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Desperately Seeking the Perfect Diaper Bag

I’ve been a fan of Pottery Barn Kids since before I was ever pregnant. Inspirational catalog full of colorful and whimsical fun for fantastic nurseries and kids rooms with enough style and function to keep parents thrilled. Aside from looking great, they produce great quality items. I regularly receive the PBK catalog, and I always flip through it, drool, and dream.

So, PBK was the first company that came to mind when I thought about what would comprise the perfect diaper bag. Let’s face it, folks, there are a LOT of options out there with a price range to meet every budget need. However, regardless of price and options, how many diaper bags can really carry their weight for a parent on the go?

So, before I launch into a review of PBK’s Ultimate Diaper Bag (appropriately named, I might add), first I want to describe what I imagine the perfect diaper bag to be. In case you haven’t already figured it out, I’m extremely practical and frugal.

Sure, I like pretty things, too, but I won’t sacrifice comfort for style . . . because life is just way to short to suffer on PURPOSE.

When I consider design for anything (from women’s shoes to bags) I completely consider how it affects the user in the area of comfort and whether the item is helpful or hurtful to the spine and the user’s posture. [Chiropractic segue] Because guess what, you only get one spine . . . it can NEVER be replaced. Posture? You can sit up straight and all that jazz, but if your posture sucks, it’s probably because you’ve done a lot of things over time that cause your spine and muscles to compensate (think: falls, car accidents, childbirth, carrying heavy things around, wearing high heels, constantly typing on a computer, etc.)

Dr. Dolly’s Ideal Diaper Bag Considerations:

1. Comfort: shoulder strap padding with adjustable strap length

2. The ability to be worn as a backpack (because always wearing the diaper bag on one shoulder really will screw up your posture and make your low back sore): again, padded straps with adjustable strap length

3. Enough room for cloth diapers as well as all your on-the-go baby needs: most diaper bags on the market are geared for disposables, which is utterly frustrating for those of us who use cloth. You either need a duffle bag built for Hockey gear or a reasonably wide and deep enough diaper bag. I challenge diaper bag designers to make something functional and pretty for users of big, bulky, cloth diapers.

4. Insulated pockets for bottles or sippy cups: self-explanatory. More specifically, those pockets need to be big enough for a nursing mom’s quart-sized water bottle, and not just a little baby bottle.

5. Enough pockets and organizational compartments to help keep everything in it’s respective place: You’ve got minimal time to whip out all the essentials for changing a soiled diaper when baby’s on one of those diaper changing stations in the women’s room. You know what I mean. Baby wants to roll over, do gymnastics, pee . . . and you’ve got to whip off a dirty diaper, wipe ’em down, and attach a clean one in less than 30 seconds. When you’re trying to find what’s where in the diaper bag . . . you’re up a creek. So, more pockets = more better.

6. Padded changing pad that’s long enough for a baby that grows, oh let’s say, larger than a newborn. Sometimes I just don’t have another clean pre-fold or anything else that’s comfy and padded for baby’s head. The changing pad that came with my first diaper bag, well, if my son’s head was on it, his butt didn’t fit, and vice versa. And, I didn’t want to leave one inch of his precious baby skin exposed on those public changing tables. So, provide a generously-sized changing pad, please.

7. Easy to clean surface. Public bathrooms aren’t the cleanest places, and sometimes there isn’t a door hook to hang up your bag. Sometimes, when you open the car door, it accidentally falls out of the car into the mud/snow/salt on the side of the street (oh okay, maybe that’s JUST ME!). So, you need a bag that’s easy to wipe down, and doesn’t require dry cleaning.

8. Pretty design and color options. Yes, I’m practical, but I like design, too. I don’t want something with polka dots, flowers, or stripes that I’m going to grow tired of. Give me a classic and clean design that works for boy or girl, mom or dad, 2008 or 2012.

While considering all of those things, I looked at numerous diaper bags online and in catalogs to see if anything measured up. My options were extremely few. PBK had the Ultimate Diaper bag which, at first glance, appeared to meet most of my standards. So, I contacted Pottery Barn Kids, and they were more than happy to participate in a review.

The Pottery Barn Ultimate Diaper bag met or exceeded my expectations in almost every area. When it arrived, the tag noted that the design inspiration was due to input from a focus group of real moms–and it definitely showed!

Check out the design details and compare it to what I consider ideal/essential in a diaper bag:

  • comfort strap (check)
  • converts to backpack (check)
  • insulated bottle bag (check, times 2!)
  • removable changing pad (extra-credit check–not only is it long and wider than most, it also folds up neatly with a magnetic closure)
  • inside zipper pocket (for Mommy’s things)
  • inside clip for keys (not on my wishlist, but after using it, I think I’ll update my wishlist . . . how NICE to not have to fish for my keys!)
  • wipe-clean fabric (check)
  • magnetic closure
  • reinforced, footed bottom

The insulated bottle compartments (one on each end) have a brilliant “V”-shaped pocket that allow for easy access. I can fit a quart-sized water bottle in it.

