Watching your baby grow up is hard.
What’s not hard is finally being able to leave all the baby stuff at home when you leave the house!
You’ll still need a few things when you head out for the day with your toddler, but the load gets significantly lighter.
If you’re looking for the best diaper bag for a toddler, you’ll be happy to know that you can finally spring for something that doesn’t SCREAM “diaper bag” — a smaller purse-style or backpack-style bag will work just fine.
What you need in your toddler bag will depend on their age, if they’re potty trained (and how well), and any special needs. I’ve also broken down my favorites into budget and high-end picks for moms and dads.
- Best budget diaper bag for toddler (moms) – Portable Changing Pad Diaper Clutch (Amazon)
- Best high-end diaper bag for toddler (moms) – Baby Sense Melaine Mom & Baby Diaper Bag (Amazon)
- Best budget diaper bag for toddler (dads) – Diaper Dude Cross Body Messenger Bag for Men (Amazon)
- Best high-end diaper bag for toddler (dads) – HSD Diaper Bag Tactical Backpack (Amazon)
Now let’s take a closer look at how to buy a diaper bag for hitting the town with your toddler.
What to look for in a diaper bag for a toddler
We usually grab our first diaper bag early in the newborn years, when we’re toting around milk, bottles, several diapers, diaper cream, multiple outfits, toys, and more.
If you’re getting a new bag for the toddler years, what exactly should you be looking for?
In short: Keep it simple.
Toddler diaper bags can be a little smaller and more minimalist than bags for babies.
Again, it will all depend on the age of your toddler and plenty of other factors, but usually, when you’re leaving the house with a potty-trained 2, 3 or 4-year-old you’ll need:
- Change of clothes and shoes
- A spare diaper or two
- A plastic bag for wet clothes (from accidents or spills)
- Water bottle or juice
That’s pretty much it!
All the usual features of diaper bags are great and helpful, like:
- Stroller straps
- Changing pads
- Bottle holders
- Extra compartments for creams, etc.
But none of them are 100% necessary.
Mostly what you need is a normal bag that you can throw some stuff in. It should be comfortable and something you’re not embarrassed to carry around!
(A lot of moms will probably just want to use their normal purse if they have one.)
With all of that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some really good options in different price ranges you can check out.
Best Budget Pick for Moms: Portable Changing Pad Diaper Clutch
Overview: This one is really cool and takes full advantage of the fact that you won’t need as much stuff for your toddler bag as you did in your baby bag!
Designed to look pretty much exactly like a woman’s clutch, this diaper bag packs more than meets the eye. It rolls out to feature a changing pad, but also somehow crams in enough storage for some wipes, a diaper or two, and even a change of clothes.
Why I Like It: This diaper clutch looks like it was designed for short trips out with baby. That actually makes it a perfect choice for a toddler.
Usually with an older child who’s potty-trained, you won’t need a dozen diapers and a huge tub of cream. Just one or two in case of emergency and a few other small items.
I was really surprised to see how much this small bag can actually fit. You should have room for a small pack of wipes, a spare diaper, and an extra outfit in case of accidents.
All that, plus it rolls out into a changing pad in case of potty emergencies!
It’s small, stylish, and really well-priced. A great fit for any mom who doesn’t want to replace her normal purse but could use a bag specifically suited to traveling with a toddler.
Potential Drawbacks: This clutch is pretty small. It’s great for a toddler or for quick trips, but if you’re hoping for something with more storage, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.
Some user reviews mention trouble with the buckle and clasp.
Best High-End Pick for Moms: Baby Sense Melaine Mom & Baby Diaper Bag
Overview: If you need something with a little more space, but don’t want to lug around one of those giant bags that’s CLEARLY a diaper bag, you might dig this purse-style bag from Baby Sense.
It’s a full-sized and full-featured diaper bag that works great for newborns, but it’s fashionable enough and functional enough to grow up with you and your baby into the toddler years.
It looks like a real purse!
Only, inside, you’ll find all the usual trapping like organizer compartments, a changing bag, a bottle holder, and more.
