Our top picks for where to store your baby stuff -- that don't actually look like diaper bags.
No one needs a diaper bag, but everyone should have one. It's not a necessary item for new parents, but it makes life a lot easier. Sure, any bag can carry your things, but diaper bags are designed specifically for parents that need to take frequent trips to the changing table. Diapers, baby wipes, a foldable changing mat, pacifiers and a spare change of clothes are among the things you should carry with you at all times. That is a lot to carry, but a diaper bag makes it much easier. You can even find some more stylish options with bells and whistles like insulated bottle pockets and built-in USB chargers.
With dozens of options available, I tested several of the bestselling diaper bags in the midbudget range to help you pick the best one for all your baby gear needs. (You can also find our picks for the best baby monitors and the best nursing bras.)
Read more: Diaper Bag Checklist: 17 Essentials to Pack
Here's how my top picks for the best diaper bags stacked up against each other.
|BabbleRoo Diaper Bag Backpack||Skip Hop Forma Quilted Diaper Backpack||Skip Hop Mainframe Diaper Backpack||Columbia Carson Pass Backpack Diaper Bag||Miss Fong Leather Diaper Bag Backpack|
Price (at time of publication)
12L x 8W x 16.5H
16L x 8W x 14H
15L x 7W x 15H
12L X 7W X 17H
12.5L X 6W X 12H
BabbleRoo's Diaper Bag Backpack is a top seller on Amazon, for good reason. It has more compartments and pockets than almost any other on this list (18), and the most cushioned, supportive straps of all the bags I tested. BabbleRoo's backpack includes three insulated bottle holders, a changing pad, a wipes pocket and a removable pacifier holder. Within the two main compartments, you'll find extra pockets and zippered mesh compartments, which make it easier to find small items quickly.
If you're considering this diaper bag, you may be wondering how it compares to the Ruvalino, Amazon's No. 1 bestselling diaper bag backpack. The two are very similar in terms of size and pocket layout. But for me, the BabbleRoo wins due to the thicker cushioning on the straps, the three insulated bottle holders instead of two, and the addition of stroller clips and the pacifier holder. Though both bags are made of polyester, Ruvalino's has more of a shiny-fabric quality, while the BabbleRoo appears more like cloth (though this may be due to the colors I selected). However, if weight is your main concern, the Ruvalino is noticeably lighter than the BabbleRoo, at 1.78 compared to 2.2 pounds.
Full disclosure: This is the diaper bag I registered for and own. However, COVID has limited my family's outings so much that we've only taken it out a handful of times. It still underwent the same testing as the other backpacks on this list.
The Skip Hop Forma Backpack Diaper Bag probably looks the most like a diaper bag compared to the others on this list due to its quilted design. But it's Skip Hop's best-selling bag for a reason: It's surprisingly sturdy and can stand up on its own without tipping over. The Forma features a roomy main compartment with a changing pad and a couple of pockets and two insulated bottle pockets on the sides. It also has a designated phone pocket in its frontmost compartment.
Another feature that makes this bag stand out from the crowd is the two removable packing cubes located in the front compartment: One made of mesh to put those smaller items like pacifiers or socks that might otherwise get lost, and a second made of insulated material to hold another bottle. Its straps aren't the most cushioned, but since the Forma weighs only 1.4 pounds, it's less of an issue.
Another Skip Hop option, the Mainframe Wide Open is a sleek-looking bag that reminds me a bit of the Tumi Voyageur backpack (except, you know, a diaper bag). It's the widest option on this list, and also has the roomiest main compartment. Where this bag stands out is its clever design: When you open that main compartment, it can stay open on its own, and, like the Forma, it stands up on its own, too. Also like the Forma, you'll find a changing pad and two pockets in the main compartment, but otherwise, it's up to you to organize as you please (or just throw everything in). But that stay-open feature makes it easier to dig through. Another front pocket has a magnetic button to open and close for one-handed access.
