Do I Need a Diaper Bag? (Pros, Cons, Experience)


As expecting parents, there are so many decisions to make before your baby arrives and one of those is whether or not you need a diaper bag. Since my wife and I have done things a few different ways over the years, I thought this would be a good question to tackle for first-time parents!

In my experience, every parent needs at least one diaper bag for at least the first two years of their baby’s life. They make it convenient to carry everything your baby needs such as diapers, wipes, clothes, and toys. Many also include special features such as changing pads, insulated bottle holders, or even a bassinet.

Even though I have my own opinion about diaper bags, I am going to explore the topic for everyone that doesn’t have my personal experience using them. We’ll talk about whether or not they are really necessary, what makes a good diaper bag, how many you need, and how much you should expect to pay to find a good one.

Is a diaper bag really necessary

There are many women who do not think a diaper bag is a necessity. They might even feel like they are a waste of money because you can just by a bigger purse or tote bag and use that instead without advertising to everyone that you are a mom. This option could certainly work for you, but I don’t personally think it’s the best choice.

While it’s technically true that just using a bigger purse or switching over to a large tote could allow you to carry around everything your baby needs on a daily basis it is not the most efficient method.

Modern diaper bags are designed to have a specific place for all baby-related stuff that you need to pack with you as well as personal items such as wallets, phones, and keys. Many of them manage to cram all of this convenience into a bag that looks great, sells for a reasonable price, and can be carried over the shoulder or worn as a backpack. They are also often packed with special features that make them far more useful than a regular purse or bag.

Don’t forget, by the way, that husbands will be much more likely to want to carry a cool backpack-style diaper bag around the zoo or mall than holding your purse when it gets too heavy with all of the baby stuff crammed inside.

Personally, my wife and I chose to pick up a grey, gender-neutral backpack-style diaper bag very similar to this one.

It’s great because it looks stylish no matter who is carrying it, has all of the most important features and manages to stay super affordable at the same time. Basically, it’s everything that you need without any gimmicks or extra bulk. I’ve comfortably worn it for many long hours during trips to the zoo, walking around the city, or even just taking a trip to Walmart.

Pros of having a diaper bag

  • Thoughtful, organized layout with parents and babies in mind
  • A specific place for baby items so that nothing gets lost
  • Room for personal items such as keys, wallets, and phones
  • Useful features such as insulated pockets, changing pads, and wipe dispensers
  • Can be carried over the shoulder or as a backpack
  • Modern designs don’t have to look like a ‘diaper bag’

Cons of having a diaper bag

  • Might only be able to use it for a couple of years
  • Some features are gimmicky
  • Could be bulky
  • If not used as a purse, it’s another bag to carry

Overall, the pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to making the decision to carry a diaper bag. Even the cons above are pretty subjective and come down to personal preference. In all my research and talking to other parents, not one had a negative thing to say about having a diaper bag. They just expressed that the first couple of times they left the house, they forgot to grab it.

After one dirty diaper on the road, I bet they never forgot it again!

What makes a good diaper bag

There are thousands of diaper bags on the market and with all of the different types of styles, prices, patterns, and colors are available, it’s easy to find a good one.

The best diaper bags will be made of high-quality material, have a great design, and carry the right mix of features that you are looking for based on your needs and preferences.

Backpack-style diaper bags seem to be the most popular right now and it’s definitely my wife and I’s favorite. Since there are so many different styles to choose from it’s easy to find something that both parents like and that even dad won’t have a problem carrying around. It’s also easier for mom if she has the backpack style because traditional over-the-should styles can get heavy and painful quickly. This style is portable with great organization and it gives you the hands-free ability to carry the baby and your own purse, if necessary.

Some people say it is a little tough with the backpack style, because they have to take it off, to dig in it and get what they want. But if you think about it, you have to put a regular diaper bag down to get into it as well.

As we mentioned earlier, many different items need to be packed in a diaper bag when you are taking your baby out. Most diaper bags are made of a material that is super easy to clean. Every year diaper bags evolve, making it easier for parents to carry all the needed items on an outing, whether short or long. 

Similar to this topic, I recently explored how well diaper bags would work when used as a purse. You can check that article out right here.

How much does a diaper bag cost

The cost of your diaper bag is going to depend on a few factors; brand, style, size, and where you purchase it. For example, a Kate Spade or Gucci diaper bag is going to cost a lot more than one that you buy from Walmart, Target, or Burlington Coat Factory.

If you go to Amazon, you can find simple diaper bags on sale for around $20 as well as high-end purse-style bags for more than $300. Bags sold by major designers such as Coach or Gucci, meanwhile, can cost thousands.

Realistically, you should expect to pay between $30 and $150 for a high-quality diaper bag that should last through multiple babies and get the job done right.

As examples, here are diaper bags under $50 available on Amazon. You’ll find my recommendation from earlier somewhere in that list because I’m not trying to spend a million dollars on a diaper bag and you don’t need to either!

How many diaper bags do you need

This is going to depend on you solely, but most parents say that one diaper bag is plenty.

There are a couple of reasons you might want to get two to make things a bit easier for yourself:

  • Leaving an extra bag somewhere your baby spends a lot of time
  • Having a separate bag for both mom and dad

The first reason actually makes a lot of sense. For instance, you could have one for you and one that you leave at grandmas house. This way, when you are going for a visit, you don’t have to worry about packing up your normal bag. The same could be said for leaving one at daycare, school, work, or wherever your baby spends a lot of time. This way you won’t have to pack it every night and then run the risk of forgetting it if you are running late in the morning.

The second reason makes less sense. If mom and dad have separate diaper bags, meanwhile, mom can get the cute one with the designs or baby animals on it and dad can have a generic or backpack style. This sounds great, in theory, but doesn’t really work out well in reality. When my twins were born, both my wife and I each got our own bags and I can tell you that based on my experience that it is totally unnecessary to have two for this reason. We ended up only really taking one bag anywhere we went and one of them inevitably ended up not being stocked and ready, so it never got used Just save your money if your goal for everyone to have their own bag.

How long do you need a diaper bag

This is also going to depend on your personal preference. Some will use their diaper bag for the first year or two, and others have used their diaper bag until their kids have started school. 

From infant to toddler, you are always safer taking a few more things than you think you need for your kids when you run errands. From diapers to wipes and bottles when they are newborn to snacks, extra clothes, and toys for toddlers – taking care of a baby requires a lot of stuff. The basic rule of thumb is that if you don’t take it with you in the diaper bag, then you are going to end up needing it. 

With a toddler, remember that you don’t actually have to take the bag out of the car when you go in the store, especially if they are potty trained, so it makes it a little easier for mom or dad. If you need a snack or toy you can simply pick it up when you get back to the car. But when you have an infant, of course, you want to take it anywhere that you go because you never know when you will have to change diapers, feed the baby, or find a pacifier.

At a certain point, you can probably get by just throwing a couple of things into a standard purse until they are old enough to take care of themselves!

Josh

I'm the dad in charge of Natural Baby life. With 10 years of parenting experience across three children, I am constantly learning how to raise children more naturally. I'm passionate about doing whatever it takes to raise a happy and healthy baby! Find out more about me here.

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