Haven’t you heard? Changing bags are cool these days. New, modern "mum" brands have emerged and their stylish offerings make pounding the payments with a pram a joy.

This new competition also means the original baby bag players are upping their game with fresh ideas and celebrity collaborations (hello Paloma Faith x Cosatto) intent on overhauling their reputation as frumpy or covered in cupcakes. Now it’s all about leopard print…

As fashion items in their own right, they’re now used well after babies are out of nappies as gym, travel and general day bags – particularly the rucksacks which we regularly spot on our work commute.

But they’re still as practical as ever with clever features including detachable mini bags for food storage or other belongings, changing mats and lots and lots of pockets.

Every bag on our list has been tested for comfort, style and functionality to bring you our roundup of the very best.

From luxury designer buys to everyday basics, and fun designs to a more formal look, these are the best for every budget.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent. 

Tiba + Marl Elwood backpack in black: £140, Tiba + Marl

This was one of the first and most popular baby changing rucksacks. Tiba + Marl was created by friends Ann, a former bag buyer for Urban Outfitters, and Lydia, formerly a footwear and accessories designer for Kurt Geiger and Sigerson Morrison. The design of their bestselling Elwood bag is stylish, while its faux leather is realistic and the finishing touches – no cheap zips – make it look like a luxury buy. It’s wipe clean and water resistant all over and has two good-sized pockets inside for nappies and wipes.

The removable clutch bag is handy for nappy changes – you can also wear it across body to keep purse, phone and keys to hand – and there’s an insulated bottle holder in one of the two front pockets. It comes with a padded changing mat and a new addition – D rings to attach it to your buggy. Our male testers raved about the unisex appeal and ease of use.

The same, handy, hands-free shape is available in several other colours and fabrics including metallic silver and a camouflage print. Our favourite is the black because it looks so luxe and is the most practical – it works with everything and is the least likely to show up marks. This bag is a pleasure to use and nothing like the historic undesirable changing bag at all.

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Jem + Bea Margot bag in black: £295, Jem + Bea

This brand's bags look like really nice handbags. In fact, our testers received countless admiring “new bag?” comments with and without little people in tow. Made from a soft, buttery leather, they’re stylish, great quality and super popular at the moment (between them and Tiba + Marl, Instagram has been overtaken by “cool changing bags”). The Margot is one of their classics and arguably the most stylish of them all with its sleek minimal look. It’s spacious, has lots of pockets, a padded changing mat, insulated bottle holder and detachable leather clutch.

It can be used as a shoulder bag – it comes with a long detachable strap – and the interior is all water repellent and wipe clean. Buggy straps are bought separately but hooking the long strap over the pram handle worked just as well for us. Personalised monogramming is available at an extra cost of £21.

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Skip Hop Greenwich convertible backpack: £99, John Lewis & Partners

Made of expensive-looking wipe-clean vegan leather, the new convertible backpack from Skip Hop offers a clean, practical, luxurious look. With a grand total of nine pockets it’s large, easy to keep organised and comes with a padded changing mat.

The main selling point though is that it easily converts from a backpack to a cross-body bag so you can wear however best fits your life – whether you have a new-born or toddler. Buggy straps are attached too. This is one of the most versatile bags we tested and wouldn’t look out of place as a work handbag after nursery drops making it great value for money.

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Storksak Stevie Luxe scuba changing bag in black: £110, Storksak

British brand Storksak is one of the biggest names in changing bags but have had to bring their brand up-to-date with the influx of young, modern labels nipping at their heels. The Stevie is part of the new Luxe collection of sleek, modern, unisex city styles.

It’s made of a durable water-resistant scuba fabric which feels lovely and soft to carry with leather trim and rose gold fastenings. It has an effortlessly cool feel but is still as brilliantly functional as all Storksak bags are. Complete with a padded changing mat, detachable straps, lots of pockets – inside and outside – and a detachable insulated food and bottle bag.

It’s an easy to use, trusted, high quality product, but the Tiba + Marl just beats it in the fashion stakes…

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Josefina bag large in black: £300, Josefina

Considering the price, there’s no doubt that this is a luxury buy, but if you’re looking to splash out on a timeless bag to last, the quality and craftsmanship from Spanish brand Josefina is beautiful. It’s ideal for a new baby or if you have more than one child as it’s large with lots of pockets around the sides, but you can remove the interior and use it as a weekend or gym bag too. The 100 per cent cowhide exterior only looks better with age. The shoulder strap is comfortable to wear and can be cleverly converted to a buggy clip strap using poppers.