The Mainframe also includes a phone pocket in its front compartment and two insulated bottle holders on the sides. Its straps don't include any padding, but since the bag is also pretty lightweight at 1.8 pounds, it didn't bother me. (However, I haven't used it for long enough to say if it would dig into your shoulders after a while.)
The Columbia Carson Pass Backpack Diaper Bag looks the most like a typical backpack compared to others on this list. It's the lightest and most compact option here, at just slightly over 1 pound. It features a full mesh back and straps for comfort and 12 pockets (though some are clearly more useful than others based on size). Its change mat, pockets and the floor of the main compartment include a special treatment that protects against bacterial odors and stains, and Ultra Safe wipe-clean surfaces (which means they meet Food and Drug Administration safety requirements that are BPA-, PVS-, lead- and phthalate-free, along with being easy to wipe down).
However, its sleek sportiness does mean you sacrifice some room: It only has one insulated bottle pocket (though two mesh pockets on the sides), and it is less roomy than most others on this list. But if you're more of a minimalist parent, or just looking for something to take with you on hikes or shorter outings, this is a great option.
If you're looking at this backpack, you may be wondering how it compares to the Eddie Bauer Places & Spaces Bridgeport Diaper Bag Backpack. For me, the Columbia wins since it opens wider and is lighter.
The Miss Fong Leather Diaper Bag Backpack is actually made of nylon, but its classic design and half-moon shape make it look like a higher-end product without the higher-end price tag of a competitor like Freshly Picked. The main compartment is roomy and well-organized, with six pockets, two insulated bottle warmers and seven more compartments and pockets around the outside of the bag. It also includes a changing pad.
The Miss Fong Leather Diaper Bag Backpack is the only convertible bag on the list, and comes with a strap that turns it into a crossbody bag, as well as stroller straps. One caveat: It's the heaviest bag I tested, weighing 3.2 pounds, so it may not be the best for those planning to do a lot of walking. But if you're mostly looking for something to throw in the car and take with you to stores and restaurants, this is a solid option.
In addition to the diaper bags listed above, I tested the following options:
Read more: Baby Registry Checklist: 10 Baby Products I Wish I'd Asked For
To determine which diaper bags to test for this list, I looked at the bestselling diaper bag backpacks across Amazon, Walmart, Target, BuyBuyBaby and BabyList. I selected those that fall into the midprice range of $40 to $80. However, there are many budget options for under $40 and luxury options for over $100 available. For the purposes of this list, I did not test diaper totes, messenger bags, diaper clutches or portable changing stations.
Once I narrowed down my selection, I filled each diaper bag with my collection of baby items for my 5-month-old (diapers, wipes, burp cloths, clothes, car seat cover, bottles, changing pad, snack bars for myself), tried them on and evaluated them on the following criteria:
I tried to test these objectively based on those criteria, but of course, some of my personal preferences are involved here. I also did not test durability over time or specifics like how effective the insulated bottle pockets are at keeping bottles cool or warm.
Another note: Many of these bags feature stroller clips, which you can attach to the back of your stroller. You'll also likely find a manufacturer's warning that doing so can be dangerous, as heavier bags could cause the stroller to tip backward. The safest way to carry your diaper bag is in the basket under your stroller instead of clipped onto it.
Read more: Baby Registry Checklist: 10 Baby Products I Wish I'd Asked For
Like anything else when it comes to baby things, the right thing for you depends on your individual needs. Think about what your typical week with a baby might look like (harder said than done before your first arrives, I know): Will you mostly be throwing a bag in the car and driving to visit family, run errands or do a daycare drop-off? Will you be going on lots of walks or hikes? Will you primarily be breastfeeding if you're able to, or would it be helpful to have insulated bottle holders for pumped milk or formula? What look do you like? You may not know the answer to many of these questions until the baby arrives and you get into the swing of things. But thinking about it may help guide you toward an option to start with.
For more, check out our list of the best diapers and the best breast pumps.