Why I Like It: I just love the look of this bag. It definitely doesn’t scream “diaper bag” and, if you’re happy with the size of it, you’ll probably be glad to take this out with you even without the kids.
It’s packed full of useful features, too, like 7 different inner compartments for storing and organizing the kids’ (and your) stuff, 2 outer pockets, and an insulated bottle holder.
It’s a little bit pricey, but it has the look, feel, and quality of a real high-end bag.
It’d be great for taking a toddler on an airplane or out for a long day at the mall.
Potential Drawbacks: This bag is pretty big, and a few user reviews mentioned that it ended up just being too bulky for them.
If you want the space to carry around your stuff, the kids’ stuff, plus some extra toys, games, and whatnots, this will be a fantastic bag. If you want to take advantage of your child’s age and carry something a little more minimalistic, check out the clutch I recommended above!
Best Budget Pick for Dads: Diaper Dude Cross Body Messenger Bag
Overview: I owned a Diaper Dude backpack diaper bag for a long time and loved it, so I was really pleased to find out that the same company has come out with a messenger bag-style tote for shorter excursions and toddlers!
The messenger bag comes in two colors (black and brown/pink) and slings over your shoudler for an easy carry.
It’s small, but fully-featured on the inside. It has a separate changing paid, 3 different exterior zip-closed pockets, a stroller strap, a bottle pocket, and inner compartments for organization.
Why I Like It: Let’s face it, I know toddlers don’t need much, but they need a little bit more than us dads can reasonably fit into just our pockets.
(Though I’m sure a few of us have tried).
When we’re out on our own with the kiddo, we’ll have to have some kind of bag with us, and this messenger style diaper bag from Diaper Dude really fits the bill.
It’s small enough that it won’t be a burden (and again, it doesn’t scream DAD IN THE HOUSE), but has plenty of room inside and functionality. It’s great for shorter trips out with baby and can pack everything you could need for a toddler.
I know the brand, Diaper Dude, and they make great stuff that’s comfortable and easy to use.
Potential Drawbacks: A few reviews online have complained about the size, noting this bag is too small for their needs.
You could see that as a drawback, but that’s actually why I picked this as a perfect toddler bag.
If you’re hoping to carry around a ton of stuff for an all-day trip with a baby, this one will come up short. But for one or two diapers, some wipes, and a few snacks, this is a perfect fit.
Best High-End Pick for Dads: HSD Diaper Bag Tactical Backpack
Overview: For something a little bigger, a little roomier, and a hell of a lot sturdier, check out this awesome tactical bag from HSD.
This beast looks like a military backpack you might find on an Army recruit, but inside, it’s all kids
It’s got tons of compartments, a wipe holder, a changing pad, stroller straps, contoured shoulder straps, bottle holders, and more.
Why I Like It: Ah man, I’m a sucker for this tactical stuff.
It’s just so… COOL. And MANLY.
I know, I know, maybe it’s cliche, but if moms are allowed to shop for a stylish diaper bag that looks like a purse, I don’t see why dads can’t have something that looks tough and rugged.
(And, in fact, it is. This thing is super well-made and durable.)
Reviewers rave about how easy this bag is to use and how well it holds up to years of abuse.
It’s a perfect, roomy fit, especially for dads out with the kids on their own for long stretches of time.
It’s got everything you’d need for a newborn diaper bag, but the aesthetic will hold up well past that and into the toddler years.
Potential Drawbacks: This bag is on the expensive side. It also might be considered overkill if you’re going to use it as a diaper bag for a single toddler.
But the great thing is, it doubles as a normal backpack and will give you plenty of room to carry toys, games, snacks, and other things you might need for longer days out or traveling.
You have a lot of flexibility when buying a toddler bag.
You can get something small and stripped down, or big and roomy. The biggest thing to look for is something that’s comfortable to wear and suits your own personal styles.
Yes, features matter, but with a toddler, you’ll be using the changing pad, bottle holder, and other compartments far less than you did during the baby years.
Hope this helps, parents!