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 stuff than Take That takes on tour - and hearing a similar amount of screaming.
Normal handbags and backpacks just don’t cut it when you not only need to carry lots of things, but to get access to them instantly. A few moments fumbling inside a disorganised bag can mean the difference between mewling and a complete meltdown.
The best changing bags are easy to clean and water resistant - you don’t want the contents to get soggy either because of a 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, and comfortable straps are a must. Secure pram attachments make life a whole lot easier too, and if the bag looks good as well then that’s a definite bonus.
There are lots of changing bags out there but we believe that these five are the ones you’ll like the best - and we’ve based that on real mums’ and dads’ reviews, parenting magazine awards and our own inimitable sense of style.
1. Mia Tui Emma Changing Bag
The changing bag that looks like a proper bag
Dimensions: 44 x 17 x 31 cm | Main fabric: Faux Leather | Weight: 0.99kg | Changing mat: Yes | Shoulder strap: Yes | Easy clean: Yes
Mother & Baby magazine gave this stylish bag a Gold Award in 2017, with good reason: it doesn’t look remotely like a changing bag, but it still does the job of a changing bag. It’s available in a range of colours including browns, blues and reds as well as black, and it includes two removable internal bags: a clear PVC one for baby bits such as the obligatory Ella’s Kitchen pouches and pieces and a clutch bag for mum’s stuff. There are two insulated pockets for bottle holders, a travel changing mat and clips to attach the bag to a pram and to make sure you don’t lose your keys. It puts the fun back into functional and doesn’t cost too much either.
2. Koo-di Lottie Changing Bag
The best changing bag for everyday life
Dimensions: 48 x 18 x 52 cm | Main fabric: Polyester | Weight: 0.82kg | Changing mat: Yes | Shoulder strap: No | Easy clean: Yes
The Koo-di Lottie is doing big numbers on Amazon and with good reason: it’s another Mother & Baby Award winner, 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. That makes 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, but it’s not really a shoulder bag unless you’re quite small: the main strap is fairly short.
3. Mothercare Messenger Changing Bag
The best changing bag for those on a budget
Dimensions: H31 x W45 x D15cm | Main fabric: Polyester | Weight: 0.95kg | Changing mat: Yes | Shoulder strap: Yes | Easy clean: Yes
Normally £40, this changing bag is £28 at Mothercare at the time of writing. That makes it a bargain: it comes in a rainbow of colours from vivid red, pink and blue to more sober clay and black, it has a padded shoulder strap to stop the bag from hurting, an external drink pocket, includes a padded changing mat and messy bag for easy baby changes and has been treated with microban anti-bacterial protection to keep things germ-free. We reckon this one’s a good unisex option, even in pink: that option is the hot pink of sportswear rather than a pale pink. Mums and dads love it: the Reevo reviews are positive about pretty much everything bar the price, which Mothercare has since reduced.
4. Uppababy Changing Bag in Denny Red
Designed to match prams but works fine on its own
Dimensions: H30 x W32 x D12cm | Main fabric: Polyester | Weight: 0.58kg | Changing mat: Yes | Shoulder strap: Yes | Easy clean: Yes
If you’re worried that having made an actual human being by having a 'special hug' with a real live lady isn’t enough proof of your manliness, there are plenty of changing bags that don’t come in pink or covered with flowers - so you don’t need to cart baby’s bottles around in a Gola satchel or your business briefcase. Uppababy’s bags are designed to colour co-ordinate with the firm’s pushchairs and prams, but there’s no reason not to consider them in isolation: they look like big laptop bags and have four elasticated inner pockets, a key or dummy clip, two external pockets, an insulated bottle pocket and a changing mat. That’s more than enough room for baby kit, car magazines and lager.
5. PacaPod Picos Pack Changing Bag
For urban adventurers and outdoors explorers alike
Dimensions: H45 x W34 x L20 | Main fabric: Polyester | Weight: 0.95kg | Changing mat: Yes | Shoulder strap: Backpack style | Easy clean: Yes
Part changing bag, part tongue-twister, the PacaPod Picos Pack is happy in the hills and in 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 and stacks of other parenting awards. It’s brilliantly designed and while it’s a little pricey it’s made to last and can handle any kind of environment. There’s a 30-day no-quibble returns policy too.