When we laid out the 6 Different Diaper Bag Personalities (Jetsetter Mama, Outdoors Mama, Prepared-for-Anything Mama, Fashion-Focused Mama, Minimalist Mama, and Environmental Mama), we started with the premise that to know which diaper bag is right for you, you have to start by thinking about your values and your lifestyle.
For each of these “Personalities” we had a different diaper bag in mind, as different moms (and dads!) have totally varied approaches to day-to-day life with their little ones. And while there is some crossover across personality types, there’s also some crossover in what diaper bag type matches each personality.
A trip to the playground brings about different needs than an all-day hiking trip or a cross-country flight. In some instances, you may prioritize style and fashion, while other days it’s organization and function that are more important.
It’s good to know the benefits and drawbacks of each type of diaper bag before you decide to invest in one for yourself or as a gift for someone else. If you have a good idea of the “diaper bag personality” of who you’re buying for, then take a look at these pros and cons of each diaper bag type to see which makes the best choice.
Diaper Bag Tote
This is the traditional style of diaper bag – what first comes to mind for soon-to-be parents as they begin their baby shower registries. It’s made to carry all that you need for a full day out, complete with multiple pockets to keep all your items organized in their own designated spots. We had this bag in mind for the Prepared-For-Anything Mamas who are often a fan of the space and organization offered by this classic tote.
- Pros: You’ll never be unprepared; there’s space for everything (even multiples of everything), and the designated compartments keep you organized so you know where things live. Great for keeping in the bottom of a bigger stroller or your car.
- Cons: Straps can be short/hard to keep on, weight is imbalanced, and the size invites overpacking, making it heavy and more difficult to find things if you’re not on top of your organization. Not ideal for being super active or bicycling.
Leather or Canvas Tote Bag
Not into the diaper bag look? Take your favorite tote – canvas, leather or otherwise – and turn it into your go-to baby bag. The Fashion-Focused Mamas know all about this.
- Pros: Can be any style you want and doesn’t scream “diaper bag!” The bag itself is usually lightweight, easy to throw over your shoulder and reach in without dealing with zippers or multiple compartments
- Cons: There’s no built-in organization, so it can be hard to find what you need–or even know if you have all you need to be organized. The weight can be imbalanced across your body, and there’s usually no top closure so things can fall out or get wet. Also, there may not be enough space to hold all that you need for a full day out.
Hack: Add an insert to create organization! There are many options out there allowing you to transform your favorite tote into a diaper bag
2015 gave the world the gift of diaper backpacks--otherwise known as backpacks with extra compartments designed for all your baby’s needs. The diaper backpack is a go-to for the Outdoors Mamas and Jetsetter Mamas who need to be prepared with all of the necessities while also having both hands free.
- Pros: These keep weight evenly distributed on both shoulders and provide plenty of organized space. This usually includes insulated pockets for bottles, and often a wipes compartment. There is usually a pocket you can access from the outside, and many come in unisex styles.
- Cons: The main drawbacks apply to those of us who babywear or sweat a lot. If you’re a sweat-er, you may find that your shoulders or back are damp after a while. The backpack straps make babywearing difficult because the bag and the carrier/wrap both need to be on your shoulders. It can also be difficult to access the bag while you’re wearing it (especially if you’re wearing your baby) and it can be a lot of weight on your shoulders.
A more minimal solution, these bags are designed to live on your stroller and hold all the essentials in an easy-to-access spot. This is one of several bags that fit the needs of the Minimalist Mama who likes to keep things simple and organized.
- Cons: It’s only useful as long as you’re with your stroller. If you plan to leave your stroller to play or walk around, the zip off pocket may not hold all you need and you may leave your phone/wallet in a vulnerable place.
Primarily intended as a portable changing pad with space for diapering essentials, this may hold all you truly need. This one also suits the Minimalist Mama depending on how active she is, but would likely be shoved into a larger bag by the Prepared-for-Anything Mamas!
- Pros: The changing pad is usually large enough for a toddler with pockets inside that make it easy to organize wipes and diapers. There’s also usually a small pocket for parent essentials like a phone or maybe a small wallet.
- Cons: There’s no easy way to carry or wear the clutch when you’re running around, and storage space is limited – usually only fitting a couple diapers and no other essentials (i.e. snacks, bottles, toys, change of clothes).
Convertible Diaper Bag
Can’t commit to one style or wearing preference? A convertible diaper bag has straps that go from shoulder bag to backpack. Depending on the design (for Fashion-Focused Mamas) and materials (for Environmental Mamas who prioritizes sustainability), this bag could potentially suit any diaper bag personality.
- Pros: Different strap options allow for the easy access of a shoulder bag when you need it, or provide the even weight distribution of a backpack that’s out of your way. If you’re sharing this bag with your partner, you can each wear it in the way you prefer.
- Cons: Usually the straps that allow for easy conversion aren’t the most comfortable for both uses–those that are super comfortable backpack straps can’t convert to shoulder bags, and the thinner straps of a shoulder bag can dig into your shoulders when worn as a backpack.
Fanny Pack Diaper Bag
The fanny pack diaper bag is a minimal solution for diaper bag essentials and a favorite for the Minimalist Mamas. It’s not made for full-day trips, but designed to hold everything parents and little ones need when out and about.
- Pros: Organized compartments for those essentials you can’t leave home or the car without, lightweight and compact so it doesn’t get in the way or weigh you down, and can be worn on your waist or crossbody – keeping all you need at your fingertips. It can also live inside a larger bag and taken out as needed to minimize what you’re carrying.
- Cons: The small size doesn’t allow for large water bottles or multiples of baby bottles, full change of clothes or other items you may need for longer trips out of the house.
For many moms and dads out there, there’s not one specific diaper bag type that suits every need, or even every mood! Many of us have multiple options that we use depending on what we’re doing and where we’re going. Your everyday bag is likely different from your day trip or travel bag, and may even be different from a bag that you share with your partner. Luckily, there are many options to choose from that fit your personality and your budget.