Changing bags are often marketed as one of the essentials for new parents to buy ready for their newborn arrival. They are said to make life easier and essentially keep you winning at new parent life. I had some questions when looking for my changing bag, what did I need it to do? what did it need to have included? and what style did I want?
I knew what style as soon as I evaluated what bags I already had at home and enjoy using the most which helped cross off that question but then I still had to decide what ‘gadgets’ I wanted my changing bag to have. This was the harder part as I didn’t quite know what I would want until the baby was here and I was struggling with a fastening or pocket.
I decided to research and honestly, there is a lot to read but I found it hard to get past all the noise to find out what really was essential to parents and what I would potentially want in my changing bag and what I should be looking for.
The main things to look for in a changing bag are a foldable changing mat, a side pocket for wet wipes, a bottle warmer or at least a bottle holder and plenty of pockets. These are all elements that help ease friction when using your changing bag, needing something quickly or only having one hand to get that item you need.
In this article, I am going to talk about what to look for in changing bag, why it is important and other tips and tricks along the way.
Is A Changing Bag Important When Having a Baby?
A changing bag isn’t going to make or break you as a parent, that is all down to you. A changing bag is just an item that was discovered and created to help parents keep their baby and child’s ‘stuff’ organised and in one place while on the move.
The main reason for having a changing bag is to hold essential items to keep your baby clean, happy and fed while you are out and about. Over the years these have developed into something more useful, more appealing and practical.
Though if you prefer to use something else or just nothing then that is completely up to you and there is no pressure to have a dedicated changing bag. Though they can be extremely handy!
Can I Use Any Bag As A Changing Bag?
Of course! There is no special definition or requirement that your changing bag has to meet a certain set of requirements or be a ‘changing bag’.
You can use any bag you want as a changing bag essentially as long as it works for you, your routine and even your partner.
I do have more information about using ‘normal’ bags as changing bags if you are looking at using something you already own or like for your day to day out and about baby bag.
What To Look For In A Changing Bag
I created a list of ‘essential’ components to look for in a changing bag, these are components fellow parents have advised and recommended having along with top changing bag companies who design these specific style of bag.
Here are my ‘essentials’ to look for in a changing bag. Of course some of these may not apply to you or not bother you what so ever so feel free to note down what you want to make you changing bag choice easier.
I don’t wear anything unless I find it at least 90% comfortable so having a bag that irritates me, gets in my way or just simply doesn’t work with me would be pointless and I would soon make that item redundant.
Comfort is key so when you are looking for a changing bag look at what bags you like wearing, find comfort and enjoyment. I personally love backpacks and find them the most comfortable and practical so when I was looking at changing bags I ruled out anything that was a backpack.
You may be different and prefer more handbag styles, cross body bags or satchels which is completely fine, you have to find what works for you.
Remember that whatever you choose you have to remember that you will be pushing a pram, wearing a baby sling or holding a baby in your arms in some capacity so you might not want something that doesn’t quite fit with those kinds of situations.
Though when searching for a changing bag I quickly realised that many bags including the one I chose were quite adaptable for wearing as a side bag, backpack or simply sit over the handlebar of the pram so you can find diversity within your choice of bag.
Side pockets are fantastic for anything from baby bottles, water bottles for yourself or even for shoving in something you don’t want to forget like your babies favourite toy.
Depending on what you think you will be putting in there might depend on whether they are big enough or not. Primarily most changing bags with exterior pockets will make them large enough to hold a bottle so you shouldn’t have to worry.
If you find a changing bag with 2 you might find the second pocket is perfect for holding tissues or wipes as these are often items you reach for the most.
Side pockets are a savour but nothing more than when whoever it was in the world discovered using a side pocket for baby wipes and adding a flap to it. I loved this addition to my changing bag as I love the mix of practicality and speed, there is nothing worse than having to dig around in a bag for some wipes when you have baby sick all over you.
The wipes pocket is a sure essential for all new parents and can you minutes having to rummage trying to find the wipes, not to mention the amount of stress!
Packing a baby changing bag can be little hard because you want to pack for every scenario and make sure you have everything you need from nappies to wipes and even a change of clothes.
