So you’re done with your maternity leave and you’re about to head back to work. Your life is currently a complicated shuffle between your office, where you’re expected to look as professional as ever, and doing baby-related things, which somehow involves carrying around a ton of diapers, a changing pad, bottles, toys, and snacks. This will be your life for at least the next four years.
As a kind of metaphor of what it is like moving between these two worlds, you have two bags, one for work and one for the rest of your life. If you want to take your baby to the park after work, for instance, you need to rush home to drop your work bag off and pick up your diaper bag. And god forbid you accidentally leave your pacifier in your work bag and your baby starts to freak out.
Accessories startups have been thinking about this problem that plagues new moms. Many brands have been specifically working on creating bags that allow women to move easily from professional life into family life, by creating work bags that double as diaper bags.
As a mother of a 2-year-old, I have spent a lot of time moving my things from one bag to another. I spent the last few weeks testing work bags that double as diaper bags. The ideal bag needs to be both beautiful and functional. Here are the best ones I’ve found.
Structured Backpack That Converts Into A Satchel
You might know the brand Freshly Picked for its beautiful leather moccasins for babies and toddlers. The brand tapped into its large audience of moms across the U.S. to identify what kind of diaper bag they were looking for. Freshly Picked’s product designers spent months developing the ideal bag with advice from real moms doing the work bag/diaper bag shuffle.
The diaper bag ($175) that they came up with is a backpack that easily converts into a satchel or a cross-body. This is very useful because it means moms can have their hands free to attend to their kids, but the bag can also look more formal in a professional context. The bag is made from vegan leather that is wipeable and spill resistant both inside and out. It even comes with a nylon changing pad.
I liked this bag because it manages to look polished even when it is packed with everything I need to get through the day at work (laptop, wallet, keys) as well as baby essentials. Because it is always so full, it tends to be very heavy, so the backpack function is ideal to distribute the weight. But there are times when you’re wearing a suit and a backpack just doesn’t look right, so the satchel function comes in handy. Perhaps one of the best parts of the bag is that it is utterly resistant to dirt. My daughter decided to dig inside the bag after a particularly messy attempt to eat yogurt by herself, and I was able to wipe everything off in a matter of minutes so it looked perfect.
Keep Your Laptop Dry And Milk Bottle Warm
Dagne Dover’s Allyn tote ($345) is perfectly suited for both work and baby time. It contains a neoprene sleeve to protect your laptop, and another neoprene bottle holder that keeps your drinks hot or cold. These features are valuable because your laptop stays safe from spills, while also ensuring that your milk bottle stays warm when you’re out.
The bag is made from luxurious leather that looks professional. It is also able to expand and contract based on how much stuff you put in it. There is an adjustable snap fastener that allows you to shrink the bag, but if you remove the snaps altogether, it allows you to stuff it full of teddy bears and extra swaddles.
This is a classic bag that you’ll want to keep for years. When you no longer need to carry your baby’s kit and caboodle with you, you can keep using it for work.
If You Love To Compartmentalize
If you’re a mom that cares about staying organized, Leatherology’s Downtown Zippered Diaper Bag ($210) is for you. It’s a practical tote bag with a wide base. On the surface it looks like any other tote bag you might have in your closet, complete with a side pocket perfectly sized for your laptop. But it also comes with a removable nylon insert that helps you organize everything. Because this insert is custom-made for this bag, it stays securely in place.
This organizer really helps you feel like you are on top of everything. Instead of stuffing the bag with diapers, wipes, and folders for work, you can separate things into different sections. When you look down into the bag, you can see where everything is at one glance, which saves you from digging around for that teether. And because it is made from nylon, it cleans out easily. My daughter’s juice pack leaked, which would have been a disaster. But in this case, the sticky juice just stayed in one compartment, and I was able to clean it easily.
The nice thing about this bag is that when you don’t need to use it as a diaper bag, you can just take out the nylon insert and it turns back into a beautiful, full-grain leather bag. (I found the compartments so useful that I could see myself leaving them in to help me stay organized.) The bag comes in a wide range of colors and can be monogrammed.
When You Don’t Want To Give Up Your Designer Bag
If you’re used to carrying luxury bags, it can feel like a bummer to trade in your Celine or Louis Vuitton bag for something more practical. While many big luxury brands sell diaper bags, they aren’t generally equipped with practical features and often aren’t good value for money, given that your baby is likely to puke into the suede lining of the bag at some point.
Enter Senreve. The brand creates high-end leather bags in the same Italian factories as many of their luxury brand counterparts. But because the brand sells its products online, all the bags cost less than $1,000. The brand’s founders are also obsessed with making sure their bags are not just well-made and elegant, but also practical.
The Doctor’s Bag ($895), for instance, is the ideal bag for work and going out with your baby. It’s a spacious pebbled leather bag that has a water- and scratch- resistant exterior and a stain-resistant microsuede interior. It also has a lovely structured shape that stands out and looks perfect in a work environment. The company also sells a caddy ($195) that is made of the same micro-suede, and helps keep the interior organized.
While the bag is slimmer and more compact than some of the other bags on this list, it was able to hold a lot. I was able to fit my laptop in the side sleeve, while also carrying diapers, a changing pad, milk bottles and a couple of toys. It was more than sufficient to get me through the day, and the smaller size forced me to me more conscious about what I was packing, so the bag didn’t just become a catch-all for the detritus of toddler life. It’s the ideal bag for the woman who still wants her Italian craftsmanship, but also wants a separate compartment for pacifiers.