There are more pockets in this bag than I had in my military flight suit or battle dress uniform. Seriously made for serious parents.

The enclosed changing pad is long enough for my tall son, and it folds up compactly into the size of a clutch.

What does it feel like and look like when you wear it? That’s what every potential diaper bag carrying mama (and papa) really wants to know. Is it comfortable? Does it look chic?

It’s comfortable, but there is room for improvement when worn as a backpack. The straps are padded, just like the awesome shoulder strap, however, the straps are short, so if your shoulders have a circumference for women who wear medium to large sized shirts, then the padded shoulder straps may not hit in the right place. On me, the padding felt great, but it ended abruptly above the armpit area, so I had only canvas straps digging into my skin. It needed more padding length to fit comfortably if it was to be worn in such a manner for longer than 2 minutes. I actually hiked up some fairly steep hills with the bag converted to the backpack straps (set up takes seconds, literally) and it definitely caused some armpit chafing. Ouch!

However, when worn with the shoulder strap, either across the body or on the same side, the wide, rubber-padded strap just oozes with comfort for all day wear for all your diapering tote-along needs. Just how many cloth diapers can it hold? I was able to easily fit in 7 stuffed All-In-One cloth diapers, as well as 2 changes of clothes, wipes, 2 toys, wet bag, and burp rags in the main compartment. There’s definitely room for a cloth diapering mom’s essentials.

This all-encompassing diaper bag retails for a reasonable $59. Monogrammed personalization is available for $6.50 more. Color options are chocolate, black, khaki, navy, and red. The khaki and red are currently on sale for $39.99.

**WIN IT**

Pottery Barn Kids is offering 5 chances for you to win an Ultimate Diaper Bag in chocolate here at Traveling with Baby. There will be 5 opportunities to win this bag over the next 5 weeks. If you don’t win during week one, come back and visit again on the subsequent weeks.  The Ultimate Diaper Bag contests will be open for comments on Mondays.

To enter, leave a comment about what feature(s) are most appealing in a diaper bag. What totes your fancy? The contest for Diaper Bag 1 ends at 11:59 PM (EST) on Friday, June 20th. There are a few extra days in this week’s contest. The winner will be announced on Saturday, June 21st.

Only one entry per person each contest week. Multiple entries will be deleted. The winner and 2 alternates will be selected on Random.org and announced on this post and on Prizey. If you provide your e-mail address, I will contact you. The winner has 72 hours to claim the prize, otherwise, the prize goes to the first alternate to contact me with a shipping address.

**UPDATE**

Congratulations!!  The winner of the Ultimate Diaper bag is

Brooke who said:”The most important features are size, weight, stainproofness, style, and ability to attach to the back of a stroller.”

But, if you weren’t selected, don’t fret, you have 4 more chances to win an Ultimate Diaper Bag in chocolate starting Monday, June 23rd.

128 Responses

  1. I like all the different pockets and that it changes to a backpack.

  2. One word… CLEANABILITY. Plenty of pockets are appreciated as well as straps that can be moved to fit the size of person carrying the bag.

  3. I like that it has a compartment for my things-I need a diaper bag like that!

  4. I love that our current bag converts from a shoulder bag to attach directly to the stroller – but it’s too small, because we’re a cloth diapering family, too. So a larger bag would be great, and I’d love the backpack configuration too!

    additionproblems [at] gmail [dot] com

  5. I like a bag with a light-colored non-patterned interior. And what’s up with Dry Clean or Spot Clean only bags? A diaper bag should be easy to clean!

  6. Lots of pockets, easily cleanable materials, zippers shut. Those are probably my top three.

  7. Ok!! It has to be cute – and has to be easy to clean. If it HAS to be dry-cleaned, etc. it is just not worth it!

  8. I love everything about this bag! But I would say that the best thing is that it can fit everything into its right place. I love being organized and with my baby coming this October, I’m going to need a bag to help me do just that! The plus point would be that it’s stylish, too! Practical & Pretty 🙂

  9. I think it is important to have a comfortable strap and lots of pockets to organize everything! This bag would be so perfect for my daughter who is expecting.

  10. I love that the changing pad is so compact. I hate it when the pad takes up half the space! I also love all the organization that is included in this bag. I could really use this for my two little boys under the age of two. Thanks for the contest!

  11. I like lots of compartments and a material that is easy to wipe clean.

  12. I love the versitility that it offers.

  13. It must be easy, easy to clean, and it must be comfortable. And, yes, it must be good-looking, too. :0) This one certainly is!
    Thanks!
    megret
    meg.wilson@gmail.com

  14. Pockets — LOVE of pockets both inside and out.

  15. The diaper bag must have a decent sized cganging pad, my girl is tall and I hate it when most of her is hanging off the changing pad! I like the fact that this daiper bag’s changing pad is long and wide – and that it has a magnetic closure!

