September 30, 2013

diaper bag tips + tricks

My friend, Stephanie, is about to have her first baby and she recently asked her friends for their thoughts on diaper bags... I had many. So many thoughts... and here they are... and yes, I realize that this is completely ridiculous, but let's face it - a good diaper bag (and what's in it) is a life raft on this journey called motherhood.
Some people love to carrying a TON of stuff with them. Personally, I have found that if you get a huge bag then you will end up carrying around a bunch of unnecessary items. Stick to the basics (of which I list my opinion below) because there is nothing worse than trying to find your car keys in a giant diaper bag. In the grocery store parking lot. With a starving baby. In the rain. Not that that's ever happened to me. :)

Having the inside of your diaper bag organized is a life saver. Some diaper bags come with organization compartments already and, while the concept is helpful, sometimes it's a pain to find something in one of those dark compartments (especially near the bottom). I personally like to have my own zippered bags to hold items for me. The zipper BAGGU bags are great because they're wipeable and they come in different sizes and lots of great colors. I have one big bag for snacks for my kids, one medium bag for little toys and nick nacks (i.e. a few hot wheels and a tape measure) and one small bag for me (compact, lip gloss, hand sanitizer and a KIND bar).

Everyone likes to wear their bags in different ways. I have tried every type out there so here's my two cents:

Pros: leaves you hands-free. Easy to bend over to pick up a pacifier or a hefty, crying toddler who has suddenly become a slippery squid child.
Cons: hard to wear with a wrap/sling. Also, they're usually pretty obviously a diaper bag (which may or may not be a concern for you).

Pros: easy to put on and take off, easy to handle and look through.
Cons: depending on the length of the strap, it can be hard to wear. The idea is to be hands free. If you can't comfortably wear it on your shoulder for your body frame (like, if the straps are too short or too long), then it won't work.

Cross Body
Pros: I feel like the best option is to have a shoulder bag that has cross body capabilities (like short shoulder straps and then a longer strap for when you need the extra support or to be truly hands-free).
Cons: if the strap isn't adjustable, then it might not work with your height (similar to the issue above).

When I say "neutral", I don't necessarily mean brown, black or gray (unless that's what you want). The color and pattern should be neutral enough for the type of clothes that you wear. This will be your main accessory so get something that compliments your typical wardrobe colors. I suggest going into your closet and looking at the general color scheme. If you tend to wear a lot of warm reds and pinks (like coral or tomato) go with a warm, fresh color like camel, kelly green or gold. If you like cool, berry colors (like mulberry or rose), a charcoal black stripe would be cute or you could even get away with a citron, neon yellow (if that's your thing). It also probably depends on where you live. Here, in the south west, bright colors are pretty popular year round but if you live in New York or Seattle, it seems that the style tends to lean more towards black, gray and navy. But I say: wear what you like and what looks good on you! :)

I prefer to go with a solid color so it doesn't compete with your daily outfit (unless you LOVE the pattern, then go for it!). If it's something like a stripe, geometric or muted pattern, then it won't complete so much.

Needs some form - not floppy. Trying to dig through a diaper bag that has no form or function is the worst. It should be made well because diaper bags get beat up! Which leads me to...

While everyone's financial situation is different, I feel like shoes and purses should be well-made - especially if you plan to have more than one child. Also, if you get something that doesn't scream "diaper bag" then you will also get your money's worth out of it by using it as your children grow older. If you're looking for something more in the $50 or under range, Target has some cute options.

Kelly Moore - 2 Sues Mustard
Skip Hop - DUO in Grey Stripe
Littlephant - Waves Day Bag
Storksak - Kate Color Block
Timi & Leslie - 2 in 1 Backpack in Emerald Lagoon
Petunia Pickle Bottom - Wistful Weekender in Twilight Tigerlily
Ikabags - Stockholm

Baggu Zipper Bags - great for organization as I mentioned above.
OXO Stroller Hook - I have this and LOVE it for holding my diaper bag (or shopping bags) on my stroller. It's pretty heavy duty and I've really loved it.
Stroller Clips - many diaper bags have stroller clips that either come with the bag or are an extra accessory. These are great for carrying on the stroller but unless your bag has the hooks that work with the clips, then it may not work for you.
Diaper Clutch - I recently bought this diaper clutch and wondered how I ever got along with it! Just another essential organization thing, in my opinion. Etsy is filled with lots of cute, custom options. 

