Changing bags buyer's guide header

Buying a bag is always a very personal affair. Whether you’re out with three kids or one, for a day out at Legoland or just popping to the shops, your bag is your arsenal, your defence against the dark arts of poonamies and toddler tantrums. But it’s more than that: amidst a sea of baby gear, your changing bag is one purchase you make for you.

We want to help you make the right decision, so we’ve done all the hard work for you. Are you on a budget? After a super cool, stylish bag? Or maybe a bag that allows you to be super organised? Whatever you’re after we have a bag for you.

First things first, do you need a changing bag?

Many Mumsnetters recommend simply purchasing a changing wallet from Jojo Maman Bebe (£30) or Skip Hop (£22.50) to use with any bag you like, or even throw under the buggy. These wallets can hold a few nappies and unfold to become a portable changing mat. This then gives you the flexibility to use whatever bag you or DH want depending on what you’re doing that day.

However, having a single bag, designed with parenthood in mind, always packed and ready to go for any occasion has its benefits too. For instance, most changing bags have an insulated pocket or pouch for a baby bottle, are made from wipe-clean materials. They often have a changing mat included with the bag, and a handy zip pocket for your keys, phone and wallet. The right bag can be an all-in-one solution that you’ll be carrying around for years to come.

How to find the right bag for you and your lifestyle?

Here’s a few things to consider when buying a changing bag that will make sure you’re buying a bag that will last you through the baby years (and maybe even beyond).

What’s your budget?
On the whole, the slightly more premium brands (Storksak, Tiba + Marl, PacaPod, Skip Hop) offer high quality bags that will definitely withstand the wear and tear of life with smalls in tow. But, they have a price tag to match. If you’re looking for something on a smaller budget, Babymel, Pink Lining, and Mothercare bags are all likely to stand the test of time without breaking the bank. Whatever your budget, you want something spacious that’s durable with strong straps – the last thing you need is your changing bag breaking when you’re out and about!

What’s your style?
Think about the type of bag you would usually carry and look for something along those lines. If you’re usually sleek and stylish, consider the Storksak Noa or Tiba + Marl Elwood Backpack. Just because you’re a mum now doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your sense of style! Equally, if you’re more practical or active with lots of days out on foot, something like a Babymule Original backpack might be more up your street. A unisex bag may also be preferable so DH has no excuses to side step packhorse duties.

Alternatively, most buggy brands design changing bags that match their pushchairs these days. So once you’ve decided on your buggy, be sure to check what they offer too.

Is it comfortable to carry?
Some changing bags are heavy before you even start packing the essentials in, so it’s worth making sure that the bag is comfortable and easy to carry. Look out for adjustable straps, as these can make a huge difference to comfort.

As well as carrying it, you’ll want to be able to easily attach it to the buggy. Many changing bags come with built in buggy straps these days, meaning it quickly and easily fastens to your buggy’s handlebar without slipping down the chassis and whacking the wheels every five minutes.

Best advice would be to get one that can clip to the handle of your pram, which also means your pram basket is free for shopping!

How big is it?
A good changing bag should be of a good size. Too small and you’ll end up needing a second bag; too big and you’ll end up carrying around much more than you need (probably damaging your back in the process). However, if you have twins or maybe two under two, a larger bag is probably a must.

Equally, while pockets can help you organise your essentials, too many different compartments can become confusing and mean you lose things within the bag. And when you’ve got a screaming baby on your hands the last thing you need is to be searching through tens of different pockets and compartments (unless you’re Monica Geller, of course).

Is it easy to clean?
It should go without saying that babies are mucky pups. So it’s a good idea to pick a wipe clean and stain resistant bag. Some bags are machine washable, meaning bottle or snack pack spills inside the main compartment are less troubling. But at the very least, the bag should also have a wipe clean interior lining.

I had a purpose made changing bag rather than a handbag and it was so useful you could just wipe clean the inside as well as outside. Plus it had the insulated pockets for bottles, etc.

What extras does the bag include? Is it good value for money?
Any decent, modern changing bag will come with a changing mat included. But what you really want is a padded mat that is either wipe-clean or machine washable, otherwise it’s not really fit for purpose. Ideally, you want an insulated bottle pocket or pouch as well, especially if you’re expressing or formula feeding. And a wet bag or pocket is a nice to have where you can store wet clothes or used reusable nappies (if you’re so inclined) until you get home.

And finally, what do you need in your changing bag?

The essentials:

  • Nappies (you’ll need about one per hour you’re out with a newborn and one extra)
  • Baby wipes (the more the merrier!)
  • Changing mat
  • At least one set of spare clothes
  • A bottle of milk if you’re expressing or bottle feeding
  • If using reusable nappies, consider a wet bag / pocket as well
  • Muslins

Nice to haves:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Extra top for mum (especially in the early days)
  • Sunscreen or woolies depending on the season
  • Once your baby is a bit older, including a few toys, a book and a teether can be really handy too.
  • Once you’re into the weaning stages and beyond, you’ll want to carry round a bottle of water and a few snacks to keep the hangry monster (baby, not you) at bay!

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