Diaper bags. They are often one of the first pieces of gear new moms purchase for themselves with the excitement of a new addition joining their family. But many of them are bulky, and oftentimes you find yourself digging down deep into the abyss of a huge bag just to find that one tiny pacifier, favorite lovie, or *gasp* your phone.
But what can you carry instead of a diaper bag that still does the job without you having to lug around a bag that basically breaks your back?
Why You Should Ditch the Shoulder Diaper Bag
Traditional diaper bags are notoriously heavy and bulky, so much so that they can do some serious damage to your back, especially if you are carrying them around long term. Alternative diaper bag options give your back a break because they are often smaller in size or more ergonomic like diaper bag backpacks. A study conducted in Italy in 2016 found that carrying heavy bags resulted in chronic back pain for almost 60% of their testing group. They also found that “carrying loads unequally, such as when a child carries a backpack on one shoulder, can cause the more frequently loaded shoulder to be lower and may cause lateral spinal curves.”
Another study in 2014 found that although ergonomic backpacks are helpful in carrying heavy loads for long periods, the best way to prevent chronic back problems is by carrying less weight. For moms, that might seem impossible with everything they need to have in their diaper bags at all times. But using a diaper bag alternative might help force you to pack less every time you leave the house- most diaper bag alternatives are smaller than traditional diaper bags making you pack less and having less weight on your back.
What Moms Should Pack in their Diaper Bags
So what exactly should moms pack in their diaper bags? It will vary by your child’s age, their needs, and if you are packing for more than one child but you don’t need to pack for an entire weekend just to run some errands.
- 1-2 diapers per diapered child
- 1 water bottle for toddler or bottle for baby (if necessary)
- 1-2 favorite snacks for a toddler
- 1 toy or lovie
Another tip is to leave some supplies in your car. Instead of packing 4 to 5 diapers for each child, just pack one (maybe two for newborns) in your diaper bag. Have extra diapers in your car, along with extra favorite snacks, extra changes of clothes, and extra wipes. This way you are carrying less but you always have a stash close by if you need extra. (PS: maybe leave an extra pair of clothes for you in the car, too, especially if you have a newborn).
What You Types of Bags You Can Use in Place of a Diaper Bag
There are several different types of bags you can use as a diaper bag alternative. Any bag you have at home works well as a diaper bag; you don’t have to have anything specifically designed to be a diaper bag or that is marketed as a diaper bag. Here are some options for diaper bag alternatives that aren’t actually diaper bags.
Backpacks: Backpacks make great diaper bags for so many reasons. One is that they evenly distribute the weight onto both shoulders rather than just one, which will help prevent back pain. Another reason is that it keeps your hands totally free. It also helps free up space in shopping carts when you are running errands. Dad might be more likely to want to hold it, too, especially if it looks just like a regular backpack.
RELATED: 10 Best Diaper Bag Backpacks
Canvas totes: Canvas totes are a great eco-friendly option for a diaper bag alternative. They are easily to clean, often just with a little spot cleaning with soap and water or they can be machine washed. They are often very roomy on the interior but they don’t often have several pockets- usually just one large interior one which means you have to be organized to keep everything in there without getting it lost in the abyss.
Regular purses: Regular handbags and purses are often very useful as diaper bags. They usually have plenty of space, several pockets to help keep you organized, and can go with any outfit without looking like you’re carrying around a big bulky diaper bag. They are also convenient because then you do not have to switch from the diaper bag to a different bag every time you go out without your baby.
Laptop bags: Laptop bags are great as diaper bags because they have so many pockets to help keep you organized. They hold plenty of items as the laptop section is big enough for diapers, wipes, and some other baby needs. But they aren’t bulky- many laptop bags are thin and compact, giving you the space you need without having to carry a bunch of stuff at once.
Crossbody bag: Some purses, totes, and laptop bags can easily be converted to crossbody bags with removable straps, but some bags are made just to be crossbody bags. The nice thing about crossbody bags is that they are often thinner than regular bags so you can’t hold as much stuff inside, which in the case of diaper bags that seem to quickly and easily get weighed down, is a good thing. They also can double as a daily handbag so when you are without your baby for a little “me” time (read: perusing the aisles of Target alone and in silence) you don’t have to switch from the diaper bag to a different bag.
Tips to Keep Your Non-Diaper Bag Diaper Bag Organized
One of the biggest issues behind not getting a traditional diaper bag is that other bags, particularly tote bags, do not have quite as many pockets and organization as traditional diaper bags. However, there are a few ways to get around that and give yourself some additional organization even when not using a regular diaper bag.
Add a purse organizer: You can purchase a purse organizer, like this one, to help you create functional space and pockets inside your bags. In fact, these are great to have in general because you can easily lift it out when you want to switch from a diaper bag to a regular purse without having to take everything out individually. It also helps you to keep your diaper bag clean.
Put everything in little baggies: If you are using a traditional purse or laptop bag versus a tote bag, chances are that you will already have little pockets on the inside. But if you still need some additional organization, you can put different items in reusable baggies to keep them organized. You can even color-code them so you can easily find what you’re looking for. For example, using these reusable baggies from Stortite, you can use the red one for pacifiers, the blue one for snacks, and the green one for backup snacks( you know you’ll need them).
