It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves at one time or another: how can something so small require so much stuff? As every parent knows, even the shortest trip to the shops with a baby means lugging more gear than Take That takes on tour (and hearing a similar amount of screaming).
And just when you think you can use a regular handbag or backpack as a changing bag? Think again. When you not only need to carry an incredible amount of kit, but get access to any of it in an instant, regular bags just aren’t going to cut it, because a few moments fumbling inside a disorganised bag can mean the difference between mewling and a complete meltdown. So what should you look for in a changing bag? Actually, scratch that — in the best changing bag? Allow us.
The best changing bags are easy to clean and water resistant — you don’t want the contents to get soggy thanks to an unexpected downpour or a leaky bottle — and have thermal insulation for those all-important bottles. Changing mats are a must, and a “messy bag” for dirty clothes isn’t a bad idea either. Multiple pockets inside and out are very important, as are comfortable straps, while secure pram attachments make life a whole lot easier. And if the bag looks good? Well, then that’s a definite bonus.
It's always useful to think about who will be using the changing bag the most. If it's Mum, you can opt for a changing bag that looks like a handbag; if it's Dad, a more gender-neutral messenger changing bag might be a better choice. You should also think where your days out usually take you, because it's all very well and good having a great-looking handbag-style changing bag, but not if you often go walking or are out on adventures, which is when backpack changing bags really come into their own.
There are lots of changing bags out there, but we believe that these five are the ones you’ll like the best, based on real mums’ and dads’ reviews, parenting magazine awards and, of course, our own inimitable sense of style. And speaking of style, check out this list of the top trendy changing bags if you're particularly fashion-conscious.
Our most stylish changing bag of the bunch received a Mother & Baby magazine Gold Award in 2017, and with good reason: it doesn’t look remotely like a changing bag, but does the job of one. It’s available in a range of stylish shades (opens in new tab) and includes two removable internal bags for optimum organisation: a clear PVC pouch for baby bits such as the obligatory Ella’s Kitchen pouches, and a clutch bag for Mum’s stuff. There are two insulated pockets for bottles, a travel changing mat, and handy clips to attach the bag to a pram (and to make sure you don’t lose your keys). This handbag-style changing bag also comes with two different straps: a longer handle for throwing over your shoulder when you're in a hurry and shorter straps for a classic handbag style. It puts the fun back into functional and doesn’t cost too much either, giving it our top spot.
The Koo-di Lottie, our second Mother & Baby Award winner, is doing big numbers on Amazon (opens in new tab), which might have a little something to do with the judges raving about how it changed their lives. Like the Mia Tui, it looks more like a proper bag than a changing bag and, while polyester isn’t the most luxurious material, it is water-repellent and wipe-clean, making it particularly well-suited for messy babies and British weather. It’s like a tiny TARDIS with three internal pockets, an insulated bottle holder and six external pockets for wipes and other essentials. There’s a strap for your keys and a shoulder strap too, but it’s not really a shoulder bag unless you’re quite small, as the main strap is fairly short. A modern design with more space than you will probably ever need, this is the best baby changing bag for parents that generally carry a lot of things around day-to-day.
This messenger changing bag from Mothercare is a great quality choice for parents who share the load. Unlike some of the other options in our list, this baby change bag is much more male and female appropriate. It comes in a rainbow of colours from vivid red, pink and blue to more sober clay and black. It also has a padded shoulder strap to keep it from digging in, an external drink pocket, a padded changing mat, messy bag for easy baby changes, and all-over microban anti-bacterial protection to keep things germ-free. Phew! We reckon this one’s a good unisex option, even in the hot pink, a shade more reminiscent of trendy cutting-edge sportswear than Peppa Pig. Mums and dads love it, and the Reevo reviews are positive about pretty much everything. Is it the prettiest arm candy you'll ever see? Perhaps not, but it'll do the job perfectly.
OK, so this designer changing bag has a hefty price tag, but hear us out: if you hate the thought of giving up your designer accessories once you've had a baby, Jem and Bea have got your back with this gorgeous leather changing bag. The Jemima Tote Changing Bag (opens in new tab) gives you so much more than just a diaper bag. Each element has been carefully considered to give you the best of both worlds, teaming baby-friendly storage with luxurious leather and designer accessories. This changing bag includes all of the usual suspects for baby, with a padded changing mat, thermal bottle holder and water-repellent lining, plus some luxurious items for Mum: a leather keyring holder, luxury leather vanity pouch, and even a dust bag. For any Dads out there looking for a surefire way to put a smile on her face after the birth, this is it. Equally, if you are used to carrying a Mulberry handbag around, and the thought of giving that up is a thought too far, make this your go-to piece. You're welcome.
Part changing bag, part tongue-twister, the PacaPod Picos Pack is just as happy in the hills as on the high street. The backpack straps double as pram attachments and the 3-in-1 design means you can keep the removable changer pod and cool bag inside or attach them individually to your pram. There’s a chest strap too, which you can use if you’re carrying baby in a sling or harness, and it comes recommended by Radio One’s Jo Whiley as well as the Made for Mums Awards 2017, plus stacks of other parenting awards. It’s brilliantly designed and, while it’s a little pricey, it’s made to last (opens in new tab) and can handle any kind of environment. This is a super-stylish adventure changing bag designed for parents who spend a lot of time in the great outdoors, and with a 30-day no-quibble returns policy, there's certainly no harm in trying it out.