Just before Andrew was born we got the Boots freebie changing bag that you get if you sign up for their parenting club and buy some nappies. It served us well for quite a while, but was beginning to fall apart in pregnancy with Joel. So Tom joined the parenting club too, and we got another free bag. But in the time since we got our first one, they’ve made the bag smaller, so it no longer fits all the paraphernalia that I have to take out with me for two children. I decided to wait a while before I did anything about this, and just got by using an extra bag, because I wanted to check that it really was worth spending the money rather than relying on extra bags. I can say now that it definitely is worth it! Also, until now I’ve had a separate handbag with my purse, keys, phone etc. in, but with 3 or 4 bags to remember and carry, it’s been a bit much, so I’d like just one to fit everything in.
So, one weekend I spent ages scouring the internet whilst feeding Joel. It quickly became clear that there were generally two ends in the market with little in between – cheap changing bags similar to our first one, or more expensive bags that looked more like hand bags but could fit lots of baby stuff in. I decided that as this was going to be my hand bag as well, I’d rather go for one that looked more stylish than a simple satchel design in a plain colour and was also good quality to last us through constant use.
In my search, I came across the lovely website of Pink Lining, a British company that started from a lady called Charlotte hand stitching hand bags in her London flat, then moved onto fashionable baby changing bags handmade with a sewing machine, and grew into a market leading brand in the UK as well as gaining much recognition internationally. I couldn’t resist the look of the bags, they were unlike any other that I had come across in my lengthy search. Not only did they look practical, but also had a unique style, made with colourful, pretty fabrics and a shape that shouted ‘hand bag’ at me rather than ‘changing bag’. I’d also heard good things about them from a few friends who have one.
Pink Lining make various designs of bag which you can see here. After much thought I decided that I most liked the Blooming Gorgeous design, in the Blue Bouquet fabric. Very kindly, Pink Lining offered me a discount in exchange for my views on how the bag performs for us. So here’s my review…..
This is the most important feature for us given that our previous bag was too small! There is certainly no shortage of space in the bag; I can fit all the things I need to, both for the boys and for me (see the next section for more details).
The dimensions are: 38(L) x 25.5(H) x 19(W) cm; this seems to be around the standard for most satchel style changing bags from my online search, and Pink Lining point out that the Blooming Gorgeous bag is slightly wider than their other similar in style bags. The generous width is noticeable, because even when the side pockets are stuffed with things, there is still a decent space in the middle to fit bigger things like a change of clothes for both boys, and the fact that the bottom is stiff means that it holds its shape so you can see just how much space you have to stuff things into.
Access to bag contents
What I like even more about the space in the bag is it’s not just one big space – there are several handy pockets and things, which keep our stuff organised. I find this really important, because without it I would almost certainly fail to find the thing I need at the right time and end up with some very stressful change times, feed times, toddler entertainment times or unlocking the front door times!
Outside on the bag: there is a large canvas pocket, which fits various bits like a foldaway shopping bag and my hairbrush; and two side pockets in body fabric, one of which fits two drinks bottles (one for me and one for Andrew), and the other fits our foldaway fabric chair harness for eating out.
Inside the bag: there are two insulated bottle holders, which fit our SNSs nice and snugly so they won’t fall out into the bag; two nappy pockets, which fit cloth and disposable nappies for a toddler and a baby; pen holder, key clip on elastic, phone pocket (big enough for my iPhone) and small zip pocket, all of which help to keep my personal stuff in an easily reachable place; a padded changing mat, which looks more comfortable to lie on than our previous non-padded foldaway mats; and a zipped wet bag, which holds one cloth nappy or 2 disposables.
Ease of carrying (on me/buggy)
The bag has two options for carrying: a detachable, adjustable shoulder strap that is long enough to fit over any pram/buggy handle bars, and fixed handles for carrying in your hand or over your shoulder. I usually put the bag in the basket under the buggy, where it fits nicely, because with our old iCandy buggythe warranty was invalid if you hung anything from the bar, so we didn’t, and even though Bugaboo isn’t so strict on this, I’ve just stayed in old habits. But it’s handy that I can hang the bag if I need the basket for shopping. I did toy with the idea of getting a rucksack changing bag, but as I’m carrying Joel in the sling everywhere, I decided I’d rather carry the weight on the buggy than directly on my body.
For when I am carrying the bag on me, like when we’re at a group and we go to change a nappy or two, I like the length of the fixed straps – they are long enough to carry on my shoulder and short enough that I can carry in my hand and not scrape it along the floor. It’s handy to have both options, as well as the adjustable shoulder strap.
Looks and style
I came across very few changing bags that were made of such pretty fabrics – most were plain colours like black, red, blue or pink. In fact all Pink Lining’s fabrics are their own unique design, and I went for the Blue Bouquet colour scheme because I like the floral design. I love the fact that the bag looks so feminine and stylish (for anyone who’s wondering, Tom now has his own changing bag for when he goes out with Andrew alone – the freebie black one!) As my job is to be a mummy, it makes me feel fashionable in this role, just like I might have a funky bag for going to an office job.
Of course I can’t forget the bright pink lining, which naturally features in all the bags that Pink Lining make. Pink is one of my favourite colours, so it’s very me. But I think it’s great that the outside of the bag (and other colour schemes that Pink Lining make them in) isn’t pink, as I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
As well as looking good, it’s important for me to be practical, so I was pleased to see that the outer fabric is a cotton/nylon blend coated in PEVA laminate (an environmentally friendly, food-safe vinyl that is made without chlorine or plasticisers). This makes it easy to wipe clean when it inevitably comes into contact with all sorts of mucky stuff – I have two boys after all, one of which already loves muddy trips to the park. Pink Lining do warn though that wiping clean with a damp cloth and some mild detergent will not eliminate all stains that may occur – of course that’s also inevitable, and I would expect a changing bag to get that ‘well used and loved’ look over time.
What I particularly like about this fabric is that it has a matt rather than gloss finish. From a distance you can’t tell it’s laminated, it just looks like untreated cotton fabric. Other wipe-clean changing bags I’ve seen are made of oil-skin fabric, which looks highly glossy, and I found this less appealing.
The lining is 100% nylon, like other changing bags, and is practical and functional (as well as being a lovely colour!)
The higher quality of this bag compared to our previous free ones is very noticeable. The fabrics themselves look durable (of course I won’t know for sure until I’ve used it for a while, but first impressions are positive), and the fastenings and sewing are well executed. I particularly think that the appliqué flowers and ‘Blooming Gorgeous’ writing sewn onto the front pocket give it a high quality look and feel when you get close up. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into making this bag.
With changing bags it seems to be a case of you get what you pay for, so this bag is at the more expensive end of the market at £79 (from www.pinklining.co.uk). This would not be within our normal budget, but we were very generously given quite a bit of money from various people when Joel was born, which they asked us to spend on something we needed for the baby, as they didn’t know what he needed given that he has an older brother to pass things down to him – and they’re right, he has everything! So I saw the changing bag as a practical thing that was worth spending this money on. I did end up getting a generous discount from Pink Lining in exchange for this review, but I was willing to spend the money anyway as I think it’s worth it, if you have the money.
If you’re looking for a high quality changing bag that is both fashionable like a hand bag and practical in size and shape, I definitely recommend this bag. If people ask you what you or baby need because they’d like to give you a useful gift, this would be a great idea, or vouchers for a shop that sells them (e.g. John Lewis).
Disclaimer: I was given a 50% discount off the cost of the bag, but all views expressed are my honest opinions based on my own experience of using the bag.