In-depth baby product reviews led by a Pediatrician

The 5 Best Diaper Bags

We tested the top diaper bags from Ju-Ju-Be, Skip Hop, Petunia Pickle Bottom, and others to find the best
The Best Diaper Bags
With so many kinds of bags to choose from, it is important to look deeper than a fashionable face.
Credit: Abriah Wofford
Tuesday November 29, 2022

Want a diaper bag worthy of joining your family? We have placed our hands on more than 35 contenders and whittled them down to the top 12 diaper bags available today for hands-on testing and side-by-side comparison. While a functional bag can make outings with your little one more enjoyable, finding one that works for your whole family can be difficult, especially with so many options on the market. Fortunately, our review will outline the information and details you need. We focused on the most pertinent factors, including weight, capacity, organizational features, cleaning methods, etc. 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.

Diapering is an all-consuming part of babyhood. Finding the best diaper, best baby wipes, and the best diaper cream can make the process more manageable no matter what kind of mess your little one dishes out. If you choose the best cloth diapers, you might be interested in our favorite cloth baby wipes too.

Editor's Note: We updated this diaper bag review on November 29, 2022. We checked the availability of the lineup and added three new contenders to the competition.

Top 12 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 12
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Value Award  
Price $175 List
$175.00 at Amazon
$195 List
Check Price at Amazon
$169 List
$169.00 at Amazon
$75 List
$71.97 at Amazon
$95 List
$95.00 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Excelent organization, comfortable carry, under the radar designBeautiful design with thoughtful features, multi-use, heavy-duty hardwareComfortable to carry, completely insulated, versatileEasy-to-access interior, great price, nice exterior organizationLightweight, lifelong use, large capacity
Cons Only one carry style, expensive, annoying strapsHeavy, expensive, zipper problemsDifficult to clean, no laptop pocketLacks inner pockets, straps uncomfortableNot well structured, limited carry options
Bottom Line An abundance of pockets offer excellent organization, but with difficult-to-adjust strapsA thoughtful bag that is multi-functional and stylish, but it is expensive and heavyA high quality, user-friendly bag with multiple carry styles and a totally insulated body, but fewer pocketsThis easy-to-clean and practical bag has a unique stay-open feature that makes access simple but is not as comfortable to carryA roomy backpack style diaper bag with the potential for lifelong use, but limited useability
Rating Categories Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. Petunia Pickle Bott... Skip Hop Mainframe... 7AM Voyage BK718
Storage (35%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
Quality (35%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
Ease of Use (30%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Style (0%)
5.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Specs Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. Petunia Pickle Bott... Skip Hop Mainframe... 7AM Voyage BK718
Carry Style Backpack Backpack/Tote Backpack/Tote Backpack/Crossbody/Tote Backpack
Dimensions 12"W x 16"H x 5"D 14"W x 12" H x 6.5" D 15"W x 14.5"H x 5.5"D 14.8"W x 14.2"H x 6.2"D 17"W x 12"H x 5"D
Weight 2.34 lbs 2.8 lbs 2.36 lbs 1.8 lbs 1.7 lbs
Insulated Pocket/Cooler Yes, 2 insulated pockets Yes, 2 insulated pockets Yes, entire bag Yes, 2 insulated pockets No
Included Accessories None None Wipe holder None Stroller straps
Cleaning/Care Machine washable Machine washable Wipe with a damp cloth and air dry. Changing pad is machine washable. Spot clean with a damp cloth and mild detergent Machine wash cold and tumble dry on low heat setting


Best Overall Diaper Bag


Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back


84
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Storage 8.0
  • Quality 9.0
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Style 5.0
Dimensions: 12"W x 16"H x 5"D | Carry Style: Backpack
REASONS TO BUY
Comfortable carry
Excellent organization
Lighter weight
REASONS TO AVOID
Small size
Difficult to adjust straps

The Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back is an easy-to-use and perfectly sized backpack-style diaper bag with a plethora of features to make your life as a parent easier. We love the extra-wide zippered openings and find that there is always a pocket right where you need it. The down-to-earth style comes in various colors that will keep both mom and dad happy, and it has memory foam padded straps that are comfortable to wear all day.

