mom with baby and diaper bag

Choosing a Diaper Bag: A Guide for New Parents

Finding a diaper bag that holds everything you need in a convenient, easily accessible way can be an overwhelming journey. There are thousands of different options, from diaper bag backpacks to totes and messenger bags. But which style is best for you and your little one? As one of the most essential pieces of baby gear you will be using, it can be a challenging decision to make. To help, we've put together a few tips on how to choose a diaper bag based on your schedule, lifestyle, and personal preferences.

Why Are Diaper Bags So Important?

As a new parent, you'll need a diaper bag if you ever want to leave the house with your newborn—trust us. A diaper bag is one of the most-used pieces of baby gear that you'll add to your inventory. It helps keep you organized and is designed to fit everything you need in one place when you're out and about.

Although traditional bags or backpacks can help you carry things, diaper bags usually have more compartments, pockets, and sections to help you find exactly what you need when you need them. Still, if you already have the perfect bag that is large enough and easy to carry around, you don't necessarily need one specifically made for diapers and wipes. A regular bag that fits in your stroller or can be carried on your back is absolutely fine! Again, it comes down to personal preference.

What to Put Inside of Your Diaper Bag

That said, diaper bags definitely come in handy, especially when you consider everything you'll need to care for your baby away from the house. The items most new parents carry in their diaper bags typically include essentials like:

  • Diapers (plan to have 1-2 diapers for every hour you'll be out)
  • Trash bags for dirty diapers
  • Wipes
  • Diaper cream
  • Nursing gear
  • Pacifiers
  • Bibs
  • Sippy cup
  • Breast milk or formula
  • Burp cloths
  • Bottles
  • A blanket
  • A portable changing pad
  • An extra set of clothes or two
  • Swaddle or wrap for babywearing
  • A few toys
  • A favorite stuffed animal
  • Teething items
  • Some healthy snacks
  • Water
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Medications

The perfect diaper bag for your newborn requires a bit of extra room, as you may need space to bring different things for breast pumping. Additional contents you'll want to think about when pumping include your breast pump, clean flanges or cups, milk freezer bags, and something to quickly sanitize the components when you're done (or before you start). Here are some more travel tips with a newborn to help things go smoothly.

Different Types of Diaper Bags to Consider

There are so many different diaper bags available on the market, each with unique advantages and disadvantages. Often, the biggest determining factor is personal preference. Some people prefer a hands-free option, while others may want a traditional bag with easy-to-carry straps like a purse. So, the first step is differentiating between the types of bags, which are as follows.

Backpack-Style Bag

A diaper bag backpack is a great option for parents who want to keep their hands free. It has two straps that can be worn over each shoulder, just like when you were in high school. The backpack should fit ergonomically, with the bag portion resting between your shoulder blades and above the hips. Ideally, the straps are adjustable, and the bottom is secure. It should also be large enough to carry everything you need.

Messenger Bags

Another option is a messenger bag with one long strap that can be worn across the body. Some styles are designed to look more professional, and they can be used by both parents. Other styles look like purses and are available in various colors and styles. However, cross-body bags don't do a great job evenly distributing the weight of what's inside. So, if you have a large diaper bag in messenger style, you might experience some discomfort after a while. Ideally, keep the bag weighing less than 10% of your body weight. The bottom of the bag should be above your hips for maximum comfort.

Tote Bags

Tote designs are more traditional diaper bag styles with two handles that can be carried like a suitcase. This is a style of bag that looks like a duffel and has a ton of versatility. Tote diaper bags are perfect for families with multiple kids or parents who will use the bag when leaving their child at daycare or with family. However, totes are available in multiple sizes, so they can also be ideal if you have one child and are looking for a bag with easier access than a messenger or backpack.

Fanny Pack Diaper Bags

Fanny pack diaper bags are good for quick trips of older children, as they tend to be smaller than traditional options. You wear the bag like a normal fanny pack across the waist, so you can imagine the difference in size. However, if you're going to be running a fast errand or your children are a bit older and don't require as many products, these options are super convenient and easy to carry around.

Stroller Bags

There are also options for a stroller diaper bag with long enough straps to drape over the handlebars. While this attaches the bag to your stroller without taking up extra space, we don't recommend doing so. Several manufacturers and reports advise against hanging anything on the handlebars, as excess weight could cause the stroller to tip backward. This can be dangerous for your newborn, so it's best to find a bag that can fit in the stroller basket underneath the seat or be easily carried.

Best Features to Consider When Choosing a Diaper Bag

When trying to find the best diaper bag, it's important to consider the features, durability, and size. A faux leather diaper bag might be stylish and trendy, but do you really want to choose something strictly based on looks? Here's everything you need to consider when finding the right diaper bag.

  • Size — How big of a bag do you need? Do you have one child, twins or triplets, or a few across different age groups? Try to assess your needs in advance before purchasing a new bag.
  • Space — Baby diaper bags are designed with plenty of pockets and compartments for extra storage. Try to find one that has a place for everything you need to help you stay organized.
  • Insulated Cooler Pockets — New moms who plan to breast pump on the go might also want features that allow for safe milk storage. Insulated cooler pockets are great for this and can also keep snacks cold.
  • Washable Fabric — Another essential feature to look for is a diaper bag that's easy to clean. While a leather bag might be stylish, nylon is much more baby-friendly. Plus, it's lighter and stain-resistant. Other options include microfiber, polyester, and cotton.
  • Ease of Closure — Trying to balance a baby in one arm while you open your diaper bag can be exhausting, so look for something easy to open and close. Magnetic closures are becoming increasingly popular for moms on the go.
  • Ergonomic Design — One of the most important features is that the diaper bag is comfortable. You don't want something physically painful to carry around. Try on a few options and see what feels best.
  • Strong Base — A diaper bag that stands up on its own is a great option to help maximize stability. The bottom should be flat and sturdy, which helps reduce the risk of everything spilling out when you set it down.

How Much Do Diaper Bags Cost?

Finding the perfect diaper bag can be a process, but the cost still matters. To save money, opt for one of the unisex bags on the market that can be confidently worn by mom and dad. Luckily, there are also bags made for every budget. Some of the most affordable bags start at $30, while luxury bags can exceed $150. You don't have to buy the most expensive option, as cost doesn't always equate to quality. Do your research and prioritize finding one you can carry for long periods without getting tired. Pro tip: do your research ahead of your shower so you can include your preferred diaper bag on your baby registry.

Leaving the house with a newborn, baby, or toddler can feel like an extreme sport, but with the right bag, you'll be prepared for whatever happens. Don't forget to order your insurance-covered breast pump as you stock up on all the essentials. Byram Healthcare makes ordering easy for new and expecting mothers. We also offer several options for ordering breast pump replacement parts and accessories. If you need any assistance throughout the process, don’t hesitate to contact one of our specialists today.