When I was pregnant with my son I spent hours online researching the best baby products. I read through safety ratings for car seats and strollers, looked at pricing guides for baby monitors and breast pumps, and pinned endless pages of nursery decor. Before my son arrived we had almost everything we needed for him – his clothes were washed and folded, his crib was constructed and made up, and his car seat was strapped firmly into the back seat. The one item we didn't have though was a diaper bag. I looked and looked for the right diaper bag before he was born but I never found one that met all of my requirements. It seemed that most diaper bags were either really ugly, really expensive, or really impractical.
After my boy was born, we used a hand-me-down bag from a friend for a little while before finally purchasing one of our own. Though it served its purpose, I still thought that it was expensive, unattractive, and didn't quite hold everything we needed it to. As my son began to grow and need just a little bit less stuff every time we left the house, I realized that really, almost any sort of bag could work as a diaper bag. Since then, I've discovered several non-traditional ways to carry around what my son needs without bringing along a bulky diaper bag.
Use a Backpack
While some diaper bags may be cuter than backpacks, nothing compares to backpacks when it comes to functionality. Backpacks are easy to carry when you're chasing your little one around the park or taking a long stroll at the zoo, and their many pockets make it easy to keep them neat and organized. They're also easy to pass off from caregiver to caregiver without fear of anything falling out and tend to be easy to keep track of due to their size. As a bonus, they're often big enough to keep your things in as well, so you won't have to juggle multiple bags like you usually do when using a diaper bag.
Many women I know (myself included) have pretty large purses. Your purse might be full of your own things right now, but if you clean out anything that might be unnecessary and make a little room, there's likely space for your toddler's essentials. Though you won't have room to pack for an overnight trip, most purses do have space for a one-piece change of clothes, 2-3 diapers, a travel pack of wipes, and a small snack. Save yourself from having to pack a whole bag for a quick trip to a restaurant by making room for a little baby gear inside your purse.
Try a Regular Tote Bag
Most diaper bags really aren't that different than the large canvas totes you'd find at Target, but since they're called a diaper bag they can cost quite a bit more. With pool and beach season on the way, many big-box and department stores have a wide selection of tote and beach bags available that just might make the perfect diaper bag.
So, while most baby registries recommend you get a traditional diaper bag, don't be afraid to look around and find something that might be cuter, cheaper and more functional.
Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More