Diaper changes are unavoidable for new parents, but you do have some choices in where and how you change those unpleasant diaper messes. There are many styles of diaper changing tables available, and you can customize your diaper changing area for your convenience with baby changing station accessories. Some parents skip the traditional diaper changing table altogether and design a baby changing system that works best for their home. Here's how to choose the best baby changing table for your needs.
Choose a Sturdy Changing TableBefore buying any diaper changing table, look carefully at the construction and shake it to see if it's wobbly, uneven or otherwise unsafe for baby. If the changing table seems rickety in the store, it likely won't get any better once you get it home and put a wiggly baby on top of it. Also, if there's a rail to help keep baby on the changing table, be sure it's securely attached. Antiques stores can be a great source of beautiful changing tables that still have lots of life in them. Just be sure there are no exposed nails or other structural problems before using an antique changing table.
Check the Changing Table Height and WidthDiaper changing tables come in many shapes and sizes. If your nursery is short on space, you may want to look at combination changing tables and dressers, often called high-low dressers, that offer space for clothing storage and diaper changes in one convenient piece of furniture. Check the height of the changing table and be sure that it is easy for both parents to reach the diaper changing surface without stretching or stooping.
Space for Diapers and Changing SuppliesConsider all of the diaper changing items you want to have on hand at your baby changing table. Diapers, wipes, lotions, washcloths, extra clothing, nail trimming supplies and baby thermometers are common changing table items. Are there places to store these items on the changing table you like? If not, are there places to stash baskets or containers with those supplies in or near the changing table? You'll need to have diapering supplies close to the changing table so you don't have to leave baby unattended to gather diapers and wipes from across the room.
Alternative Diaper Changing TablesIf you're short on space or just don't want to budget the money for a separate changing table, you can easily put a diaper changing station on top of a low dresser or other nursery surface. Again, antiques stores can be a great source for beautiful nursery dressers that can be used as changing tables. Most baby products stores carry changing table pads that sit on top of the dresser to create a comfortable changing station. Add a basket on top for supplies or stock a dresser drawer with diapers and wipes to complete your diaper changing area.
Go Without a Changing Table?Though it's tempting to buy a complete nursery setup for your baby, you can safely cut the changing table out of your nursery budget. Many families, including mine, have gone without a changing table altogether. Our solution for our small apartment nursery was to stock a basket with diapering supplies and a small, waterproof changing pad. We moved the basket around the apartment for a portable, cheap and convenient diaper changing area.
Older Changing Tables are Often Safe for Re-UseUnlike cribs and car seats, diaper changing tables haven't changed much in the past few decades, so don't be afraid to look at used tables or use hand-me-downs in this area. As long as there's a safe area for baby to lay down for diaper changes, and you don't leave the baby unattended, it shouldn't matter whether you buy the top-of-the-line new changing table or use the dresser top from your own childhood nursery.