With all these things you want to include you need ample space within your changing bag. Most changing bags will come with this space but make sure it holds everything you need.
It might be worth ‘packing’ a bag you currently have with the items and taking note of the size and dimensions. That way you can go out and find a changing bag based on those sizes that fit in everything you want.
You also don’t want to buy a changing bag that is just right or slightly small as you will no doubt find other items you want to keep inside such as your purse, muslin squares or even a cardigan for yourself.
Some changing bags comes with integrated bottle warmer but I found it a little overkill and thought a bottle holder would be more practical. Especially since I had two portable bottle warmers already and I was planning on breastfeeding too.
I didn however find the bottle holder just as useful for myself as I did for baby bottles, I like to carry around a reusable water bottle so having the bottle holder in the side was a bonus as I could make sure I was keeping myself hydrated especially when out for a walk.
Divided areas may seem a little strange to be looking for in a changing bag but in my Babymel changing bag I found having 3 inner pockets and a main compartment really easy and helpful.
I like to be able to grab things as a moments notice so I personally loved having the small frequently needed items in smaller compartments and pockets, saving me time on digging through the bag to the bottom to find them.
Divided areas in your changing bag are just like having cupboards or draws at home for specific things such as your underwear and socks in one draw, t-shirts in another and trousers in another. That way you know exactly which draw (in this case compartment or pocket) you need to be heading for to find that specific item.
How To Choose A Changing Bag
So I touched on this topic earlier when I was talking about comfort was important in a changing bag but I didn’t specify how to choose a changing bag. A changing bag like any other bag you would use day to day is unique to you, it moulds to your shape or style and it is an extension of yourself in the terms of holding exactly what you need (like having another 2 or 3 arms!)
So knowing what to choose and how to choose a changing bag is important especially if you want it to be the only bag you buy and use. I was very particular when choosing mine as I didn’t want to have to buy another as the original one didn’t work out or just because I thought that style of bag would be ‘cute’.
I am also very practical and like to have easy access to items anyway so I couldn’t see this changing when I was bringing a baby along. Here are my tops tips on how to choose a changing bag that won’t just work with you but make your life easier especially when adding another person to the mix!
Look At What Bags You Already Use
My biggest tip for helping you find a changing bag that you like and suits you and gives you everything you will need for parenthood then start by looking at what bags you already like to use.
As there are a number of different styles of handbags, backpacks, satchels and more you might have a particular style of bag that you automatically go for and thoroughly enjoy using. This for me was backpacks, I always buy backpacks if I am wanting a new bag, I like the space, the pockets and the diversity of what that bag can do.
My current backpack is perfect for travel, everyday use and use as a camera bag so I knew ideally I wanted to find a backpack. I also love the idea of having everything I need in the bag but still having my arms free to hold my baby, push the pram or do my shopping.
What Features Are Important To You
While the features listed above are well worth getting integrated in your new changing bag there are some others you might not have thought about. Things like a laptop sleeve, do you plan to be able to keep your laptop in your bag so you could maybe get some work done in a coffee shop?
What about a hidden pocket to store your phone or even money, it is okay managing to fit in everything you need for your baby but remember this is a bag for you too.
I looked for features I already love and use in my current bag to then find in my changing bag.
Can You Get A Bag That Adapts To Other Formats?
Deciding on a changing bag and thinking it is your bag for life can be a little daunting. Don’t let it be, once you have this bag you don’t have to use it and especially not forever so don’t worry if you think a certain style isn’t for you, you can always find an alternative.
I chose my Babymel backpack as a present from my sister, she wanted to get us something for the baby and so that was her gift to us. I chose it because it was a backpack, it came with a changing mat and wipes holder on the side and ample pockets both outside and inside, but something I didn’t know until I got it home was that the handles could change into different styles of bag.
So my simple straight forwards backpack could also be a satchel style bag, I could wear it over my shoulder and off I do. I also noticed it extended to sit over the handles of the pram to make life easier that way and finally the two tough handles at the top clipped together and work perfect for clipping onto the pushchair too.
So I found much more versatility in the changing bag I chose later on, so if you feel you might not want to wear your bag one way, look for one with versatile handles so you can adapt how you use it and wear it giving you more options and freedom.