVC soft, plasticizers, also known as phthalates, are added to the mix. Widespread concern surrounds the effect of exposure to plasticizers on health. Also, there are potential durability issues with soft PVC as it can crack with age, particularly when exposed to consistently cold temperatures. Take a good whiff of soft PVC. You'll notice it gives off a potent chemical smell. We aren't fans of having products with strong chemical smells around developing babies and children. In fact, the Environmental Working Group has a plethora of information surrounding plasticizers and exposing children to them. "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 options out there, even in the low-cost realm.

The Pacapod Mirano has a zip down front pocket that holds some of the organization pods used in the Pacapod.
The Pacapod Mirano has a zip down front pocket that holds some of the organization pods used in the Pacapod.

Features & Accessories


A diaper bag's features and accessories can make or break your overall satisfaction with a bag. Features like insulated bottle holders, comfy padding on shoulder straps, key clips, and luggage feet can make your day-to-day routine easier or be challenging depending on their design. Although you can always substitute subpar accessories and replace them with ones you love, a diaper bag that gets it right from day one can make a big difference in your outing experience.

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.
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.

Try It Before You Buy It


Our last piece of advice when purchasing a bag for your baby supplies is try it before you buy it. Or, if you buy online, buy from a retailer with a liberal return policy like Amazon. Have all of your essentials handy, pack it up, and see how it feels. See if you can find items quickly with just one hand. Check that regularly needed items are easily accessible. Also, try the bag on to ensure it is comfortable when fully packed.

Conclusion


A diaper bag that is functional, comfortable, and durable can make a big difference in your everyday life. Choosing a bag that meets your needs with room to grow will go a long way in helping you navigate your on-the-go diaper years as smoothly as possible. Now that you know what to look for and what you may be carrying, as well as the pros and cons of each product, we think you'll be able to find a bag to meet your needs and budget.


Juliet Spurrier, MD & Lindsay Selig