Do we really need a designated diaper bag?

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We are 35 weeks along and keep seeing all kinds of diaper bags: big ones, small ones, lots of ugly ones… but none we want to buy! I have back problems and always use sturdy backpacks to carry things in to balance the weight ( I don’t even use purses). I also hate that diaper bags are predominantly “for women” or marketed that way. My husband and I will be doing equal lugging around of said bag.

We have seen specialty “backpack” style diaper bags that are very expensive, and were hoping for a cheaper alternative. We are planning to breastfeed and cloth diaper, so don’t need bottle warmers and we have small cloth diaper carriers already (for stuffing in bags).

So the question is: why can’t we just use a normal backpack? What makes “specialty diaper bags” so different and special? — Vivi

So if you’re not using a diaper bag… what kind of bag ARE you using? Tell us in the comments and spread the knowledge!

Comments on Do we really need a designated diaper bag?

  1. You just need a bag that will hold the essential baby stuff. Don’t worry about how it’s labeled. We used a little zippered tote that was about the width of a diaper and eventually I just switched to a larger purse so I could carry a couple of diapers and a spare onesie when it was just the two of us (an advantage of breastfeeding–carrying less crap).

  2. We started out using a generic diaper bag from Target, and quickly discovered that those things aren’t really designed for anyone who rides the bus with a baby a lot. We switched over to a kid’s sized backpack after seven or so months, and now I can just put a snack and a “just in case” diaper in my purse when my son and I go out. ALL THIS TO SAY: I think you could totally use the backpack you want to use! I think it’s way more important that a diaper bag be something that’s comfortable for you AND functional than for it look like it’s a diaper bag.

  3. After experimenting with diaper bags, I realized that if my purse was big enough to hold my laptop, then it was also big enough to hold diapering supplies.

  4. Personally, I love diaper bags, but that’s because I LOVE bags and any excuse to get anew bag is golden. But really, you just need any bag that can fit your baby stuff. It should be a bag that you just use for baby outings so that it can stay packed and ready all the time. You don’t want to have to run around packing a bag when you want to leave. Just getting baby and yourself ready is hard enough. The backpack you have sounds just fine.

    • We use a back pack and my husband fine carrying it around. We have also used timbuc2 bags and other bags we had around. All worked better than the diaper bag we were given for a baby shower gift which was just way too small for all day outings with the cloth diapers and bottle cooler and spit rags…just go with what is comfortable and cheap.

  5. I didn’t bother to buy a diaper bag for my second baby because I was never satisfied with the experience with the first. We used a backpack and just remembered to keep waterproof things in it for cloth diapering, ie, wet bags, extra plastic baggies, etc.

  6. I found the big diaper bag I bought good if we were going away for a few days but too big for just quick trips. I got a free mini diaper backpack from a baby food company and it was perfect. Nice and small with good pockets.

    If you use something that isn’t specifically a “diaper bag” I would invest in a small change pad to throw in it for comfort and cleanliness while changing diapers.

    You never know what you may have to carry with you though. It turned out I had to excessively pump for my son, so along with the mini diaper backpack I always had another bag with my pump and supplies to pump on the go.

  7. I bought a great insert that I used for inside all my other bags, it has a change pad, room for 4 or five diapers, creams and a change of cloths. since I nurse I really don’t need much room. It came in black and has a handle so is great for my husband as well to toss in his backpack or car. We bought it at target.

  8. We never really bought a “diaper bag”, we did buy a fantastic laptop case made out of seatbelts that works fantastically, plus either my husband or I could carry it. I also use my purse a lot, or a backpack.

    You don’t need a “diaper bag” per say, you just need something that works for you.

  9. When my son was small, I would just carry a disposable diaper, a travel container of wipes, and a nursing cover in my purse. My purse is not huge, but it easily carried these supplies. We use a backpack for toddler supplies when we’re out and about all day, but I may switch over to a dedicated diaper bag for when our second little one is born. (Diapering supplies + toddler snacks + changes of clothes for both = a LOT of things to carry around.)

  10. Your baby needs food, a place sleep, and change of diapers. Anything besides that just exists to make your life easier. I use a diaper bag from lands end that I LOVE… however, sounds like the backpack works for you.

  11. I just ordered a backpack from Eddie Bauer. Can’t beat the sale price, and like you I wanted a bag that would be comfortable for myself and my partner.

    The great thing about their bags is that they have a lifetime warranty.

    I’m 36+5 weeks so We’ll see how it works shortly. I plan on using it for my hospital bag.

  12. I used a diaper bag with my first son, but always found it a little bulky and awkward. I even got one that was marketed to dads since I am the primary caregiver and carried it around more than my wife. The less that he needed though, the more I just stuck a few things in the satchel that I carry around for my tablet. It turned out with our second one, I did not really even need to use the diaper bag for most the day-to-day stuff. (New parents tend to over prepare a bit.) I still use it for long trips that are going to be a couple days or when we drop off the kids with our in-laws for babysitting, but that is about it.

