Nothing is more important than being prepared when leaving the house with kids. But you also want to be comfortable and somewhat organized. It doesn’t hurt to look a little like yourself, either. To track down the best — and most stylish — diaper bags out there, I talked to moms from all over the blogosphere, as well as designers, creative directors, and more, about their favorites for carrying bottles, wipes, snacks, toys, and, of course, diapers. It turns out that many of them prefer carrying diaper bags that aren’t actually diaper bags — or at least, ones designed explicitly for diapers and marketed only to new moms. But moms are still moms, and this group has vetted these bags thoroughly to make sure they can still get the job done. Sixteen picks — plus a few accessories — from moms, are all below.
It’s not surprising that many of the moms we spoke to chose the humble tote as their bag of choice. “I did a lot of research while pregnant in search of the perfect diaper bag and never found one,” says Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere. “They all either felt too utilitarian, cutesy, or massive, so I decided to purchase a simple neutral tote, with a zipper on top, that I transformed myself.” Schuman is talking about the Cuyana classic leather tote, a Strat fave. “Not only did my Cuyana bag hold everything I needed (I used smaller pouches inside to organize everything from diapers and wipes to snacks and toys),” she continues, “but now that I don’t lug around my daughter’s things anymore, it’s since transitioned to my work bag.”
Jessica Shyba of Momma’s Gone City also chose Cuyana as her diaper bag — the classic structured leather tote. For extra organization, Shyba paired it with an insert to keep everything compartmentalized. “I took them all over Africa and on monthly business trips, with and without the kids,” she says.
Another Strat fave pulling double-duty as a diaper bag is Madewell’s canvas tote. Says author and co-founder of Emily Books, Emily Gould: “I think one of the gifts of a second baby is definitely the knowledge that any bag can be a diaper bag if you carry a diaper wallet in it, or even just with a diaper or two and a baggie full of wipes.”
For High Maintenance’s costume designer Keri Langerman, compartmentalized baby bags didn’t do it for her “because that’s just not how my brain works,” she says. “With my first baby, I bought a very organized diaper bag, but in the end I would just shove everything in the main compartment … because that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life with my totes and purses.” Her choice is Herschel’s Bamfield tote, which is large and structured, perfect for throwing in a small insulated lunchbox, toys, and, of course, diaper stuff.
Curbed’s urbanism editor Alissa Walker is a mother on the go who requires a bag that has “lots of pockets that can fit everything from water bottles to coloring books, in addition to my stash of diapers and wipes.” These days, she’s loving this Patagonia tote. “It’s the ideal carry-on size, remarkably durable, and has a protected compartment for my laptop,” she says.
To make a statement, try this canvas tote from a collaboration between Clare V. and Every Mother Counts, which is creative director (and mama of six) Autumn Kimball’s summer pick for “baby odds and ends.” Plus, “It’s a message I obviously love,” she says.
Another pal of moms everywhere: backpacks. Langerman cites Fjallraven’s Kanken as the favorite in her Brooklyn neighborhood. “For when the baby is 6 months and younger, I like to be nimble and travel light,” she says. “The only thing I really need to bring with me when we are zipping around the neighborhood are diapers, wipes, a nursing cover, pacifier, and a clean place to change his diaper.” She loves Herschel’s changing mat, which can be tossed right into the backpack.
For the athleisure-minded, designer Gloria Bang recommends this Nike skateboarding backpack, which comes with several compartments and pockets. It also looks cool and is extra durable.
Mommy Shorts’ Ilana Wiles loves the Crosby Traveler from MZ Wallace because “it’s stylish, spacious and has tons of exterior and interior pockets,” she says. “It also has a soft structure and is super light, which is so important when it comes to diaper bags because you put so much stuff in it.” The best part is that it has both shoulder and crossbody strap options, “since you end up carrying your bag in so many different ways depending on the situation with your kids.” And while it’s not exclusively billed as a diaper bag, it comes with a changing pad, inner pockets for bottles, and a smaller, removable bag. It’s even roomy enough to hold a laptop, which is essential for a working mom.
Dagne Dover’s Landon Carryall is a solid option for those looking for a lightweight, minimalist bag that also works for dads. Fashion sales consultant Grace Premvaree loves its shoulder and crossbody options, all its interior compartments, and the fact that it’s easy to wash. Not to mention, it’s super for travel, too.
Traditional diaper bags
If you’re still set on using a traditional diaper bag, we’ve got you covered. Here are seven picks from stylish moms who also happen to be creative directors, editors, and bloggers.
Oh Joy!’s Joy Cho’s pick is this backpack by Hudson Tailor, which has an insulated lunchbox attached to the base of the bag. It’s handy for “keeping lunches, snacks, baby bottles cool and separate from everything else that you need to carry around,” she says, and there are also two water-bottle holders on the side. Cho also loves the backpack’s multiple compartments, “which allows for easy separation of all your baby and kid essentials, making them easy to find.” She continues: “I have an area for sunscreen/wipes and things I need to easily access on the top front pocket. And then space for extra clothes, toys, and more inside.”
Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom loves Freshly Picked’s diaper bag. “I knew it was designed by a real mom when I realized it had ten (!) pockets,” she says. “The more options I have to stash, separate and organize the items in my bag, the better.” Other standout features include the easy magnetic closure and the wipeable vegan leather. Plus, it can be worn as a backpack, and also as a purse or crossbody bag as well. “Hooray for flexibility and options!” says Sonya Li Casino, a senior account director in public relations, who also chose the Freshly Picked bag: “I can stuff a surprising amount of stuff in there but it never feels too bulky or big.”
“My favorite carry-all has seen the likes of two babies, one adoption, four bistro meltdowns, and an unmentionable amount of teething biscuit crumbs,” says Design for Mankind’s Erin Loechner. “Of every diaper bag I’ve toted, the Storq carry-all is the simplest — both lightweight and substantial with plenty of room for the essentials. Minimal yet functional, every detail is perfectly executed, right down to the zipper you can glide open with just one hand. Genius, I tell you.”
Here’s another vegan leather backpack, this time courtesy of Pregnant Chicken’s Amy Morrison. “It’s made of durable vegan leather, can hold a ton of stuff and can easily attach to your stroller handle,” she says. “Backpacks are all the rage right now and this one is clean and chic while still being practical and relatively affordable.”
Although Elise Blaha (of the blog Enjoy It and creator of Get to Work Book) never used a diaper bag for her two kids ages 5 and 2.5, she did have this Planet Wise wet diaper bag pouch that she stuck into her regular purse. “In it, I kept a change of clothes, three diapers, and some wipes. That was it,” she says.