The Bag Drag
New moms have been known to go shopping in their bedroom slippers, and many a bleary-eyed mama has ventured into public without the benefit of a shower. But like an American Express card, there’s one thing the mother of a young child will simply not leave home without: her diaper bag.
Like a first-aid kit to a paramedic or a supply pack to a hiker, the diaper bag is a parent’s safety net and lifeline when the going gets rough in public. Stocked with fresh diapers, an extra pacifier and a warm blanket, it’s a baby’s home away from home. For women who choose trendy patterns and designer labels, the bag doubles as a purse and is carefully selected to make a fashion statement. For others, the bag belongs to the baby and her personality is reflected in its pink toile with pom-pom fringe or in the navy blue fabric with his name embroidered on the side. One of the country’s bestselling diaper bags is a practical black and tan tote that both moms and dads feel comfortable carrying, and that can double as a gym bag or carry-on luggage once the babies turn into big kids.
With all the choices out there, how do you decide which diaper bag is right for you? Think of it this way: diaper bags are like cars—80 percent of the parts are ubiquitous. It’s the 20 percent that comprise the features and style that sets each one apart. Every automobile has four wheels, a steering wheel and an engine, but you select a car based on details like sunroofs, paint colors, and safety records.
The fact is that most diaper bags, whether they’re purchased secondhand on eBay for $20 or handmade in New York and personalized with your child’s name for $300, all come with a standard set of features: a matching changing pad, elastic bands or pockets to hold bottles, numerous compartments for snacks, wipes, extra clothes, rattles, pacifiers and other miscellaneous baby gear, a big space in the middle for diapers and receiving blankets, and wide straps for comfort.
Some models boast cell phone holders, key clips, insulated sections to keep milk cool, and waterproof zippered baggies to store soiled onesies or dirty diapers. Most bags are machine washable. Taking wash-ability a step further, plastic-covered totes are becoming increasingly popular. Therefore, just as you decide whether you’re the cherry red sports car type or a practical blue minivan person, before embarking on your search for a diaper bag, you have to determine what your needs are and what sort of bag you’ll feel happy carrying everywhere you go for the next few years.