We set out to find the best changing bag on the market and the best for various lifestyles and stages. The market is huge and ever-changing; we’ve watched trends come and go and styles and engineering become more and more slick. Let’s face it, we all know you can just shove some nappies, bags and wipes into a backpack if you want to, and some of these products don’t come cheap, so you want to know that what you’re getting is actually worth paying for.

Which changing bags did you test?

Mia Tui Jennie (Mumsnet Best)
Storksak Hero (Best Changing Bag for an Active Lifestyle)
Babymel George (Best Changing Bag for Multiples)
Fact + Fiction Charli (Best Changing Bag for Style)
Babymoov Urban (Best Changing Bag for Multiples)
Storksak Kym
Tiba and Marl Kaspar
Pacapod Croyde
Babymel Cara
Little Bird Denim
Mothercare Messenger
Jem and Bea Jemima

How did you pick which changing bags to review?

We drew up a list of 10 changing bags to test, based on Mumsnetters’ recommendations on our Talk boards and best-selling lists. We also looked at some new releases, as we wanted to ensure we gave newcomers a level playing field to compete on with old favourites.

Who tested the changing bags?

Unlike many other product testing sites, at Mumsnet, we use just one tester – with a tiny assistant to help, of course – to look at all the products within the category, rather than a different parent (and different baby, presumably) for each product. This means we are able to make like-for-like comparisons between products as well as provide a more standardised approach to testing, ensuring fewer variables between product tests so we can recommend products with confidence.

How were the bags tested and what were you looking for?

Each of the changing bags was used by a real parent in everyday situations to see how they performed, not just in “lab conditions” but also in those spontaneous “we-never-could-have-predicted-this” moments (always more likely to occur when you add a runny poo to the equation).

But we also ran the usual standardised tests, to ensure all the product’s claimed features were really put through their paces. Every easy-to-fold mat is genuinely easy to fold (no origami expertise required); every messy bag really does keep the mess IN and not smeared around the bag; every wipe-proof exterior is completely wipe-proof of all noxious substances (yes, especially that one). We’re confident that our testing is truly exhaustive.

Each of the changing bags was used exclusively, one-by-one by our tester for trips out. We asked her to check that the bags were straightforward to use (what parent of a newborn has time for instruction manuals?) and have no nasty surprises – such as stains after just a couple of hours' usage, hard-to-reach pockets or ripped seams after a long day out.

How do I know if a changing bag is easy to use?

One of the criteria we tested on was “assembly”. There’s admittedly not too much to test here – no allen keys required, thankfully. However, clear instructions are always welcome when you’re a sleep-deprived new parent, and there’s nothing more annoying than finding out just as you outgrow a product that it had an amazing contraption you never spotted and therefore never benefited from. Our tester looked at how easy it was to figure out all the different parts of the bag and what they should be used for. This included looking at individual labels flagging up important parts of the bag, and the main label listing the bag's key features. We were looking for instructions that were clear and that any images on the labels explained all the functions of the product adequately.

How much should a changing bag hold?

The crucial thing here was that the bags carried everything both you and your baby need for a day out. There’s no point having a wonderful changing bag, if you also need a bag for your own stuff, too.

We filled the bags with all the items needed for a day out, including at least one change of clothes, nappies, wipes, snacks, drinks or milk bottles, muslins, purse, keys and phone. We assessed how simple it was to organise all the items within the bag, giving particular thought to how easy it would be for a stressed-out mum desperately searching for a spare nappy, or her car keys, to find them. We considered the pockets, and whether they were practical in terms of size and location, as well as any separate zip bags that were included.

Our tester looked at whether the bags included insulated bottle holders or pockets, and for any that did we took the bags out with a bottle of warmed milk in to establish exactly how effective those insulated bits were at keeping things warm.

Are there any “added extras” to look out for with a change bag?

Added extras included with the bags were an important consideration as there’s quite a lot of variation out there in terms of what comes “in the bag”. With each product, we looked at whether a changing mat was included and put it to the test: was it a decent size? Did it fold up easily and have its own handy place for storage inside the bag? And was it easy to clean after use, even when on the move? Was there a separate pocket for wipes, too?

We also looked out for other non-essential-but-nice-to-have extras, such as insulated snack or bottle bags, clips for keys, separate wet bags and clutch bags.

How did you test for durability and longevity?

We looked at how well the bags were made, whether they were sturdy and would withstand the test of time. It was important for bags to cope with the busy daily lives of parents, particularly for them to be able to handle a bit of rough treatment and messy environments such as muddy parks and sticky fingers.

What should you look for in the design of a changing bag?

Much will depend on how you want to use your bag, but we investigated things like whether the bag stood upright on its own, or if it had a tendency to fall over when you put it down, which could cause spillages inside. We also checked whether it would fold down to store easily when not in use, meaning you could potentially put it away and get it out again for a subsequent baby.

It was important for the bags to be easy to carry, and we paid particular attention to how portable they were when they were fully packed for a day out. We looked at how comfortable they were to carry, whether the straps could be adjusted to make them more comfortable for different users and if there were any sore backs at the end of a busy day. We assessed how many options there were for carrying, for example if shoulder bags came with an additional longer strap to carry across the body. We also hung them on buggies, checking that they were easy to attach and whether the straps stayed in place over bumpy paths.

Finally, we considered materials – how easy it would to keep the bag clean, whether or not it could go in the washing machine, if the interior lining stained from spillages and if the exterior attracted marks and scuffs easily. And we tested for wear and tear, and how well they stood up to a wash or a thorough clean.

How much choice is there about style?

Plenty! The market is as bulging as a full changing bag with all manner of styles and shades and more designs than you can shake a packet of baby wipes at.

The bags we tested were scored on their aesthetics, with thought to whether they had a contemporary or classic style and the quality of the materials used to make it. We considered whether the bags could be used for purposes other than days out with the kids, such as the office (honestly – you’d be surprised!) or popping out to the shops, and if we would be able to keep the bag beyond the baby years, giving you a bit more value for money. We also considered whether the bags came in a good range of colours or designs, as well as whether the colours offered would appeal to most parents.

What range of prices are we looking at for a changing bag?

There’s something at every price point here. You could splurge a month’s salary on something fit for a Kardashian, but equally there are plenty of budget options available. We felt the most important thing was to analyse whether the product was good value for money.

To do this we considered how many extras were included with the product, the materials it was made from, the look of the bag, durability and how versatile it was in order to weigh up whether the price tag was justified. However, the product’s overall usefulness, how well it had performed in other tasks and whether we would recommend this bag for parents were all more important factors in deciding whether they were worth the cost.

After our exhaustive testing process we scored the bags in order to come up with our Mumsnet Bests. These are bags you can count on to make trips out with the baby easy.

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