Mustela Diaper Cream - this is my favorite diaper rash cream. It works great, smells wonderfully and lasts forever!
Dirty Diaper Baggies - when someone gifted these to me with my first baby, I thought I would never use them. I don't use it every time I change a dirty diaper but there are some situations (like a particularly foul diaper and dumping it in the restroom trash can at church) where it's just convenient. Also great for road trips!
Clean Well Hand Sanitizer Spray - while I'm not a hand sanitizer junky, I have really started using it more often now that I have a thumb sucker. This spray is great because the kids don't dump a glob on gel onto themselves and the smell is really nice too!
Onesie - always a good idea to have an extra onesie around. Some people carry an extra set of clothes but I find that it's usually too much for me to want to keep with me. A onesie is enough to have your child covered enough until you can get a fresh change of clothes (I've personally never need it but there are plenty of moms who have!)
Packin' SMART Stack 'n Seal (tiered snack containers) - this is my favorite container for snacks! The great thing about these are that they have separate compartments for each snack so you can divide and conquer! One section can be for a teething baby with cut up banana slices, cheerios or even baby food! One section can include crackers, carrot sticks or popcorn for an older child or toddler. The possibilities are endless! I love it.
Entertainment: cow LED keychain & tape measure.

Of course, these are just my opinions of what I've learned in my short time as a mother. I know I don't have it all figured out (of course not!) but I have learned a few things in the last four years about what does and does not work for me and my life. If you have any advice yourself about what has worked for you, please share in the comments!


  1. Bravo Love! I agree whole heartedly. I've really enjoyed the two Petunia Pickle Bottom 'Touring Tote' bags I've had. Not too big, option for shoulder or crossbody straps, stroller straps, great compartmentalizing inside, well made and designed, etc. I always appreciate when you take the time to do posts like this! Lizzy Lou for the win!

    1. Thanks mama! I really like PPB - very well made and cute. They haven't always been my style but I appreciate them on other people. The one you have now really suits your personal style. I love it for you!

  2. My tip to add would be to look for a bag with a light colored interior. That REALLY helps items from getting lost in the dark depths of your bag. I loved my bag from Ju Ju Be. It could be worn as a back pack (which I most often did), over one shoulder or cross body (how my husband often wears it). Another thing to maybe consider would be that yes, your husband might actually carry the bag and no, he probably won't appreciate hot pink or ruffles. ;)
    Great post, thanks for sharing!

    1. Great tips Sarah! Thanks for sharing. I totally agree about the pink ruffles thing too - I know that David appreciates a semi gender neutral bag. :)

  3. I kept a list of what needed to be in the diaper bag on the fridge so I wouldn't have to rethink it every time I left the house. I found my old list and it has on it: changing pad, 4 diapers, wipes, dirty diaper bag, D-milk, D-cup, A-cup, snacks, spit cloth, bibs, change of clothes (A&D), A-underwear, socks, sunscreen, sanitizer, phone. (My kids names start with A & D). My kids are now 12 & 15 and I still keep a bag in my car with extra clothes, underwear, socks, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, snacks, and water bottles. I put in clothes I don't love because I most often end up lending clothes to other parents.

    1. Wow! You are so organized! You're the type of mom who I'd be borrowing the clothes from cause I forgot. :) And such a great idea to have it all on a list so you don't forget to replenish diapers, wipes, etc.

  4. I'm not a mom, but here's a trick which has saved my sanity. Buy a carabiner clip, the kind used by rock climbers, and put it on your keychain. Then always hook the clip to the strap of your purse/diaper bag. No more key hunting, ever!!!!

    1. Great tip! Being able to find your keys in a purse is a lifesaver! Thanks for sharing!

  5. So what diaper bag do you actually own?

  6. So what diaper bag do you actually own?

  7. Lot's of the good and the designer diaper bags are available in the market but the problem is that how we can carry this bag at the tile of the long journey and so at this time stroller hooks for diaper bags is helpful for us.

  8. This is what gets to me. If you want to be a professional, then you have to spend a ton on baby items, even something like a diaper bag. A diaper bag. Really? I've got to buy my niece a bag. She's a teacher and she doesn't make much. I am leaning to something like this Amy Mitchell bag because at least it is under $100 and looks professional enough that she can use it in the classroom without the kids getting too obnoxious. But, $200. Wow. It's tough for a young mother to appear professional while dressing for less.

    1. Hi Ed, not sure what you mean by "professional" mother but I included several different options of diaper bags that ranged in prices from $64 - $230 depending on personal budget. Of course, everyone has different needs and financial situations which is why I showed a few different price points. Hope that helps and good luck!

  9. Hello Elizabeth, you don't know how much I appreciate this blog for the information you have given in it regarding Diaper Bags. I'm a mother of two baby boys and I can well understand how hard it would be to carry their stuffs in one bag.

    Best Regards,
    Patria Jase


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