If you have a young baby, society simultaneously pressures new parents to have the most fashionable and expensive diaper bag, while at the same time saying they’re an unnecessary waste of money.
There are many reasons why I’m parents prefer a dedicated diaper bag, even if you already have other options. In this article we will explore the arguments for and against having a diaper bag as well as what alternatives exist, so you can decide for yourself whether or not it’s worth investing in one!
Diaper bags – do I really need one?
Buying a bag specifically for passing around your baby’s diapers and other supplies feels like a bit of a superfluous purchase at face value. I must admit though, if not for the fact that my stroller came with a very basic diaper bag, I think I would have had a harder time in the first years of my babies’ lives.
You will need a way of carrying your baby stuff, and specifically designed diaper bags make getting out with your baby much more convenient. Ultimately any bag you put these items in is a diaper bag, though.
Parents can get along just fine without a fancy diaper bag, but there are a few reasons why this purchase may end up on your “must have” list.
The benefits of having a dedicated diaper bag
- You can use it as your hospital bag – having a dedicated bag for your newborn’s items to take to the hospital will make it super easy for everyone to know exactly where to go to get that newborn diaper or coming home outfit.
- They open wide at the top – Most diaper bags open wide to make getting even the most challenging items in and out a simple endeavor, and you’re less likely to drop all of baby’s stuff on the floor while trying to find something at the bottom.
- You can rely on the contents – When a bag specifically has one purpose, you can more confidently rely on it. How many times have you put your wallet into a fancier handbag to take out to lunch, only to forget to put it back into your everyday handbag?
- They can save time – If you need to leave the house at short notice, the last thing you want to do is to go looking for the portable baby wipe dispenser. With a dedicated diaper bag, the portable baby wipe dispenser lives in the bag at all times.
- It’s less likely to be used for other things – A dedicated diaper bag is much less likely to be picked up by another member of the family and used for something else. An older child is less likely to want to take a traditional diaper bag to their next sleepover, for example.
- If it gets dirty, no one else is inconvenienced – there is a reason why diaper bags are made with a tough and water resistant/proof fabric; babies are messy and there will be fluids and food everywhere! A bit of spilled milk on a diaper bag is not going to be a surprise find on dad’s backpack and he next goes to work. There won’t be any rogue dirty diapers in your handbag!
- They are big enough for carrying items for multiple children – parents with older babies and a newborn will appreciate being able to carry everything they need multiple kids in the one bag.
What are the features of a diaper bag?
Some of the features you can expect diaper bags to come with include:
- Insulated pouches – Your baby’s breast milk or temperate water for formula will stay at a reliable temperature for a whole lot longer in an insulated pouch. When it comes time to start introducing solids to your little one, you can also make sure food jars or sachets don’t turn to liquid in the heat.
- Changing pad – you can’t always rely on a venue to have a dedicated baby changing area, but your diaper bag is very likely to come with a fold-out changing pad that is easy to clean. I generally used my changing pad on top of the dedicated changing area, so that I could be sure I was placing my baby on a safe surface.
- Waterproof pockets – They won’t just protect you from your baby’s milk being spilled – waterproof pockets will also be an incredibly welcome feature when you experience the inevitable poo-nami, and have to change your baby’s entire outfit. Cleaning it out might not be so fantastic, but at least you won’t have leaked bodily fluids over everything on your journey home.
- Easy to clean fabric – most diaper bags are designed with their use in mind, and children are messy! you can expect your diaper bag to be made of a easy to clean fabric (think something wipeable!) and include reinforcement on the teams to make it more rugged.
- Dedicated spots for baby essentials – I found that my diaper bag was fantastic for getting on the road quickly because I could simply open it up and look at each of the key sections to make sure something was in it. A medium-size pouch had four diapers, ( well, at least two!) another medium pouch had the wipes, the main section had a change of clothes and a few small toys and the long thin section had the changing pad. all I had to do was talk in a bottle of temperate water into the insulated pouch and I was good to go.
Why you might choose not to buy a diaper bag
Sure diaper bags are super convenient ways of carrying around your baby items, but just because a product exists doesn’t mean it is the best thing for you and your family. Here are a few reasons why you might choose not to buy a diaper bag, and use a regular bag instead.
- Save the expense – While you can My diaper bags at a reasonable price, you can certainly buy some expensive ones too! particularly if you are not planning to have more than one child, you may be able to put this money toward something else.
- You don’t travel much – If you are not often taking baby out for long trips, using the pockets or undercarriage of your stroller might be all you need to store baby items.
- You already have lots of bags – Plenty of families will use a regular backpack to carry baby’s things around; if you have a good quality one it will likely be able to be used well beyond your need to carry diaper cream and a burp cloth around!
- They are too big – Most diaper bags are designed to carry around what can feel like everything including the kitchen sink! there are pockets for a portable changing pad, wipes, diapers, bottles, burp rags, changes of clothes, and all sorts of other items. Particularly if you are in an inner-city location and are using a small stroller, a diaper bag may take up more space than you have the means to easily carry.
What to look for when deciding on a diaper bag
Here are a few things you should consider before spending your money on a diaper bag.
Size – How much space do you actually have in your stroller basket/undercarriage of the handles? Do you want something that will fit under the stroller or sit on top of it? Are there plenty of pockets for what you need?
Material – Do you prefer a canvas bag, something with leather accents, or is price more important than material quality. You can even find some that are made with recycled material.
Ease of use – How do you want to open the bag? Do you have somewhere specific in mind to carry it, or do you plan on wearing it?
Durability – Do you live somewhere that is very wet and sunny? What kind of fabric do you want your diaper bag to be made out of (ie. canvas vs mesh)?
Cost – Do you need it right now or can you wait for sales and coupons?
Length of use – How many children do you plan to have? – If you’re planning on one child, can you get away with using another regular bag? On the other hand, if this will be part of your family for years to come, do you want to spend a little more for durability?
Extra features – Do you need insulated pockets or do you plan on carrying bottles with it as well? can you get away with purchasing a separate insulated bottle accessory, or would you prefer all of the functionality to be included in the diaper bag itself?
Design – who will be using the diaper bag? will you be looking at messenger bags or backpacks? Do you want To find a bag that more closely resembles a day-to-day tote bag?
In conclusion – The need to buy a diaper bag is mostly a personal preference
Whether you do or do not want one, there are many things to consider before making the purchase. These include size, material, design (messenger bags vs backpacks), and cost. If money isn’t an issue for you at this time in your life but space is limited on your stroller handles or inside of it’s undercarriage then choosing a messenger style might be best for you!
For families who already have enough gear that they carry around with them on their daily adventures outside of home, buying another specialized item may just add unnecessary expense and weight to what they’re already carrying around.
Don’t forget that any bag you put your baby items in is technically a diaper bag – it doesn’t need to be purchased at a baby store to be functional. You also don’t need to have a dedicated diaper bag before your baby arrives, so you can always take a little time to work out what you need to carry for your family before making a purchase.