This bag may not be the best choice for perpetual over-packers or parents of multiples. Its smaller size means you will have to carefully select the items you bring along or risk overfilling the bag. Our biggest gripe with this bag is the strap adjustment method. Double D rings keep the straps securely in place, but the design is challenging to adjust, especially on the go. The Be Right Back is a bag that almost every parent will love if you can make peace with these issues.

Read more: Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back review

best overall diaper bag
No more digging through a black hole; the Be Right Back puts it all on display.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Favorite Versatile Bag


Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F.


80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Storage 7.0
  • Quality 9.0
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Style 7.0
Dimensions: 14"W x 12"H x 6.5"D | Carry Style: Crossbody/Backpack/Tote
REASONS TO BUY
Great quality
Easy organization
Machine-washable
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavy
Zipper problems

The Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. is a great smaller tote or backpack with unique organizational features. There is a pocket for everything, and each compartment is well-designed and thoughtfully placed. Some of the bags we've tested have pockets that are weirdly sized or not arranged helpfully; however, this is not the case with the Ju-Ju-Be. While it is not as big as other bags, its strategic arrangement makes it easy to organize personal items and 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 more, 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 get 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 consider. 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, the B.F.F. should be at the top of your list.

Read more: Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. review

diaper bag - favorite versatile bag
With lots of pockets, the Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. has a place for everything and everything in its place.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best Bang for Your Bag Buck


Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open


70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Storage 6.0
  • Quality 7.0
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Style 7.0
Dimensions: 14.8"W x 14.2"H x 6.2"D | Carry Style: Crossbody/Backpack/Tote
REASONS TO BUY
Easy internal access
Well-priced
Good exterior organization
REASONS TO AVOID
Straps are uncomfortable
Needs more interior pockets

The Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open 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 or best sippy cups, and enough space for your essentials. This bag is well-made and can transition from tote to backpack, all for a great price.

The backpack straps almost look like a seatbelt but are 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 buying. 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 more: Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open review

diaper bag - best bang for your bag buck
The interior, while large, was lacking internal organization pockets.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Favorite Minimalist Solution


Skip Hop Pronto


59
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Storage 2.0
  • Quality 7.0
  • Ease of Use 9.0
  • Style 7.0
Dimensions: 12"W x 8"H x 3"D | Carry Style: Clutch
REASONS TO BUY
Small
Large changing pad
Convenient
REASONS TO AVOID
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 upgrade to a bag you already have. Many moms love to slip this foldable package into a large tote along with their 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.

The Skip Hop is unlikely to replace your regular diaper bag unless you are an expert at pairing down. 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 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 the Skip Hop Pronto is an affordable accessory to add an element of simplicity to your on-the-go diaper changes.

Read more: Skip Hop Pronto review

diaper bag - favorite minimalist solution
The inner zippered pocket is perfect for small items such as diaper cream, hand sanitizer, or an extra burp cloth.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Favorite Diaper Bag for Dads


HighSpeedDaddy


67
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Storage 8.0
  • Quality 6.0
  • Ease of Use 6.0
  • Style 6.0
Dimensions: 18"W x 18"H x 7.5"D | Carry Style: Backpack
REASONS TO BUY
Durable
Storage space and pockets
Quality changing pad
REASONS TO AVOID
Dark interior
Location and performance of insulated pocket

If you're looking for a big bag, this is a keeper. Plus, many Dads may carry the HighSpeedDaddy with pride. This backpack is larger and roomier than others in the lineup, offering plenty of storage space to pack an arsenal of baby gear. The main compartment houses the changing pad and a few pockets to stash items like snacks or a top-ranked baby bib. The other interior pocket is medium-sized and offers numerous pockets. We noticed that smaller and slimmer items, like a bottle of the best diaper cream, sunscreen, diapers, and more, fit perfectly in these pockets. And, if that's not enough, the bag's exterior offers more pockets, such as a fleece-lined pocket on top for things like sunglasses, two easy-access mesh pockets, two insulated side pockets for baby bottles, and an integrated wipes pocket with a zipper closure. The changing pad (25.5"L x 14"W) is of higher quality than others, and it's machine washable (amazing).

The bag's interior material is dark, and this could hinder searching for items. If the bag's main compartment isn't heavy enough, the weight of the baby wipes can cause the bag to tip over. We also tested the insulated pockets and were not impressed as they didn't keep the contents cold for even just a couple of hours. This fancy backpack may be costly for some parents, but we think it's sturdy and offers decent quality at a price on par with much of the competition. We can see this bag becoming a gym or laptop bag once the diaper years pass, giving more versatility and value. If you seek a more masculine bag, we think you may like the HighSpeedDaddy.