  16. I am a bit of a freak when it comes to organization, so the pockts are a must…also love 2 bottle compartments and compact changing pad!

  17. Like the magnetic closure. After dropping my bag on the stairs at the dr.s office I need something that will stand up to a spill.

  18. I like lots of pockets. A place for my cell phone, and a hook for my keys are an extra bonus!

  19. The comfortable strap is a really important feature, and I can imagine that it would be the one I would feel the most grateful for!

  20. This is awesome! I love that it will convert to backpack and that its soooo stylish. I have had to revert to my last resort diaper bag due to the others having multiple injuries (broken strap, broken bottle pouch, and the other has had the draw string ripped out) UGH!!! I could use a new one!

  21. I need lots of pockets of several different sizes so I can neatly organize everything, at least temporarily!

  22. I’m also cloth diapering, so the roominess of it appeals to me!

  23. It has to be super roomy with lots of pockets but still compact. I don’t like a whole lot of stuff hanging out and falling out.

  24. I like a bag that can switch between being a backpack and regular ‘messenger’ bag. It needs some small pockets inside, at least one pocket outside for a bottle and room for a full change of clothes and then some.

    -Violet

  25. I like diaper bags that are not too big and that don’t look like a diaper bag. And that I can put my keys and phone into without loosing them!

  26. I love the pockets, pockets, pockets! So important for staying organized! And I think you should pick me, it’s my birthday on the 20th! 🙂 Thanks!!

  27. I’ve been wanting a diaper bag that converts to a backpack. It would just be nice to have both options. Also, I hate velcro on a diaper bag…or any children’s product.

  28. I love that this bag can also be worn as a backpack so that my husband hs no problem carrying it! It can be masculine looking as well as fashionable for women if carried as a traditional backpack! I love fasionable handbags so this is perfect for me too!

  29. Comfort is first on the list for me…then size (gotta hold those cloth diapers!) and functionality (pockets!). Then, weirdly enough, I love magnetic closures. I know that is odd!

  30. I love diaper bags with a wet pocket, large, but easily accessible middle pocket, and lots of side pockets for bottles or sippies!

  31. i love the size of the changing pad and the fact it has magnetic closure.so cool!

  32. Ok, I have to say that the biggest benefit of this bag for me would be SPACE, as baby #2 is arriving this summer! Thanks!

  33. Ohhh…for me I love pockets and roomy! Also compartments for diapers, wipes, etc…so you can find thing quickly! Thanks again!! This would be great as we are having our third and its finally a boy!!

  34. LOVE the features of this bag, but the V shaped side pockets are intriguing!

  35. I love the large diaper changing pad. I have tall babies as well, and it’s nice to find something that they can be clean on!!

  36. With twins, we need space for enough diapers, wipes, and sippy cups! I like a bag that has good compartments to keep things organized and doesn’t slip off my shoulder when I am bending down to hold my toddlers’ hands.

  37. I’ve been carrying a Dadgear messenger bag, and good grief, that thing is unwieldy. I’d love a smaller bag that stands up on it’s own and still has lots of storage compartments.

  38. The most important features are size, weight, stainproofness, style, and ability to attach to the back of a stroller.

  39. I need to have a bag that keeps me super organized! I love tons of pockets and easily accessible compartments. Also would love something that can function as a tote as well as a backpack. Would love love to win this!! Thanks!

  40. Is durable, holds everything and allows me to carry it (and the baby!) comfortably.

  41. I like all of the different compartments.

  42. that it fits everything

  43. wow so cute, I haven’t found one for our twin girls that I like yet.

  44. The features I like most in a diaper bag are a big, wide open main compartment, durability, and it has to be easy to clean. I especially like the fact that this one can be used as a backpack. Thanks!

  45. Great bag! It has a place for everything without being too bulky!

  46. Wow! I love this bag. This is what every mom needs. It’s stylish and chic rolled up into one fabulous bag capable of carrying a motherlode (hehe, I made a funny, not that kind of funny, lol) of oft-needed supplies without being cumbersome.
    Thanks for having this giveaway! Please enter me.
    Thanks again!

  47. Finally a diaper bag that has been thought through completely!! Organization is my first priority!! I do find appearance to be important in certain situations! I love everything about this diaper bag!!

  48. Love on ewith all the pockets and still be able to unfold to change baby.

  49. First and foremost, it must look good, and this bag is just my style. After that the other key features the bag has is the footed bottom. I have had diaper bags without this, and the bottom of the bag ends up all nasty, because let’s face it, sometimes you have to put the bag on the ground outside. It happens. Also pockets, pockets, pockets. I lose everything in my current diaper bag due to lack of pockets. I need a zippered pocket for my things, and I love the 2 pockets for sippy’s/bottles, since I have 2 under 2. Great prize!

  50. FINALLY! **a diaper bag that daddy won’t mind carrying! 🙂 a very nice and chic product! Would love to have one of these!

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