Updated: October 30th 2023
The dad diaper bag - or changing bag as it's better known in the UK - has never been more popular than it is now.
The role of a father has undoubtedly changed in recent years, with dads more hands-on and engaged with the day to day upbringing of their children. Getting ready for fatherhood means preparing yourself for the good bits, the less good bits, and the really messy bits!
Gone are the days where men refuse to change their baby's nappy. Instead, we have a generation of dads who take on a very different parenting role, who love to take their kids out on their own. And that means needing to stay equipped with all the baby gear.
Over the course of this guide, we'll look at why the dad diaper bag has become such a staple purchase, what to pack in your diaper bag, and we've got 10 of our favourite diaper bags to recommend for you.
Why are dad bags popular?
Quite simply, the men's diaper bag is so popular because dads are so much more involved in the day-to-day care of their children than ever before. Being a dad also makes up a bigger part of our wider identity than ever before.
Sure we could share a diaper bag with the mum, but diaper bags for dads are more practical for us and also allow us to express our own identity. Traditionally, diaper bags have been designed for mothers; often reflected in the size and design. There are some great unisex options available, but the best diaper bags for dads are made specifically with dads in mind - not just the design, but the size and practicality.
What makes a great dad diaper bag?
There are plenty of diaper bags for a new father to choose from, but there are certain key features that you need to look for for. Because all of the best diaper bags for dads have them in common.
First, though, we need to consider the different types of diaper bag. They're usually either a backpack or shoulder bag. The backpack diaper bag tends to be bigger and more functional than the shoulder bag, but they do also tend to be more expensive. Brands and retailers will often include a shoulder bag as part of a bundle deal on their strollers and car seats. However, because they're usually so much smaller than the backpacks, we tend to favour the practicality of a diaper backpack.
Let's take a look at what makes a great dad diaper bag.
Picture the scene...you're out and about, having a great time with your baby when, suddenly, you smell something horrific. You rush to the closest baby changing facilities (probably at the third attempt because so many places still only have them in the women's toilets), undress your little bundle of joy to find the most almighty of explosions.
You're simultaneously trying to hold their legs up in the air and desperately trying to stop them reaching down there with their hands, while rummaging around in the diaper bag for wipes, a fresh diaper, and perhaps some clean clothes.
So yeah, it's really important that the contents of your diaper bag are easily accessible. Typically, a diaper backpack will open out at the zip to create a larger access space.
Along with easy access, the actual capacity of your diaper bag is one of the most important factors. I'm sure you already know that baby's come with a lot of stuff (more on what to pack in the diaper bag shortly!) - so you need to be sure your diaper bag can carry all that. Don't forget, when they start eating solid foods, you'll need space for snacks, food, bibs, spoons, bowls. You'll also need space for seasonal things like an extra blanket in the winter or a hat and suncream in the summer.
And you'll probably want to use it to store some of your stuff, too.
One of the biggest complaints dads have about traditional the diaper bag backpack is that the straps just aren't big enough. Because they're typically designed for mums, it's a job just to get them on your back. So getting a diaper backpack with dad-sized straps will be a big factor in comfort and ease of use.
The best diaper bags have separate compartments, making it easier to find different things. Zippered pockets and water resistant layers are essential here.
You may well have made up a bottle before you left and need to keep it warm. At least one insulated bottle pocket is considered an essential, but the best diaper bags tend to have space for two bottles.
Let's not forget the core purpose of the diaper bag. There's every chance it's going to get messy at one stage or another, so having it made of wipe-clean or machine washable fabrics is pretty important.
This one certainly isn't an essential because you could just buy one separately, but a good diaper bag will usually have a matching changing pad included so that you've always got somewhere soft to lay your baby, wherever you are.
The 10 best changing bags for dads
It's time to take a look at our pick of the 10 best diaper bags for dads.
“The bag is great. Lots of pockets and compartments, (plus it) is durable and gender neutral so dad won’t feel embarrassed carrying it!”
This diaper backpack from Lekebaby is simple, stylish and efficient. Carry it suitcase or backpack style, so you can have your hands free when you need them. It is superbly functional, with 19 separate compartments and pockets including two insulated bottle pockets. It is waterproof inside and out meaning there's no danger of wet clothes seeping into other compartments. There's also a dedicated pocket for baby wipes meaning you can pull the wipes straight out of the bag, rather than having to pull out the pack every time.