Read more: HighSpeedDaddy review

diaper bag - the highspeeddaddy is loaded with pockets and storage space.
The HighSpeedDaddy is loaded with pockets and storage space.
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
84
Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back
ju-ju-be be right back diaper bag review
$175
Editors' Choice Award
80
Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F.
ju-ju-be b.f.f. diaper bag review
$195
Editors' Choice Award
77
Petunia Pickle Bottom Pivot
petunia pickle bottom pivot diaper bag
$169
70
Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open
skip hop mainframe wide open diaper bag review
$75
Best Value Award
67
7AM Voyage BK718
7am voyage bk718 diaper bag
$95
67
HighSpeedDaddy
highspeeddaddy diaper bag review
$120
Top Pick Award
59
Skip Hop Pronto
skip hop pronto diaper bag review
$30
Top Pick Award
57
Freshly Picked
freshly picked diaper bag
$199
53
Ruvalino Backpack
ruvalino backpack diaper bag review
$50
50
Skip Hop Greenwich
skip hop greenwich diaper bag
$110
37
Tiny Orca
tiny orca diaper bag
$48
37
KeaBabies Original
keababies original diaper bag
$50

diaper bag - the ju-ju-be b.f.f. has a simple but stylish look with versatile...
The Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. has a simple but stylish look with versatile pocket options.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Why You Should Trust Us


We spent over 100 hours researching, analyzing, and testing diaper bags to determine the best options (just like we do with all of our baby gear test subjects). We use several essential factors, such as capacity, weight, ease of use, accessories, style, and quality, to determine the rank of each product. As a final test, we pack the bags full of diapering essentials and evaluate their performance to help you determine which bag is best for your family.

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 critical and more important than style.

Senior Review Editor, Wendy Schmitz is a mom of two that got locked into a pricey bag her husband liked that they received as a baby gift. It was far too heavy for her to carry. After a year of frustration and shoulder pain, she realized there had to be something better.

Abriah Wofford is a Senior Review Editor with 7 years of testing experience with BabyGearLab and many more years of hands-on use as a nanny and older sister to 5. All three 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 twelve years of combined bag experience. With extensive test and research backgrounds from working at BabyGearLab on all kinds of gear, we have unique hands-on experience with many bags you can't find anywhere else.

The Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open has plenty of interior space and...
The Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open has plenty of interior space and will stay open to easily see inside.
This photo shows the padded tech pocket for your phone.
This photo shows the 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 before purchasing the top bags for hands-on testing. We then spent time testing and comparing the bags individually and side-by-side to give you the information to find the perfect bag for you and your family.


Value


You'll likely be carrying a diaper bag for at least the first two years of your child's life. Diaper 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 a lifeline when away from home, 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 a non-starter, but if you can swing it or put it on a registry, we think there is value in the valuable features and higher-quality construction that could translate to a longer lifespan. Otherwise, the Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open is a much more budget-friendly option that should last you until your child is out of diapers.

diaper bag - 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

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. A key thing to remember is that more pockets do not always mean better organization. The HighSpeedDaddy backpack has one of the highest pocket counts in our review. However, the pockets range in size, and some are slim and narrow, making them less helpful than the Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open, a bag with half the number of pockets but more efficient storage.


The diaper bag with the lowest storage score is the Skip Hop Pronto. This small clutch provides only enough room for the bare minimum in supplies, but it keeps your load light. First-time parents may be surprised by how much stuff they need to haul around for one baby. If you toss in a few things for yourself, you'll understand the value of a well-organized bag. Here's our list of the typical supplies you'll find in the well-stocked diaper bag of an experienced parent:

diaper bag - 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 shows some of the essential goods most parents find helpful to take along when out and about with their baby.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Baby Supplies


  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Rash cream
  • Bag for dirty diapers
  • Changing pad
  • Burp cloths
  • Clothing changes
  • Blanket/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

A great bag needs to fit all or most of your supplies. In addition, items should be easy to access, and you should have the ability to quickly 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. We especially love when bags have a dedicated "mom pocket" that keeps personal items organized separately from baby supplies.