Our only issue is that the inside of all of the pockets, as luxurious as it feels, is made of polyester felt so isn’t waterproof or wipe clean – beware of spillages as they may take time to dry out! It also doesn’t come with a changing mat or insulated bottle holder. Still, the whole bag (and brand) oozes style and quality and is also available in ruby, tan, grey and a monochrome print. If you really want to treat yourself, there’s a monogramming option available for an extra £96 and UK shipping is free.

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Pacapod Saunton in pewter, £84, John Lewis & Partners

Pacapod changing bags can be as expensive as designer labels but also quite bulky and fiddly – by the time you get all the pouches in and a few extra bits, you can barely close the zips. However, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the new Saunton style which feels sleeker and more modern but still has all the extras that make you feel super organised. It can be used as a backpack, messenger style or over your shoulder and feels comfortable in each position.

It’s made from a luxe-look faux leather and comes with pram straps, changing mat and two extra “pods” which are mini bags – a changing one and a feeding one. There is also an extra mini pod for dummies. The bag itself has pockets in the lining and two convenient slit pockets at the front. The pods can be removed and used alone too, which makes it easy to clean. This is without a doubt the most organised baby bag we’ve reviewed.

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Liewood Melvin mummy bag in Leo print, £114.90, Scandiborn

We adore this stylish, practical, extra-large bag mainly because it’s so roomy. It could double up as a family travel or beach bag, and it’s perfect if you have more than one child too. The bag also features pockets all the way around the outside as well as inside and a soft foldable changing mat. Both long and short straps mean it can be carried over the shoulder or held at your side and it also includes (matching leopard print) buggy clips.

It’s made from organic cotton canvas and though not waterproof or resistant it can be popped in the washing machine. A brilliant bag but note that none of the pockets are insulated so best to buy separate bottle and food pouches. It’s also available in rose, rust, grey and a striped print.

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Babymel Luna ultra-lite backpack in black, £65, Babymel

Part of the freshly launched ultra-lite collection this is the lightest bag we’ve tested and the padded straps offer an extra comfort factor. Compact and functional it has front, side and inner pockets and comes with a changing mat and insulated bottle holder.  It’s perfect for active on-the-go families.

One feature we particularly loved was the clever integrated stroller straps – as we know some struggle with hooking backpacks off a buggy. It feels modern, cool and a bit sporty, so would make a great gym bag too. It’s brilliant value for money but the Tiba + Marl just takes the crown as its larger size and leather look give it a slightly more premium feel. Overall though, a great buy on a budget.

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Cosatto hear us roar changing bag, £79.96, Cosatto​

How could we not include Cosatto’s new leopard print hatbox style changing bag designed with Paloma Faith? It’s probably not to everyone’s taste but it definitely is ground-breaking in the changing bag world.

The leopard print plus the style are sure to garner attention – in the best possible way. But it’s actually pretty functional too. More spacious inside than you’d think it has a zip pocket, phone pocket and insulated bottle pocket inside and comes with a changing mat (also leopard print) and detectable shoulder strap. A brilliant gift for a leopard print loving mum-to-be.

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Kerikit Amber antique rose leather changing bag: £295, Kerikit

This is the most luxurious of the backpacks we’ve reviewed, the brand new Kerikit Amber is so expensive because it’s real, high quality leather. Never mind being a fully functional, spacious baby changing bag, it’s a stunning bag that we’d love with or without baby in tow. It has everything required for a little one – pockets aplenty, inside and out including a secret pocket hidden from sight when worn on your back.

It comes with a separate, washable and waterproof lined pouch and a padded changing mat and the inner part of the bag is all waterproof and wipe clean. Buggy clips are an added extra but, as with most rucksacks, simply looping the backpack straps over the bars of the pram worked for our tester. The beautiful rose leather, which we think will only improve with age, can be embossed for an extra cost, starting at £21. This is definitely a bag you’ll keep using once the baby outgrows nappies! Also available in navy, black, grey and coffee leather.

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The verdict: Baby changing bags

You can’t beat the Tiba + Marl Elwood for hands-free use; once you’ve tried a rucksack they become an essential and make life much easier – especially if you do have more than one child to look after. For first-time mums after an easy to use, spacious tote, Jem + Bea’s Margot is a good timeless option. But all of the above we suspect you’ll use long after baby enters the toddler years.

For more baby and kids' fashion check out Charlotte’s curated edit, The Little Stylist

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.