Diaper Bags 101: a Parent's Guide to Finding 'The Right One'

Diaper Bags 101: a Parent's Guide to Finding 'The Right One'

Diaper bags are much more than a glorified purse to carry diapers and wipes around. And if you’ve ever shopped for one, you know the decision-making process is overwhelming and convoluted. 

It’s no surprise the diaper bag market could reach $800M by 2025. Though the pandemic made for less frequent travel and day trips, even local outings call for using a diaper bag. 

Let’s demystify choosing a diaper bag with tips on what to look for, how to determine your style, and finding one moms and dads can both love.

Picking A Diaper Bag

Choosing a diaper bag is almost as hard as picking your family stroller. It’s what you’ll carry around for years, need at a moment’s notice, and constantly have by your side (or in your car). Consider these types of bags and features when shopping.

Types of Diaper Bags

  • Backpacks: Hands-free! The most comfortable and versatile, great for accessibility across caregivers, and a great gender-neutral option. A popular choice for families with multiple young children. 
  • Totes: Can be stylish and easy to load. Depending on the fastener, not typically spill-proof. Harder to multitask or carry for long periods. 
  • Messenger Bags: A long cross-body strap keeps it hands-free but may not be as comfortable as a backpack or fanny pack. A popular option for a masculine briefcase look.
  • Fanny Packs: Small with compartments, great for only a few items (e.g., your phone, wallet, and a diaper or two). Trendy and convenient. 

Diaper Bag Features

Look for these features if function is your friend:

  • An expansive main compartment with plenty of pockets
  • Easy closure mechanisms like zippers or a magnetic clasp
  • A water bottle pocket that holds an adult-sized water bottle
  • Wipeable, easy-to-clean fabric 
  • A base that stays upright when placed on the floor (e.g., in the car)


Must-have Diaper Bag Add-Ons 

A good diaper bag setup makes finding what you’re looking for easy and quick. Here are ways to upgrade your parenting toolkit:
  • Clear pouches 
  • Insulated pockets for bottles and drinks
  • ID tag with your last name and a phone number
  • A portable changing pad 
  • A refillable wipe container
  • Flair, pins, and buttons

Read more: Choosing A Diaper Bag: A Guide for Overwhelmed New Parents

Dad Bags

If we want to normalize dad bags, men shouldn’t have to use their partner’s feminine diaper bag or one made for the other parent’s style (including heterosexual or same-sex couples). Women already carry so much of the parenting load (literally and figuratively), so designers should keep dads in mind. 

Dad-bag companies love to market diaper bags with manly-man designs, intricate buckles and snaps, and bad-ass camo designs. That’s not for everyone. A gender-neutral look (like Huhu) makes sharing across caregivers easy and much less embarrassing. 

Read more tips for dads: How to Embrace the Swagger of Dad Diaper Bags

Packing A Diaper Bag

Packing a diaper bag is like dating—you don’t know what you really want until you try it a few times. The rest is up to you—just keep your child fed, clothed, and comfortable.

Diaper Bag Essentials Checklist:
  • Diapers (pack one for every two hours you’re out)
  • Wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • An extra outfit or two
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Changing pad
  • Snacks and water
  • Your water bottle
  • Disposable placemats and bib
  • Medications if needed
We put together this guide on what to pack in your diaper bag, from baby stage to toddlerhood and beyond [full checklist included!]: Packing a Diaper Bag like a Pro

Packing A Diaper Bag for Your Newborn

Some of the above essentials won’t apply for your baby until they need more than just love, sleep, and milk. Here are some considerations for what to pack when going out with a newborn:

Extras for your newborn bag: 

  • Breast milk/formula and bottles
  • Pump supplies (electric or manual)
  • Milk freezer bags and labels/a marker
  • Breastfeeding cover
  • Extra burp cloths
  • A wrap for baby-wearing (e.g., the Solly Wrap)
  • Portable sound machine 
  • Extra snacks and water for you, especially if you’re breastfeeding
Here’s more about what to pack in a diaper bag for a newborn

Meet A New Breed of Diaper Bags

Huhu created a diaper bag that gives parents function and form. For centuries, diaper bags were practical but ugly, or pretty but completely impractical. A new group of stylish diaper bags hit the market in the last decade but lack functionality. We want parents to have both without sacrificing functionality. 

FAQs

  1. What is a diaper bag? Diaper bags are a standard baby shower gift and registry item. A diaper bag is a dedicated bag (e.g., backpack, tote, etc.) with pockets and pouches for carrying baby and kid items. Parents use a diaper bag in addition to or in place of their regular purse so they can fit everything their kids may need during outings. 

  2. Who should use a diaper bag? Any parent or caregiver for young children will need a diaper bag. From newborn through preschool, kids require stuff you wouldn’t be able to fit in a pants pocket or purse (e.g., diapers, wipes, extra clothes, toys). Typically, one family will share a diaper bag, though it’s becoming more common for families to have more than one.

  3. Why do you need a diaper bag vs. a regular backpack or tote bag? A good-quality diaper bag is crafted to hold *all* the things—and messes—for babies and kids. Spill-proof and washable fabrics are better for diaper bags than fancy leathers. A diaper bag could have an insulated cooler pocket for bottles and snacks. You also don’t want to ruin your regular bag with gross kid stuff. 

  4. What do I put in my diaper bag? Your diaper bag is for much more than diapering gear, including extra clothes, weather safety, and toys. Every family will need slightly different essentials. Check out our Packing A Diaper Bag guide for more tips and a full checklist.

  5. How long do you use a diaper bag? Most parents use a diaper bag for 3-6 years. This is typically when kids are out of diapers and potty trained but still need a few things during outings. Once they’re in school full-time, you won’t need to carry their stuff around as much—woohoo!

  6. Do I need to bring a diaper bag to the hospital? It's optional. A large weekender bag or small suitcase for everything will suffice, but you could use the diaper bag to pack just the baby gear. You won’t need as much as you think. A few basic clothing items, pacifiers, and special birthday items (e.g., letterboard sign; Nana’s knitted blanket) will do. The hospital will provide diapers and wipes during your stay (and plenty to take home). Check out the Hospital Bag Checklist for more on what to pack for labor and delivery.

  7. Should I register for a diaper bag? A diaper bag is a fun gift to give (and receive) because you’ll need it on Day One. Adding a diaper bag to your baby registry is a great way to ensure you get what you want. Be specific if the brand you choose requires customization on colors or style. Bonus points if the gifter stuffs it with smaller items on your registry.