diaper bag - the petunia pickle bottom pivot has an extra compartment under the...
The Petunia Pickle Bottom Pivot has an extra compartment under the bag for added storage.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Your needs will vary when it comes to storage. For example, you may need an extra roomy bag for more than one child in diapers or overnight and multi-day trips. A large bag like the HighSpeedDaddy is ideal if you need additional storage, while the Skip Hop Pronto has almost no storage and is better for short outings like running errands.

diaper bag - the backside of the be right back has mesh ventilation, and the...
The backside of the Be Right Back has mesh ventilation, and the shoulder straps have memory foam padding, creating a comfortable carry.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Use


Your next consideration should be ease of use. Imagine you are in the middle of changing your infant on a public changing table only to discover that your baby's diaper cream is buried at the bottom of the bag in a pocket with a faulty zipper. Scenarios like this make you appreciate a well-designed product where you can retrieve the cream quickly with one hand. Smooth zippers and elastic closures allow easy access and mesh displays all contents for quick spotting. The product with the highest ease of use score is the Skip Hop Pronto. The small package keeps everything immediately accessible, is super lightweight, and will fit in your purse, stroller basket, or backpack.


The Tiny Orca earned the low score among the group. This bag can expand into a diaper-changing station and offers a USB charge port to charge devices while on the go. However, our excitement quickly ended when we realized a few things. While setting up the diaper-changing station isn't too difficult and quick, getting it back into place and zipping the bag takes effort and patience. Plus, you'll be doing this while juggling your baby. Also, the diaper bag doesn't include a power source. The company confirmed that you must purchase a charging bank separately and that this information appears in the product's Amazon listing pictures and a video in the questions and answers section on Amazon. However, we think it's easy to overlook this detail in their marketing material on Amazon and their website. We don't think it's universal knowledge that you will need to purchase a charging bank, so we want to inform our readers here. Besides the diaper bag's expense, you need to add the cost of a charging bank. It's another level of maintenance, too, meaning you'll need to charge and remember to bring it along to make it worthwhile. Some parents may find this helpful, but not all.

The Tiny Orca can extend into a changing station; however, zipping it back together takes effort.

We prefer products with a light-colored 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. We also love some excellent pocket variations. It is helpful to have a few zippered pockets, open pouches, and a few insulated compartments to keep milk warm or cool. The Petunia Pickle Bottom Pivot is entirely insulated so that you can pack snacks wherever convenient. A dedicated bottle pocket lets you keep milk at a different temperature than other food items. However, keep in mind that not all diaper bags have high-quality insulation. While testing, we noticed that some didn't keep the contents cold after a few hours. Therefore, if you're going to be away from home for a while, it can be helpful to store a small ice pack with your baby's milk.

diaper bag - the skip hop greenwich has a zippered main compartment that is...
The Skip Hop Greenwich has a zippered main compartment that is covered by a flap to keep everything tidy.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Closures also impact the ease of use of a bag. Compartments and pockets have a variety of closures, including zippers, snaps, magnets, or Velcro. 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 load.

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.

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 valuable but often overlooked. Key clips are also helpful and prevent your keys from getting lost in the bag (which happens more than you'd think).

Important
Some bags can hang onto your stroller's handlebar; however, we don't recommend doing this because the diaper bag's weight can cause the stroller to tip backward. Instead, use the storage basket underneath your stroller to carry items.

diaper bag - key clips help to keep all items in their correct place.
Key clips help to keep all items in their correct place.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Weight


When selecting the right diaper bag, you may not consider weight, 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 that 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 7AM Voyage BK718 is one of the lightest traditional bags we tested at 1.7 lbs, and the Skip Hop Pronto is a clutch-style bag and is the lightest option in this review at .75 lbs. 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? Drop the bag off at daycare or bring it along for errands? Your bag will carry crucial stuff, so find one you are comfortable lugging around day in and day out. If you aren't taking it for long distances but using it in the car, 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 improve your daily use.

diaper bag - the front pocket on the ju-ju-be b.f.f. has pockets to easily access...
The front pocket on the Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. has pockets to easily access items like a key clip, sunglass pocket, and zipper pocket for cards and cash.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Quality


Bag quality is more important than most parents think. Ideally, your bag should last from the newborn stage through toddlerhood and unpleasant situations. So, think of your diaper bag purchase as an investment in a helpful tool you'll use for years. A broken handle, strap, or zipper could be frustrating when you are out with your baby, and replacing that bag is inconvenient.


