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5 tips for choosing the perfect diaper bag

Photography by Michael Alberstat Image by: Photography by Michael Alberstat Author: Canadian Living

Family

5 tips for choosing the perfect diaper bag

There are few items in a new mom's life that get more use than her diaper bag. Most moms carry one around for a year or more, so buying a bag that balances function and style is key. Katie Braga, a mom of two from Fredericton, NB, says that she totes around diapers, wipes, baby clothes, big-kid clothes, toys, bottles, lip gloss, a wallet, snacks and keys each day, so she has an assortment of diaper bags to suit all her needs. "With the first baby, I wanted fashion," says Braga. "With my second baby, I needed full function. So now I have a casual one, a dressy one and a larger one for travelling."

With so many styles and price points available, the perfect diaper bag can be difficult to find. Here's what to look for:

1. Size
Though bigger is not necessarily better, you'll want a diaper bag that can accommodate the needs of a growing child. "Infants have tiny things, but as they grow, so does the size of the things," says Georgina Forrest, a Calgary-based professional organizer and spokesperson for the Professional Organizers in Canada. Before you buy, it's worth considering how heavy the bag is when empty. Is it likely to be uncomfortable when you add all of baby's essentials?

2. Pockets/compartments
Look for interior compartments that have space for wet/dirty clothes. Also look for an insulated spot to keep formula, milk and water cold. Most bags include a removable, waterproof change pad. Outer pockets should accommodate your keys, wallet and even a bottle of water—anything you'll want to access easily.

3. Patterns and colours
Sure, you might love that lime green bag, but will your partner appreciate it, too? "Also take into consideration the interior colour," advises Forrest. "The inside should be light-coloured so that it's easy to find what you're looking for."

4. Style
Just like handbags, diaper bags come in all sorts of styles, including tote, messenger and backpack. A tote bag has two straps, which should be long enough to sit comfortably on one shoulder. A messenger bag is designed to be worn across the body, so make sure it's not too big for your frame. Backpacks, which distribute weight evenly across your back, are great for leaving you hands-free; the downside is that you won't be able to get inside of it quickly. Whichever style you choose, Forrest suggests looking for one with stroller straps so that you can attach it to your stroller with ease. "Also, make sure the bag opens wide and closes with a zipper, not a Velcro snap," she advises. "If the bag falls over, you don't want everything spilling out. Plus, Velcro can be noisy and disturb a sleeping baby."

5. Material
When Forrest was a new parent 30 years ago, her diaper bag was made of corduroy.  "When I think about it now, that thing must have been filthy at times," she says. Both she and Braga suggest finding a bag that's easy to clean. "You'll want to choose one made of good quality materials, because the amount of times you'll need to throw it in the wash might surprise you," says Braga.

Avoid bag blunders
Though it may be tempting to overpack, Forrest says that less is more when it comes to a diaper bag. Her rule: pack one diaper for every hour you're gone, with a couple extra just in case. Lastly, organize your bag like you would your home—a place for everything and everything in its place. "That way you can easily locate something with one hand," says Forrest.

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5 tips for choosing the perfect diaper bag

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