“More than enough storage for 2 kids worth of nappy changes, spare clothes, snacks, and on the go entertainment."
We like this sophisticated backpack because of its excellent build quality, extra wide opening and thick padded shoulder straps for added comfort. Overall size is usually a big issue for dads when it comes to diaper bags, but the adjustable straps are great on this. It’s got all the pockets and compartments you could need, and also has a padded laptop sleeve in case you get to fire off a few emails during nap time. The mummy/daddy pocket for keys etc is also a good idea.
“Great nappy changing bag, very compact and lightweight, but with plenty of capacity.”
The Yipoint changing bag is a cost-effective way to get a well designed changing solution, with a good range of pockets and compartments, including a water resistant pouch to keep wipes or wet materials. It also has a couple of elasticated pockets to keep certain items safe and snug inside. Uniquely, it also boast a USB port on the outside of the bag, so there’s no need for a bulky separate portable power supply.
“This is a lovely bag - it looks and feels great and is big enough for all you could need for big and small trips out with baby, but small enough to not look or feel too bulky.”
This is certainly a pricier diaper backpack, but it is both spacious and well designed, with numerous pockets and comfortable padded straps. The leather handle is a nice touch for when you’re carrying the bag briefcase style, and it’s all very well made, with a tough, durable feel. There's also a handy hidden mesh compartment designed to prevent theft of any of your valuables.
“Great bag and product - worth every penny!”
This top of the range nappy backpack is sleek, stylish and full-featured for a cool dad. It is machine washable and stain repellent - which is helpful - and features an antimicrobial lining which is perfect when you don't have a bin to dispose of those dirty diapers. It includes a memory foam changing pad, sunglass holder and key fob stretch cord.
This could be the perfect choice if you don’t want to spend much on a diaper backpack. It comes in cheaper than the rest, and yet is both stylish and functional. It’s waterproof, roomy enough and features dry and wet separation pockets. There are compromises at that price - it’s not machine washable and you’ll need to buy separate hooks if you want to connect it to a stroller - but it’s excellent value for money nonetheless.
"The Max Ezra bag has been designed for dads and I immediately feel part of a dad club."
The Max Ezra brand is newer to the market, and has positioned itself as “stylish changing bag backpacks for the modern dad". The bag itself is certainly positioned as an every day bag that can be used as a men's diaper bag, rather than a diaper bag that can be used for the every day. The storage easily allows you to store a laptop, notepad, phone, charger, aftershave, keys. And still plenty of space for gym clothes and a book.
"The bag is a quality bag, zippers are all great, the removable waist band was an unexpected bonus. This one is perfect for active families."
Built to military standards, this backpack is designed for larger families or those who like to do regular outdoor activities - hiking, climbing, and any other outdoor play. As you would expect this bag takes the regular features of other bags, and makes them bigger! It has a 25L large main compartment and a large 2.5" x 8" hook and loop strip, insulated bottle pockets and tonnes of accessory pockets. It has a removable waist strap and is 600D waterproof, with breathable mesh panels making it particularly comfortable to wear.
This is a diaper bag designed for those longer days out. It's a diaper backpack styled as a messenger bag with seriously large capacity across it's 16 inches in height and 7.5 inches in depth. It's spacious enough to hold most of baby essentials and still look well organised and compact. It also has a USB charging port built in alongside insulated pockets to maintain core temperature for items like baby bottles. Uniquely, the changing pad folds out from a zippered pocket that sits against your back.
"Easy to wipe and lots of space. Easy to close even when full, but perhaps a little small."
One thing you will notice immediately about the Stokke changing bag is that, unlike the traditional rucksack design, this bag can be worn on your back or over your shoulder. It has a foldable changing mat and detachable carrier bag. It is easily adjustable and has pockets of various sizes including a waterproof side pocket.
What to include in your dad diaper bag
Now that you've picked your men's diaper bag, it's time to think about everything you'll need to pack (and some things that might not be essential, but you'll definitely want to pack).
What you need to pack and how much of it will often depend on how long you're going out for and what type of activity. For the purpose of this list, we'll keep to pretty general outings.
Exactly how many nappies you need to pack will depend on how old your baby is and how long you're going out for. It's a good rule of thumb to pack one diaper for every 2-3 hours you expect to be out, plus some extra diapers in case of some code brown emergencies.