The Ju-Ju-Be bags and the Petunia Picklebottom Pivot hold the high score in this metric. These diaper bags earned top scores thanks to their use of high-quality materials, sturdy hardware, and durability-minded construction. However, the KeaBabies Original ranks low. Its material has a powerful, unpleasant off-gassing smell that we experienced for several weeks after unboxing it. Those sensitive to smells may be overwhelmed by this off-gassing contender. Also, we noticed that one of the insulated pockets is ripped.

diaper bag
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff

Inexpensive bags often include lower-quality materials, construction, and function, in our experience. 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. It often buys a quality product you can use even after your child is 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. The lowest-scoring bag we tested is the Ruvalino Backpack. This backpack has an affordable price tag but many zipper issues and flimsy materials.

diaper bag - the material on the inside of the pivot is wipes down without a...
The material on the inside of the Pivot is wipes down without a problem, however, the suede textured material on the outside may not be so easy.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Materials


Diaper bags can be a mess magnet and get soiled in ways you never imagined. 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. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for your bag's care to maintain its longevity and best appearance.

diaper bag - the material on the petunia pickle bottom may be more difficult to...
The material on the Petunia Pickle Bottom may be more difficult to clean than some other bags.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Diaper bags are more susceptible to microbe growth because they often carry items like snacks, breastmilk, or even human waste (a.k.a. used diapers). Some manufacturers line products with Agion, an antimicrobial finish, to prevent this kind of growth. 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 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 select healthy materials to help limit their family's exposure to chemicals.

We do not recommend using polyvinyl chloride (P.V.C.) plastic (aka vinyl) in anything that might come in contact with a baby or baby products. P.V.C. 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, P.V.C. has some potentially significant health effects.

diaper bag - the ju-ju-be be right back is an entirely pvc-free product.
The Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back is an entirely PVC-free product.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

To make P.V.C. 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 P.V.C. as it can harden and crack over time, especially if exposed to sunlight or cold temperatures. Soft P.V.C. also has a strong chemical smell. Aside from being unpleasant, we prefer not to use products with chemical odors around developing babies and children due to the potential risks. The Environmental Working Group has a plethora of information surrounding plasticizers and the possible consequences of childhood exposure. "In general, the E.U. 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 Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back are a few examples.

diaper bag - the 7am voyage bk718 has double tote handles at the top of the bag.
The 7AM Voyage BK718 has double tote handles at the top of the bag.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Try Before You Buy
We strongly suggest taking your top contender on a test run to ensure 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 item 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 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.

diaper bag - diaper bags come in various styles, including backpack, messenger...
Diaper bags come in various styles, including backpack, messenger, and tote-style.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Style


Diaper bags come in an array of fabrics, colors, and patterns, allowing you to select one that fits your unique style or is more neutral and ideal for sharing. While some parents may not put much thought into what their diaper bag looks like, others may consider it a fashion accessory and an extension of their style. Ultimately, we did not score this metric because style is subjective. Instead, we look beyond fashion and consider other style components, such as size, material, and carry style, which can impact a bag's practicality depending on your family's lifestyle and routine.

Considering that your diaper bag will be your sidekick everywhere you and your baby roam, think about which carry style is easier and more comfortable for you. Some common carry styles include backpack, messenger, tote, fanny pack, and more. A messenger bag has a one-shoulder carry that can put more weight on one side of your body, but it's easier to access items without removing the bag. A backpack-style bag more evenly distributes the diaper bag's weight on your shoulders, which may be necessary for those prone to neck or shoulder pain. It also provides a hands-free carry, especially if you're chasing after an energized toddler, pushing a stroller, or using a top-ranked baby carrier. If selecting a diaper bag with more than one carry style is ideal, check out the Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open, which provides more versatility depending on your needs and if you're sharing the bag with another person.

diaper bag
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff

Conclusion


The perfect diaper bag will differ for each family, especially given factors like family size, lifestyle, and personal taste. However, our hands-on experience with the competition and our years of outings with little ones can provide the information you need to choose the best diaper bag for your needs and budget. Our favorites offer functional storage and organization, are comfortable to carry, and are durable enough to potentially last through the diapering years and beyond.

Juliet Spurrier, MD & Abriah Wofford


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