27/04/2011 09:57 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Changing Bags

Go back a decade or so and changing bags largely came in one variety and it was boring black. Today's parents are spoilt for choice compared, with tens of baby bags out there from glam designer numbers to cool dad satchels.

But do you really need one?

A proper changing bag isn't essential but can be very useful because they're purpose-designed to keep baby kit organised and close to hand.

Features including bottle pockets to keep drinks upright, 'wet bags' for soiled clothing, fold-up changing mats and the like do make life a bit easier when you're out and about.,feedConfig,localizationConfig,entry&id=919142&pid=919141&uts=1281087190

Changing bags

Fabric which is either washable or can be wiped down in case of spillages.

Enough room to carry a few nappies, a spare babygro, snacks for older babies, drinks (bottle or toddler cup), wipes and possibly a toy. Not to mention anything you need such as your keys and purse.Useful accessories such as a compact changing mat and wet bag.

Sufficient pockets and sections to separate feeding and nappy changing gear, keep drinks or bottles upright and help you find things easily.

A hands-free carrying option – you'll need them to hold your baby at least some of the time so only buy a bag if it can be firmly slung over your shoulder or worn backpack style. Some can be clipped onto the back of your pushchair which is handy.

Nice thick straps to prevent digging into your shoulders if the bag gets heavy.

Something you'll be happy to carry around pretty much every day for quite a long time - you might well need a changing bag for a couple of years (although many parents switch to a normal bag somewhere down the line). Also consider your partner – if he'll be on dad duty a lot, you might want a fairly unisex design which doesn't look too handbag-like.

Changing bags

Ju-Ju-Be BeAll, £81,

An impressively well-designed bag with tons of features to make life with a baby and all their associated 'stuff' easier. Mesh pockets keep items separate whilst allowing you to see what's where. It's machine washable and stain-proof and even has clever little 'crumb drains' so you can clean out all those annoying bits of goodness knows what that end up at the bottom of your bag without emptying the whole thing. There's also a super-soft memory foam changing mat, and a memory foam pad on the shoulder strap for comfortable carrying.

Good for: Being incredibly practical.

Not so good for: Not quite cutting it in the style stakes with the designer yummy mummy brigade. Some of the fabric choices are a little garish.

Changing bags

Babymel Sammie, £35,

Gorgeous Moroccan print fabric make this one to go for if you want a bag to be proud of, but at a reasonable price. It can be clipped onto a pushchair or pram, has several pockets including two insulated ones for bottles and comes with a changing mat included.

Good for: Proving that style doesn't always come with a hefty price tag.

Not so good for: Dads who might not be so keen on the fabric print.

Alternatively: Sign up to the Boots Parenting Club and you get a small but adequate changing bag for free.

Changing bags

Lin and Leo, £139,

A sumptuous leather bag which comes in a choice of colours including a gorgeous turquoise or more neutral chocolate brown, with contrasting print linings. It might look gorgeous but it's not a case of style over substance – practicalities include large internal pockets, a changing mat and bottle holders.

Good for: The fact you'll probably want to go on using it as a handbag long after the baby days are over.

Not so good for: The price, but it's a high quality bag which should last ages.

Changing bags

Skip-Hop Duo Deluxe, £76.75,

Whether you're expecting twins or have close-in-age siblings, two little people in your life rather than one means quite a large amount of gear to cart around with you. This extra-roomy changing bag has been designed with parents of twins in mind and even fits on the back of side-by-side double buggies.

Good for: Loads of space.

Not so good for: Might be a little too big for some tastes.

Changing bags

Lassig Messenger Bag, £69.99,

There are burgeoning numbers of dad-friendly changing bags around but the problem is that if you each have one, you'll be forever swapping at least some of the contents between them, or finding you've left that essential item in the other bag. This clever messenger bag solves the problem with its easily interchangeable flaps – you get two included in the price so can pick one for him and one for you.

Good for:Being two bags in one.

Not so good for: The courier style design is not the choicest around.

Changing bags

More best buy guides on Parentdish: Top 10 best travel gear for babies and toddlers.