Do You Really Need a Changing Table?

Downsides to Disposable FurnitureChanging table with basket bins stored on open shelving underneath

  • What: Changing Table Drawbacks
  • When: Birth to potty training
  • Why not: Single purpose, short lived use
  • Where: Your home

You end up buying so much stuff with a newborn. While some things, like the safest car seats, can eat into the budget, what furniture do you really need? A changing table ranks high on lots of prospective parents’ list.

Child's dresser with shelving on top filled with stuff overflowing

This dresser served as our original changing area more than eight years ago. It’s still going strong and we use it daily.

As you may know, I recommend against changing tables. I prefer a dresser with drawers instead. The diaper years don’t last forever (thank goodness!) and the changing table, with its open shelving, often outlives its usefulness.

Dresser set up for changing diapers with open shelving above

We upgraded to a six drawer dresser to get more surface area five years ago.

The open shelves rarely stay neat and tidy even before your infant morphs into a machine that automatically tosses everything in reach onto the floor. Bins can help corral things, but only go so far to keep things sorted. And once your kids outgrow diapers, it becomes harder to store actual clothing (which sadly kids require perpetually) on the open shelves or even in the same bins neatly.

Dresser with nine cube shelves on top

We still use the same six drawer dresser with added shelving on top every day.

Changing tables don’t look as tidy, offer much range in styles (since they are basically a table), and have less surface area on top for extras like wipes and diaper storage. Dressers come in a much larger variety of lengths, widths, and heights (so tall people don’t spend extra time bent over, and shorter people don’t have to reach higher than comfortable). Plus, dressers can easily last until college or later, unlike the changing table.

Infant laying on bed on towel for diaper changing

Even a towel will do for a changing area that’s easy to clean.

You don’t even need furniture dedicated to changing. You can buy a fancy changing pad that can go on the floor and takes up minimal space when stood upright and tucked out of site. Or if your infant bunks with you, you can get a simple changing mat or even a towel to lay out for any diaper changes. It costs less, takes up less space, and cleans easily with all the other laundry your offspring will generate. You can even use a diaper changing kit like the Skip Hop Pronto for everyday changes at home.

Infant laying on Skip Hop Pronto diaper changing station getting tickled by older sibling

A Skip Hop Pronto changing station (or any other portable kind) does the job just as well.

If you absolutely must have a dedicated space for changing diapers, check out secondhand stores and buy nothing lists online. You can usually find a wide selection as other more seasoned parents have reached the same conclusions, and parted ways with the changing table after a relatively short period of use.

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