As one of the first of my friends to have a baby, and to embark on the massive shopping spree that a first child seems to warrant, I remember waddling around department stores clutching torn-out lists of 'essentials' from baby magazines, hoping that somehow the right choice of buggy, muslins and moses basket would insure us against colic, sleepless nights and general disaster. The leap into the unknown was so impossible to imagine, I found myself lying awake at night worrying about the right sort of bottles to get (Would I need bottles? Would I be able to breastfeed? What about if I was going to have a night out?), whether to swaddle or use sleeping bags, and stopping strangers to ask about their choice of pram. It was as if the safe delivery of my unborn child and it's future happiness were entirely dependent on acquiring the perfect combination of equipment. Symbolic of the new life I was going to lead, apparently destined never to leave the house again with just a clutch purse and a travel card, the choice of baby changing bag became of epic importance to my poor addled brain.
Which is funny really, because I have no idea how I then settled on possibly the ugliest, bulkiest, most useless bag in all the baby stores in all of London. In black and beige (beige for gawdsakes? Why?) I hoped it would be the perfect gender-neutral multi-tasker that both my husband and I could happily carry without feeling compromised in the style stakes. It cost a fortune, weighed a ton, and was so ugly (did I mention the beige?) that I resented it pretty much every time I left the house with it forever after. By the time I had my second child I had perfected the art of carrying everything in a big old heap under the pushchair, obviating the need for a changing bag, but reducing the manoeuvrability and fold-ability of the pushchair tenfold. I passed the bag on to a grateful friend and rejoiced.
I wish, oh how I wish, that Tiba + Marl had been designing their super cool backpacks then.
Extremely stylish, with insulated sections for bottles, bag clips, wet pouches and enough pockets to please the most demanding of hoarders, these bags are so great you'll want to use them even when you don't have your baby with you. Added to which a rucksack is, by far, the most practical bag to use when pushing a pushchair as it keeps your hands free and reduces the chance of pushchair-topple, when you've overloaded the back of the pram.
If you are more of a big-bag kinda family then a Tiba + Marl Raf Holdall will help you lug all your changes of baby clothes, bottles, nappies and toys in style and will make an excellent overnight bag or gym bag once you are ready for the outside world again. In quilted black nylon or leopard print, the details and quality of these bags is amazing. With chunky metal zips and faux leather details, they are seriously stylish, grown-up baby bags.
For the minimalist mama, a Tiba + Marl changing pouch is the perfect lightweight solution: a fold-out changing mat, with enough space for a couple of spare nappies, some wipes and a tube of cream. Available in Black, Leopard Print and Floral, the soft fleece changing mat is attached with hidden magnets and is machine washable. With a wrist-strap that means these pouches can be hung from a pushchair or tucked into a handbag, you are ready to go. And not a hint of beige in sight.
I can't promise you won't overfill these bags with nappies, clothes, drinks and snacks, and I can't promise that the right baby bag will help you navigate your way safely through the early years of parenting. I can, however, guarantee that you'll have the hippest changing bag in town, and that's a good start, eh?