Of course, you'll need a pack of wipes for any changes. But you'll soon learn (if you haven't already) that baby wipes quickly become a parent's best friend. We end up using them for everything. If the pack is nearing the end, be sure to bring an extra pack to be safe. You don't want to run out after another explosion!
If you've bought a diaper bag without a changing pad, you'll need to buy one first. Even if it comes with the bag, you still need to double check you have it with you. It's quite an easy item to pull out, put aside for a moment and then totally forget about.
A lot of shops, supermarkets, restaurants and leisure places will have dedicated diaper bins, but there's every chance you'll do some diaper changes where there are no facilities. In those situations, you'll definitely need some diaper bags (also known as diaper sacks) to carry the dirty diapers.
Helpfully, barrier cream brands sell mini tubs of their products so that they don't take up loads of space in the bag.
Change of clothes
You should definitely carry at least one change of clothes for the likely event that your baby's clothes get wet or dirty. But you may want to consider taking more than one change, depending on how long you're going out for. If you're concerned about space, you could take a spare outfit and then something like a babygrow as a back-up option.
If you're using a dummy or pacifier, it's a good idea to bring a spare. We all know that babies love to throw them on the floor, either to quickly remove the barrier to food or to show how displeased they are!
Muslin clothes are superb for mopping up bits of dribble, sick, food, and a runny nose. They're a brilliant alternative to going through tonnes of wipes.
Bottles and milk
Whether your baby is breastfed or formula-fed, if you're taking them out on your own, you'll need two sterilised bottles (or perhaps more if you're out for a while).
If your baby is formula fed, you can either measure out the heaps of formula and store in a plastic container until you're ready to add it to the hot water. Or, you can make up the bottle at home and keep it in the cooler compartment for up to four hours. Some formula brands also sell ready-mixed cartons that simply need to be poured into a sterilised bottle.
The same rules apply if your baby will have expressed breastmilk. Keep it in the bag's cooler compartment and warm with a bottle warmer if necessary.
Solid food supplies
The capacity and design of the diaper bag is really put to the test when your baby starts eating solid foods, because it's not just diaper changes and milk feeds you need to think about.
All of a sudden, you need to pack the food itself, a bowl (some products will already in packaged in a small bowl), one or two spoons and one or two bibs, depending on the how long the trip is.
It's also a good idea to pack some finger food snacks like carrot sticks.
A book or small toys like a rattle or something that will attach to their stroller are always a great idea to keep your little one entertained whether it's on the go or while you're taking a little sit down in a cafe.
What do you need?
Wallet, keys, phone.. these are the obvious items you'll probably want to store in your diaper bag. However, if you're expecting to sit down and have a coffee or get some work done while your baby is napping, think about bringing your laptop or tablet, or a book along with you.
Don't be afraid to pack your own snacks, too!
What makes a diaper bag for dads rather than mums?
In reality, there are plenty of options on the market that work brilliantly for mums and dads. However, the diaper bag has typically been designed for the mother - whether that's in it's style or the overall size. Many new dads have complained about even getting the diaper bag on their back because the straps aren't designed for broader shoulders.
There are some brands that have designed a diaper bag specifically for dads.
What makes the best diaper bag?
The whole point of a diaper bag is to carry the essentials you need to change your baby. But doing that in a way that makes the whole process a lot easier and more comfortable makes all the difference.
It needs to have plenty of storage space without feeling like you're lugging a huge rucksack designed for month-long treks in the mountains, it needs to be practical and comfortable. It needs to be easy to access as well as having insulated bottle pockets and waterproof lining.
How much does a good diaper bag cost?
There are generally two price ranges when it comes to the diaper bag. The budget range tends to be anything between $30-50 (£25-40) and there are certainly some great men's diaper bags in this price bracket. The more premium options tend to cost upwards of $70 (£60), with a few of the most expensive choices costing over $100 (£80).
Why do dads need their own diaper bag?
It's a fair question, especially in a time in history where we were more mindful of unnecessary consumption and purchasing for environmental reasons.
The modern dad is far more engaged and active in their child's life than ever before, so we need and want something that offers comfort and practicality that matches the level of engagement. Also, more dads want to show their personality as a father, and don't necessarily want to share a bag with their partner.
There's also the practicality of sharing a bag, and not having to remove one person's items and add your own in when you're in a rush.