  13. Personally I felt like hell would freeze over before I bought some cutesy cartoon or patchwork diaper bag. I bought a Skip Hop studio which looks like a large purse BUT it has a bazillion pockets to organize stuff. If you’re like me and obsessed with organizing.. it’s great. Though honestly I rarely even carry a purse, I just put essential mom items in the diaper bag pockets too and carry it since it looks like a purse. 🙂

    • After trying out many bags, I bought and loved the Skiphop Studio as well ( The ONLY negative I have found is that it has pram clips instead of a long over body strap as I find it a bit slow and awkward to attach to the stroller (tho I am a bit un-co!). Other than that it’s brilliant for my needs.

      I don’t want to carry a bag for me and a bag for baby, I just want one bag for everything. There’s a pocket for everything so I am never searching around and know where everything is. I keep my wallet and phone in the front pockets for easy access and so I can switch quick and easily to my small bag on non baby days.

      Although it is designed as a nappy bag I don’t think anyone needs one. If a backpack works for you, that’s great! I just personally wanted something that looked like a handbag that I could wear and still feel like “me”. Sounds like feeling like “you” is already a back pack so why change?!

      I also carry a “petite traveller” ( which is kind of a fancy nappy wallet. It easily holds a couple nappies, a change mat, wipes, a few rusks, bibs, has extra pockets for keys/money and a nify handle that easily goes over your elbow or stroller handle. So when you’re out and need to leave the room for a diaper change you don’t need to take your whole bag, just the wallet. And if you’re only going out for a couple hours you can just take the wallet which will fit in a small handbag instead of taking your big bag 🙂

  14. If you use an ergo a diaper bag is out. I knew this and refused to buy a diaper bag. Plus they all looked so….diaper bag-ish! I use my husband’s old skull jansport backpack and that works great. Once the baby stops spitting up all the time (I had to carry 3 burp cloths with me at all times) you can switch to a small pouch for just essentials.

    I find that babywearing only works when you are very savvy about your essentials. You can’t lug around an extra 2 outfits, 5 diapers, wipes, toys, snacks, etc etc.

    • hmm, I use a diaper bag (actually just a really big purse) and an ergo all the time. Personally, I’d rather be a little overpacked, and the straps don’t conflict. That said, for short trips I just grab a diaper and stick it in the ergo pouch!

  15. I love our diaper bag. The water-resistant changing pad slips nicely into its slot. There are good compartments for a change of clothes (you typically need one spare for accidents), everything is within reach and well-organized (not in a jumble at the bottom of a sack). We cloth diaper and those are much bulkier to carry, plus we have to use paper when using easy cream, so we need both kinds at times. A good back pack with compartments might serve you just as well, but you really need, I think, a water-resistant changing pad for all those messy changes on the go.

  16. I never found that Diaper bags were for women so much as they were covered in baby crap, and really, it isn’t the baby that carries the bag! A bag is a bag, something plain with lotsa pockets works just as well.

  17. I never bought a diaper bag. I have used backpacks, large bags and laptop bags. Even used some bag my sister made when trying to sew. Pockets are nice but sometimes they can be too many. The bigger the bag the more stuff you find to fill it. I used to feel like a bad mom because I never carried tissues or clothing changes or allergy meds and band aids or changing pads and pacifiers. But its been a few years and more kids and I have never needed a lot of stuff and if I did I just found a store and bought it. Cloth diapers can get bulky but i then will take a seperate bag and keep that in the car.

  18. My husband is a stay at home dad. No way was he going to use a pink quilted diaper bag. Instead we just used my old messanger bag. It worked great with our moby wrap and on the bus. We bought a small changing pad and wipe case that we kept in the back pocket.
    Now that they’re over a year I just put a couple diapers and a small wipe case in my purse.

  19. I agree–diaper bags are so ugly! For myself, I’ve been happily using the same Timbuk2 bag since 2004 so I decided to buy another one to be our diaper bag. I especially like how easy messenger bags are to carry and with Timbuk2 you can pick your own colors. Because it’s not a baby-colored diaper bag, my daughter can use it as an overnight bag when she’s old enough to go to Grandma’s for the night. We went with a size medium because we knew we would eventually have two babies and we like the ability to throw our jackets and wallets and phones in there too.

  20. Another thing, now that our daughter is 15 months old and on a set routine with awesome cloth diapers that rarely leak, we either don’t take our diaper bag or leave it in the car when we go places for an hour or two. What we really use these days is a designated food-only wet bag for going out to eat or to friends’ for dinner. We put in her baby-sized plate and cup, bib, washcloth, and some food in case she can’t eat what’s being served (she only has two teeth still).

  21. I got a diaper bag, mostly for the changing mat that came with it (which we don’t even use anymore). A backpack would have sufficed — things just get lost in our diaper bag.

    Now that he’s a toddler, we really only use it for all-day trips. If I’m going grocery shopping, even though I cloth diaper, I have a wet bag with a disposable and some wipes in it — if he needs a change, I’m set, but it’s small enough to go in my purse and he generally doesn’t need it.

    My big recommendation is to keep your stuff (wallet, notepad, whatever you carry on a daily basis) separate from the baby stuff. I have a smaller bag that goes in the diaper bag if I only want to carry one. Before I figured this out, I had a number of incidences of “I need this thing, but it’s in the diaper bag, which I left with the babysitter.”

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