Ahhh…the diaper bag. Once a basic sack for carrying diapers and wipes, it has now evolved to the equivalent of an all-purpose, Swiss army knife like accessory for new parents. With multiple compartments, plastic interiors, changing pads and even a cushioned pocket for your laptop, today’s diaper bag is not only more functional, but also more fashionable. There is an abundance of styles and sizes from which to choose, so here are a few tips to help determine the bag that will work best for you.
- Budget. With major designers such as Burberry, Kate Spade and Marc Jacobs, you could spend hundreds of dollars on your diaper bag. But be sure that aesthetics do not trump functionality. You can get an attractive yet functional diaper bag for a fraction of the cost. Decide what is important to you…you may even discover you could use 2 diaper bags for different occasions, and want to budget for that as well.
- Style. Consider the use…long trips, daily use, or the occasional errand. I suggest using the free diaper bag the hospital gives you first. That way, you can see what works for you…even see what other moms who bring their baby to gymboree or the gym nursery are carrying. You may want to have a stylish neutral bag Dad wouldn’t mind carrying or forego the subtle hint and get an all out masculine diaper bag such as the Diaper Dude Diaper Bag. From totes to backpacks to clutches, there are a plethora of styles to choose from for various baby outings.
- Size. Bigger is not always better. Although most diaper bags today come with comfortable shoulder straps and options of hanging them on your stroller, you will still need to hold the bag and baby. And even though you will want to carry a change of clothes for your baby, remember baby clothes take less room than your adult sized clothes and shoes. Some mothers like a larger bag and are prepared for anything; other mothers toss a couple of diapers, wipes and bottle into a bag before heading out. The size that works for you will fit your personality. And many find that having a smaller diaper bag for quick errands and larger one for all day or overnight visits works best for them.
- Features. No matter the budget, style or size, there are some features you will not want to compromise.
- Compartments. You will want enough compartments to make the space as organized as possible. It doesn’t matter if you can fit everything into your bag, if it is not organized, you will not be able to reach the wipes easily when an accident happens, or you will miss the pediatrician’s call while digging in your bag for your cell phone. You want to make sure items needed quickly are not hard to reach.
- Comfort. Make sure the bag has wide, strong, comfortable shoulder straps. When the bag is loaded up, you want to be sure it is still comfortable and the weight is evenly distributed.
- Durability. No matter how easy it was to keep your purse clean and scuff free, your diaper bag will need to withstand a lot more wear and tear. You want to make sure the zippers and pockets are not hard to close or made of material that might easily break. And of course, top of my list is to make sure the diaper bag is easy to wipe clean. Look for a diaper bag that’s made of micro fiber, vinyl or another material you can easily wipe off with a damp cloth.
- Extra Features. Insulated compartments are great for storing your baby’s bottle or toddler’s sippy cup. These compartments are waterproof, which can also save lots of time and energy cleaning up leaky bottles or cups. Would you like a changing pad to make baby changes clean, comfortable and portable for your baby? Many bags come with a fold out changing pad. There are also such features as a cell phone pocket, “no more digging” key rings, detachable zip pouches and removable dirty clothing bags.
The diaper bag is one of the most important, useful items any parent can buy. Organization is paramount to surviving the challenges that face you on outings outside the home. Choose the right one and before you know it you’ll actually be a professional road warrior, capable of handling anything your new baby can throw at you.