Dressing vs. Changing

Why Dressers Trump Changing Tables
changing-table-vs-dresser-0

  • What: Dresser instead of a changing table
  • Why: Better storage, easier access, less mess
  • Where: Amazon or online

I have a vendetta against changing tables. I used one for many years with several different families and inevitably, the stuff didn’t stay organized and the kids pulled it out to play with constantly.

changing-table-vs-dresser-1

An open invitation to any mobile baby to dump every bin and hang from that handy slide-out mini shelf

You’d think having everything in sight would mean it’s easier to find things. In fact, it turns out to be the opposite. With the open shelving in a traditional changing table, you either attempt nice stable stacks of useful items or organize everything into bins. Some things, like disposable diapers, stack nicely and play well with others. Some things, like blankets, do okay, but as soon as you take one out of the stack, the others come toppling down as well. When you have a wiggling infant on an elevated surface, the collapsed stack of blankets half hanging off a shelf rates low on the priority scale. And somehow, getting time to recreate the stack never happens. Clothes never stack nicely, but if you put them somewhere else, then you reach further to grab them when you inevitably need the sixth wardrobe change of the day.

Bring in the bins. Picking colors and patterns and sorting things seems so satisfying – because it is. But it turns out a bin is a glorified drawer, only with bins, you pull it out so you can see what’s in it with one hand, and you reach down to grab what you need with the other hand. Unless you were born with an extra hand, that leaves zero hands on the actual baby. With a drawer, you can pull it out with one hand, and once it opens, it stays open. A bin often falls over or off if not supported once it’s teetering on the edge. For the drawer scenario, you use the same hand to retrieve the desired object while the drawer stays open with no assistance from you. Then you use whatever body part works (hand, bum, knee, elbow) to give the drawer a shove to close it.

As an added bonus, things in drawers are out of sight, out of mind. That means no crawling babies constantly heading in that direction to topple a stack of anything just for the joy of crashing. While that stage does end, the frustration of a messy unorganized changing table lasts much longer, as does the will to stack things on a daily basis.

Changing tables generally weigh less than dressers and sometimes (depending on where you shop) cost less too, so there’s that advantage. But I’ve never seen a good use for a changing table after your child grows out of diapers. Dressers, obviously, last much longer. Even without diapers, they still wear clothes – ones hidden out of sight behind drawers, so even if they are messy, no one, including you, notices.

Add a changing pad on top of almost any dresser and you’ve got an instant changing table. As an added bonus, dressers come in more varieties than changing tables, too. I’ve never seen a changing table with anything but two shelves. Dressers usually come with a minimum of three drawers and some boast many more. Dressers also vary a lot more in the height of the changing surface, so if you aren’t average height, dressers provide more options for getting an ergonomically friendly changing surface, whether you measure taller or shorter than the average. On the downside, when shopping, online in particular, you have to pay much closer attention to the listed dimensions.

They also make dressers with a removable changing surface, so once you’re done with diapers, you remove the top and it looks like a regular dresser.

I got my first three-drawer dresser online from JCPenney and six years later, we still use it for kid number three. We upgraded to a six-drawer version from Amazon when the third kid came along. Looking back, I’d order a longer width for my first three drawer version. It fit a changing pad no problem, and I had the wipes on a shelf above the dresser, but even four inches of extra space makes a big difference, especially for cloth diapers. Now I put all my cloth diapers and container of wipes in the top drawer, which is even handier than the shelf set up as I’m almost always reaching into the drawer anyway.

Our six drawer dresser has held up remarkably well for two years under the slamming, banging, and stuffing both my older children like to do. I also like the extra space beyond the changing pad on top to store things like wipes and a diaper organizer.

If you’re going super saver on either budget or space or both, you can just buy a changing pad and keep it stored upright somewhere when not in use. That solution also works well for downstairs (say, behind a sofa) if you have bedrooms upstairs but get sick of running up and down the stairs for each diaper change.

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