Parents are always struggling to find the best way to carry everything that their baby needs during a trip whether it’s to the grand canyon or the grocery store. For moms, there’s the added struggle to decide whether or not they should be using a diaper bag as a purse, a purse as a diaper bag, or to just carry both.
In nearly every case, the right diaper bag can easily be used as a purse because it will be able to carry everything the baby needs while also taking care of anything that mom would normally carry separately. Choosing a backpack-style diaper bag and using a sensible approach to what you pack will keep the weight down and your hands free. These days, there are stylish options available that will make even women without kids turn their heads!
With our first two children, we didn’t even know that backpack-style diaper bags existed and we made do with the traditional ‘giant tote bag’ style. These were great because they held everything we needed, and more, but they were always bulky and a pain to carry around. With our third child, my wife made the switch to a sleek and versatile backpack and she’s never been happier!
Table of Contents
The benefits of using a diaper bag as a purse
Parents, especially moms, don’t have time to play around with something that isn’t going to work right or that will make their lives harder. Taking care of a baby is a full-time job and while it’s easy to find anything you need while you’re in the house, traveling is a different story.
When moms are on the go they need quick access to everything needed to change a diaper, wash a face, swap into a new outfit, and provide a snack for their child. At the same time, they need to be able to grab their wallet, chapstick, phone, and any other accessory that they need themselves. Luckily, using a diaper bag as a purse will solve all of these problems at once!
Convenience and portability
By far, the biggest advantage of using a backpack-style diaper bag as a purse is convenience and portability. By eliminating the purse altogether, that’s one less thing to pack, carry, and worry about when you are out and about. You’ll never have to make the decision again to leave your purse in the car and just grab your wallet while you run into the store for a quick errand or fill up the whole bottom of the stroller with your extra bag.
Even better, you won’t even have to worry about carrying the diaper bag! These backpacks are incredibly comfortable, can adjust to your shape, and keep your hands free to push a grocery cart in the store, point out their favorite animal at the zoo, or pick them up when they’ve fallen and skinned their knee. Unlike purses, they also usually have a clip to attach to a stroller or cart so you won’t even have to carry it!
Versatility and organization
By their nature, diaper bags are going to come with all kinds of interior organization. This means pockets in the lining with zippers, dividers, included pouches or small containers, exterior pockets, and even cup holder-style pockets on the sides.
The best thing about all of these pockets is that they are designed from both a diaper bag’s perspective (included dividers and diaper changing pad) as well as a backpack’s perspective (double pockets on the TOP of the bag for the most commonly used items like keys, wallets, and phones). This means that you’ll be able to pack the bag so that anything you will need to have handy will be right on top rather than having to dig through a mountain of diapers and Cheerios to find it.
Depending on what you have planned, you can always change up what you bring in your bag for maximum versatility between baby items and mom stuff. With a trip to the zoo, for instance, you might want to take out the extra jacket and put in a couple of bottles of water. In most cases, you’ll even have an insulated pocket or section that will help keep the drinks cold longer!
Unlike a purse, diaper bags are meant to get wet, dirty, and thrown around.
Most of the time, they are going to have heavy-duty liners and seams and the whole bag is probably waterproof. This will be good news with the bottle of formula leaks or you find yourself in a sudden rain shower outside. Both of those scenarios would probably spell disaster for a regular purse, especially an expensive one!
Depending on the bag, these things can also work well when having fun outdoors such as during a hike through the woods. Heavy-duty material will make them resistant to scratches, tears, and other damage out on the trail!
In addition to being so useful, most of these backpack-style diaper bags are not very expensive. Sure, you can find some super chic and trendy options from designers available on the market, but you will also be able to find something cute and useful for a very reasonable price that will last a long time.
When it comes to products for taking care of a baby, value is always on the top of my list because there are already so necessities that require constant spendings such as clothes, diapers, and wipes. Also, kids have a way of destroying most things in the house so it’s always good when something is meant to take a beating and carry on!
Recommended diaper bags to use as a purse
Like most things, there are a crazy amount of options for backpack-style diaper bags on the market today. The best ones are going to combine all of the benefits that I just talked about with a style that you love and won’t mind carrying around. You’ll find tons of options in the $20-$50 range along with a few more on the higher end. If you are paying more than $50, however, you are really just buying the brand because these bags aren’t going to be any more functional than the cheaper versions (they may even be less useful!).