Line everything up – don’t just dump it in: One of the hardest parts about keeping any bag organized, especially a diaper bag, is our tendency just to throw everything in haste, even when you are using baggies or a purse organizer. But the best way to keep a diaper bag neat is to line everything up vertically so it can be found easily. Try your best to do that when repacking the bag so that when you do need to find something quickly you don’t have to dig for it.
Have a designated place for important things like keys and phone and special toys/needs for baby: Did your parents ever tell you to keep important things in the same place so you can always find them? The same goes for your personal belongings when using a larger bag like a diaper bag. Have a designated spot for the essentials like your phone, keys, or a special lovie, pacifier, or toy for your little one so you can always find it and aren’t searching for it. Nothing is worse than sifting through the black hole of a giant bag trying to find your phone as the pediatrician is calling you back (finally) or to have a screaming baby just wanting their special lovie that you can’t find because your bag is like Mary Poppins bag.
Diaper Bag Alternatives that Make You Look Cool
Diaper bags don’t have to be bulky, childish looking, or look like you’re taking your entire household with you to run a quick errand to Target. Save your back and your sanity all while still looking cool with these diaper bag alternatives.
This gorgeous vegan leather backpack from Luli Bebe doubles as a diaper bag. It has plenty of pockets both inside and outside of the bag to hold bottles, toys, snacks, diapers, and a change of clothes. It also has stroller straps and a changing pad, making it easier than ever to take this with you no matter where you are. Backpacks are always a great alternative to a traditional diaper bag because they evenly distribute the weight on your shoulders. This vegan leather backpack from Luli Bebe comes in several colors like this trendy, spring-time pastel pink as well as more traditional and classic black, brown, and grey.
Looking for a diaper bag backpack that doesn’t look like a diaper bag? This sophisticated looking backpack from HaloVa doubles as a purse or a travel backpack, helping you go seamlessly from mom-mode to boss-mode. It is made with vegan leather and has plenty of space on the inside. There are several pockets as well, which will help to keep you organized for both baby and yourself, all while looking chic and lovely.
Canvas totes are a great, eco-friendly alternative to diaper bags. This brightly-colored canvas tote from Lily Queen will easily hold everything you need as a diaper bag, but it also works as the perfect carry-all for trips to the farmer’s market or running around on the daily. It can either be hand-carried or placed on your shoulders like a regular tote or crossbody bag. Get a simple Mommy Hook or carabiner to place it on your stroller or a shopping cart
Diaper bag or beach bag? Those who love the ocean and the coast will love this canvas tote from Aleah Wear. The nautical look will remind you of relaxing in the sand, and you can even take it there because the canvas outer shell makes it easy to wipe down and clean (PS- it is easy to clean spit-up off of it, too!). It has plenty of space for all of your baby needs. It is even big enough to use for moms of multiples.
If you’re looking for something that can double as your daily purse, then this Nusz Top Handle Satchel from ALDO is perfect. It is gorgeous, classic looking, and works well with any outfit- even the Mom-iform of leggings, a messy bun, and a t-shirt. You can easily go from mom life to date night with this diaper bag alternative. It has plenty of space for everything your baby needs for running errands or walking around the park, but it’s not so bulky that it will take up a ton of space. It is beautiful and classic, and something you will probably want to hold on to even after your baby is out of diapers.
Another classic handbag look, this vegan leather handbag from Daesin can easily double as a diaper bag and a regular, daily-use purse. The interior offers plenty of space with additional pockets to help keep you organized, and you can wear it as a handbag, tote, or crossbody bag with the removable strap. It even comes with a matching wallet so you can look oh-so-chic as you pull out your Target card (come on, we are all dreaming of the day that can happen again). The vegan leather is easy to wipe down from spills and messes, too.
Laptop bags are great alternatives to diaper bags because not only do they offer plenty of space, but they also usually have a ton of pockets to help keep you organized. They are often thinner than traditional bags, too. This beautiful multi-pocket diaper bag from Ease Gave is a great option for a diaper bag alternative. It has 8 interior pockets that give you plenty of space to organize everything baby-related and non-baby related. The grey-purple is perfect for all seasons, and it can be worn as a regular handbag or a crossbody bag to keep your hands free.
Canvas is always a good option when looking at diaper bags or any bags you plan to have around your kids because they are easy to wipe down and are often machine washable. This canvas laptop bag from CanvasLife is thin, not bulky, and has plenty of pockets for storage and organization. It can be worn as a crossbody bag or over the shoulder, and the striped nautical look is great for all moms.
Crossbody bags are always a great option for moms because they help to keep your hands free. This cute oversized flap over crossbody bag from ALYSSA has two compartments to help keep you even more organized. It is thin and not bulky and is perfect for errand running or date nights. The saddlebag look is trendy and classy looking. It will quickly become a favorite for you both when you are with your baby or no.
This large crossbody bag from Fossil is a great alternative to diaper bags. It is large enough to carry everything you need for your baby as well as plenty of interior and exterior pockets to keep you organized. It even has a designated spot for your keys! The crossbody design keeps your hands free, and the fabric material makes it easy to wipe down. This is a great crossbody for moms of multiples, too, giving you plenty of space for the babies things without being to0 large and bulky.
Moms don’t always want to be lugging around a huge and uncomfortable diaper bag. Especially as your little ones get older, they won’t need as much stuff for quick trips inside the store or bumbling around the park. Get something that is functional for when you’re with your little one but also cute enough to wear when they aren’t with you so you don’t have to constantly switch back and forth from a diaper bag to a regular purse.
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