There's no single perfect diaper bag for every parent, but there are certain bags in each category that stand out and practically beg to be clutched by the spare arm that's not holding the hand of your fully mobile older toddler. All of these bags incorporate style, versatility, durability and practicality, and most of all, cater to the needs of parents whose kids now have bigger everything, including clothes, diapers, toys and even messes.
The Messenger Bag
The absolute best diaper bag for parents who travel with older toddlers isn't technically a diaper bag at all. The Timbuk2 Command Laptop TSA-Friendly Messenger Bag is divine for navigating everything from airport security checkpoints to a day at the zoo with your tot in tow ($140 from Timbuk2.com). The zippered laptop pouch allows you to glide through security without unloading your computer, which you need to keep your toddler occupied for that five-hour flight to Grandma's. The side pouch holds a sippy cup and the front organizer is useful for travel wipes, kid utensils and small toys. The separate tablet sleeve can double as a compartment for soiled bibs and clothes. Additionally, the gender-neutral look is sleek on either parent, and the company’s lifetime warranty means this bag can take a beating.
Another diaper bag in disguise is the sublimely hip Dawn Convertible Diaper Bag in Cloud Blue by timi & leslie ($150 from Diapers.com). Now that your child is older, you don't necessarily want your bag to scream, "I'm a mom!" This tote has a ton of compartments, a detachable shoulder strap, PVC-free faux leather that wipes clean, a changing pad, an insulated bottle (or snack cup) tote and a zippered clothes sac. And despite all the fabulously practical features, you'll crave this bag because it's chic and will remind you of when you used to store a spare pair of heels rather than spare training pants.
The Everything Bag
For the parent who thrives on being prepared or has multiple children, the Skip Hop Bento Diaper Tote Bag is the ultimate in organization ($99 from skiphop.com). Utilitarian in style, this bag boasts an eight-piece mealtime kit with insulated cooler bag, essential for any parent who packs separate meals for picky eaters or kids with food allergies. There's also a changing pad, 15 compartments, a shoulder strap and shuttle clips for stroller attachment. This bag is ideal for parents of either gender who spend a great deal of time out with their toddler in varied settings or for families with kids in multiple age groups.
Sometimes the Simplest is the Best Solution
If your toddler is achieving greater independence every day, you may not want to carry around a portable changing table and playroom anymore. Another bag that's styled for both dads and moms is the comparatively compact Carryall Diaper Bag from L.L.Bean ($69 from llbean.com). This nylon bag is simple yet versatile, with several pockets and zippered compartments for toys and diapers or undies and a changing pad. The bag has clean lines proclaiming the practical yet classy look that is characteristic of L.L.Bean and combines quality with good value.