Our personal pick
Although we have two bags, we’ve absolutely LOVED this diaper bag backpack from Hap Tim and it still looks brand new after more than a year of heavy use and we grabbed it for less than $40. It’s completely waterproof and has amazing storage options including insulated bottle holders, stroller straps, and even a slotted outside pocket that you can pull wipes out of the package from easily! It also includes 18 pockets including some handy zippers on the BOTTOM of the bag that let you get into it from different places depending on what you are looking for at the moment and work great for security pockets.
The one we got is grey with black straps and leather accents. We like this color scheme because it’s less flashy than some of the bags that try to be too cute and it looks manly enough for me to wear it out an about without feeling like I’m wearing a diaper bag. In fact, most people probably wouldn’t even notice that it’s a diaper bag until I started pulling diapers out of it – it’s really sharp!
Other great diaper bag backpacks under $50
Fortunately, there are many great picks available to you under the $50 price point. In fact, you might just want to take a look at them yourself (link to Amazon’s diaper bag backpack section) to find one that you think looks good and has the features you want. There are lots of different colors and styles available for a fair price.
For you ladies out there looking for a diaper bag that could fool anyone looking at it, I would suggest this leather option from Miss Fong (click for the latest reviews on Amazon) because from the outside it looks like a nice carry-on or large purse. It might be slightly more limited on space and features, but it’s a classy option for travelers or women that need to move seamlessly from the business world to home life.
For a cheap, cute, and classic option you also can’t go wrong with this nappy bag from Upsimples (click for the latest reviews on Amazon) that comes in grey/pink and features USB charging access, insulated pouches, and extra straps. As of the time of this writing, you could pick this up for $30 or less!
My ‘money is no problem’ dad pick for COOLEST diaper bag backpack
Ok dads, this is for you!
If you have looked through all of the options and can’t find one that you’re comfortable wearing around in public then you should definitely check out this option from Tactical Baby Gear (click for the latest reviews on Amazon) because it is totally cool. It’s made from military-grade materials and includes a full-size wipe bag and dump pouch.
Although it might sound a touch gimmicky, this thing was designed by a dad that knows what parents need to take care of their babies. From a built-in changing mat that folds down off the back to molle covering to hang your accessories on while you’re moving, this bag really does have everything the normal bags do just with way more cool factor! This would make a GREAT gift for a new dad or even a new grandpa!
The drawbacks of using a diaper bag as a purse
I’ve hit all of the benefits we’ve enjoyed while using a backpack-style diaper bag, but there are a couple of downsides to mention.
The biggest potential issue will arise if you are the Mary Poppins type that carries everything imaginable inside your purse. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (you never know when you might need a floor lamp in the moment) it can make things difficult when it comes time to merge the bags. Ideally, you’ll be able to downsize to a handful of essentials that you can store in one of the top pockets of a backpack so that you can keep things relatively separate. If you have a hard time with this, you’re going to dislike the new bag.
Another problem you could run into is the ‘all your eggs in one basket’ problem with using only one bag at a time. With our first kids, it was common for my wife to have a sort of emergency stash of baby stuff like diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes in her purse just in case one of us had gone off to do something else and there was an emergency. Having twins, this helped a lot because we could stay ready for anything. With one baby, especially, I don’t think this will be a major issue though.
When does using a purse as a diaper bag make sense?
If you just hate the idea of carrying a big diaper bag in general or don’t like the look of backpacks, you might could get away with using a purse as your diaper bag.
This could make sense if you spend the majority of your time moving your baby from one place to the next that has an ample supply of baby stuff on hand and don’t plan on taking any trips. For example, dropping off your baby at childcare or the grandparent’s house in the morning and taking them straight home at night. You probably won’t be changing many diapers on the go in this scenario and you’re only minutes from a ‘home base’ at any given time. In this situation, you could probably get by with just a stash of diapers, wipes, a spare outfit, and a toy or two.
In all cases, it’s really about what makes sense for you and your lifestyle. Some people are a little more ‘on the fly’ while others like to be fully prepared for all situations.