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The Pros & Cons of Each Diaper Bag Type

The Pros & Cons of Each Diaper Bag Type

These days, you have a number of diaper bag types to choose from.

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 type is right for you, you have to start by thinking about your values and your lifestyle.

For each of these diaper bag personalities we identified, we had a different diaper bag in mind. After all, 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.

Mom wearing Kibou fanny pack diaper bag in charcoal

How to Pick the Perfect Diaper Bag

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 on other days, it’s organization and function that are more important. 

You want to know the good and not-so-good of each diaper bag type before you decide to invest in one for yourself or as a gift for someone else. 

In this article, we discuss these diaper bag types:

  • Diaper bag tote
  • Leather/canvas tote bag (not originally designed as a diaper bag)
  • Backpack diaper bags
  • Stroller organizer
  • Diaper clutch
  • Messenger diaper bags
  • Convertible diaper bag
  • Fanny pack diaper bag

Get ready for the pros and cons rundown of each to help make it easier to align on the best diaper bag purchase for you (or someone you love).

Diaper bag tote

Diaper Bag Tote 

This is the traditional style of a diaper bag most are familiar with and what soon-to-be parents notice as an option to add to their baby shower registry. 

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. This is 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 in your car as a big diaper bag back up.
  • 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, bicycling, or looking to focus on a more minimal lifestyle.

    Tote bag

    Leather or Canvas Tote Bag

    Not into the diaper bag look? Take your favorite tote – canvas, leather, or otherwise – and turn it into your customized baby bag. The Fashion-Focused Mamas who want a bag styled for them 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.    
    Pro-Tip: Add an insert to create organized pockets! There are many options out there allowing you to transform your favorite tote into a diaper bag if that’s what you desire.

    Backpack diaper bags

    Backpack Diaper Bags

    For those who love carrying backpacks, you can continue the trend and carry a backpack diaper bag for your little ones. These are backpacks specifically designed with extra compartments 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 put a lot of weight on your shoulders, resulting in shoulder pain.
      stroller organizer diaper bag attachment

      Stroller Organizer

      A more minimal solution, these types of diaper bags are designed to live on your stroller as an attachment and hold limited 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, accessible, and organized.

      • Pros: You don’t have to carry anything because it attaches right to your stroller handles. There’s usually a spot for a coffee cup or water bottle. It’s also easy to see/grab exactly what your little ones need while on the go.
      • Cons: It’s very limited in space and 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.

      Diaper Clutch

      Primarily intended as a portable changing pad with space for diapering essentials, this may hold all you truly need for a short outing. 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 of diapers and no other essentials (i.e. snacks, bottles, toys, change of clothes). 

      Messenger Diaper Bags

      The messenger diaper bags are favored by moms and dads who prefer that “work bag” look. Some messenger diaper bags you can even purchase with room to store a laptop. These are typically slung over the shoulder, hanging a little lower than the traditional diaper bag tote, or worn as a crossbody diaper bag across the chest.

      • Pros: Depending on what you need to store, a messenger diaper bag could potentially carry both your work items (laptop, planner, writing utensils) and enough baby essentials for the day (diapers, wipes, change of clothes, extra bottles). It tends to be a slimmer style than the backpack diaper bag and can be easier to access what you need.
      • Cons: Carrying this diaper bag on one shoulder can cause all the weight to be on one side of the body, affecting longer-term comfort. If lots of storage is a priority, these bags don’t tend to be able to hold as much as some backpack diaper bags or diaper bag totes.

        convertible diaper bag

        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 prioritize sustainability), this bag could potentially suit any diaper bag personality.

        • Pros: Different strap options allow for easy access to 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.
          Kibou fanny pack diaper bag in brown

          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 compact and designed to hold just what parents need when out and about with their little ones.

          • Pros: Organized compartments for those essentials you can’t leave home or the car without. This means items like 2-3 diapers, baby wipes, car keys, cash, credit cards, and your ID. It’s lightweight and compact, so it doesn’t get in the way or weigh you down. It can be worn on your waist or crossbody – keeping all you need at your fingertips. It can also become the perfect grab-and-go bag that fits inside a larger diaper bag and be taken out as needed to minimize what you’re carrying.
          • Cons: The small size doesn’t allow for large or extra items. This would include items such as large water bottles or multiples of baby bottles, a 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.

          Diaper Bag FAQs

          Can any bag be a diaper bag?

          Some parents like to convert canvas tote bags or backpacks they already have into a diaper bag. What’s important is to understand the number of items you need to carry and choosing the right bag to transport what you need. There are options to purchase a diaper bag insert to organize your baby’s essentials as well.

          How much should I spend on a diaper bag?

          You can buy a higher-quality diaper bag anywhere from $50-$100. You might be willing to spend more if it’s a diaper bag you want to use for many years or with multiple kids. Some diaper bags are made with premium materials which make them more expensive, but also more durable long-term.

          What is a good weight for a diaper bag?

          No matter the different styles of diaper bags, you want to look for one which is light and easy to carry. Look for materials that don’t weigh more than 2-3 pounds on it’s own. Be sure the weight is evenly distributed once you fill your diaper bag with your baby’s essentials to make it more comfortable on your shoulders, neck, and back.

          What is the best material for a diaper bag?

          The best materials for a diaper bag need to be light in weight and easy to clean. Diaper bags will see multiple messes with feedings and diaper changes. Materials such as vegan leather and nylon tend to be easy to wipe down on the go with your little one.



          View our collection of Kibou minimal diaper bags and join our newsletter to get $10 off your first purchase + free shipping over $50!


          Originally written by Janice Yucel December 2020 and updated by Allison Ditmer October 11, 2023.

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