Let’s talk diaper bags. With so many styles and options, it can be hard to choose. Here, we break down all the questions to ask yourself and features you want to consider, and we share some great diaper bag options. Diaper bag 101 is coming right up.

How many compartments do you need, and what kind?
Some diaper bags have tons of pockets to keep you organized. Before you buy, think about what you’ll be carrying to make sure the bag has both the quantity and the kind of compartments you need. Pockets are only helpful if they’re the right size for what you’ll be toting around.

Bags from brands such as Ju-Ju-Be (some options pictured above) feature a variety of pockets, from a large “parent pocket” for your wallet, keys, sunglasses and other essentials, insulated bottle pockets, and lots of roomy interior pockets with gussets or zippers. Some Ju-Ju-Be pockets even have crumb drains to minimize messes. Clever!

Is the bag waterproof or machine-washable? Does it include a changing pad, wet bag or removable pouches?
Life with babies can get messy. Bottle spills, blowouts and other bad luck can wreak havoc on your bag, so a waterproof or water-resistant fabric or the ability to throw the whole thing in the washing machine keeps your bag looking its best.

Also, find out if the bag you’re eyeing includes a changing pad, wet bag or other accessories. If not, that’s an additional expense, and you’ll have to track down items that fit the dimensions of the bag. The Forma Diaper Tote from Skip Hop (pictured above, $70) comes with a cushioned changing pad, a mesh storage cube for snacks or clothing, and an insulated cube to keep milk or food cold.

What style of bag do you prefer to carry: backpack, tote or crossover/messenger?
Think about how you’ll use the bag and what else you’ll be carrying with it, like your baby, for instance. A backpack may be more gentle on your spine than the other styles, while you’ll have an easier time getting items in and out of a tote. A crossover/messenger bag offers a combo of back support and ease of use but can be tricky to pair with a baby carrier. As you’re deciding, make note of features like padded straps and lightweight materials, since you’ll be filling that bag with lots of stuff for you and baby.

If you’re unsure of what you’ll need or like to change things up, there are convertible options like the Nuna diaper bag (pictured above, $179.95), which can be worn in all three styles. It includes an insulated bag for bottles and a removable changing pad clutch, along with elastic bottle straps and tons of pockets.

Can you use it as an overnight bag or carry-on bag when baby is older?
Your little one won’t be small forever (sniff). So if you want to get maximum usage out of your purchase, look for one you can repurpose when the diaper days are over. A roomy bag in a classic color or print can find a second life as an overnight tote, carry-on bag or even a gym bag. The wet bag you use for stained baby clothes now could come in handy for your sweaty gym gear, and we can all use a plethora of pockets in our carry-on bags.

On the top of our list is the stylish and practical O.G. bag from Lo & Sons (pictured above, $295). Although technically not a diaper bag, it boasts tons of mom-friendly features, such as a removable messenger strap for carrying cross-body, a key leash, and lots of pockets in various sizes, including a roomy side pocket where you can tuck away diapers, an extra outfit or anything else you’d like to keep separate. Its little sister, the slightly smaller O.M.G. bag ($275), is another winning choice.

Do you want a gender-neutral bag?
Whether you prefer a less girlie style or will be sharing the bag with Dada, there are a lot of great bags with gender-neutral styling on the market. Here are some to consider: the JJ Cole Papago Pack (pictured above, $79.95), the Bratpack ($45), and bags from Diaper Dude ($59.99-$97.99).

The JJ Cole Papago Pack boasts 12 pockets in all, including insulated elasticized pockets for bottles or snacks, and a parent pocket with a key clip, credit card slots and room for a phone. The straps and back of the bag are padded for comfort, and you can wear it as a backpack or carry it by a handle at the top.

What size do you need?
Larger bags give you more bells and whistles, but the extra weight can slow you down. Some of these big bags attach to your stroller, which is handy, provided the stroller can support the weight of the bag. If you’ll be doing a lot of walking or want to keep a smaller diaper bag inside a larger bag, consider a small bag like My ChangePal (pictured above, $24.99-$29.99). Available in a variety of patterns and colors, this compact bag has three separate zippered compartments for diapers, wipes and a changing pad. It even boasts a built-in wipes holder so you don’t need a separate case for that.

Or, try the Skip Hop Pronto Signature Changing Station ($30). This stylish clutch features a zip-off changing pad, built-in pillow and a wipes case that’s translucent so you know when it’s time to refill. A mesh pocket holds diapers, cream and other essentials, and there’s another zippered pocket for your personal items. Slip it into a larger bag or wear it on your wrist.

Is an insert all you need?
If you have a great bag already, or you find one you love that doesn’t have enough pockets, then a bag insert like the Tote Savvy (pictured above, $40-$55) is all you need to transform any bag into the diaper bag of your dreams. The Tote Savvy includes 11 pockets, a key clasp and a washable changing mat, and it comes in a range of colors, from dark (great for hiding stains) and light (to make it easier to see what’s inside the bag).

Armed with all this information, you’ll have no problem finding the perfect diaper bag. It’s in the bag, babe!

ADVERTISEMENT

What do you think is the most important feature in a diaper bag? Share below.

— Eva Ingvarson Cerise

RELATED STORIES:

For the Long Haul: 18 Brilliant Diaper Bags

DIY Diaper Bag: Stylin’ Changing Clutch & Tote Combos You’ll Love

Target’s Exclusive Baby Line Now Has Diaper Bags & You’ll Want One Right Now