Changing tables are specialized pieces of baby furniture which allow parents to change a baby's diaper safely and easily. Typical home changing tables feature three shelving units: two lower ones for diaper accessory storage and an upper shelf for the actual changing. Most changing tables reach a height suitable for adults to reach the infant or toddler without excessive bending.
Changing tables also feature high guard rails and a security strap which works much like a seat belt restraint for the baby. For additional comfort and hygiene, separate mats can be placed on the top shelf. These mats can be disposable or padded or waterproof. The idea is to keep changing tables from becoming contaminated or weakened from excessive moisture.
Many restaurants and retail stores now offer changing tables in their public restrooms. These changing tables may not have all of the amenities of home models, but they do allow parents to place their child at a comfortable height for diaper changes. Parents may want to use hygienic disposable pads for protection against communicable disease, or a quick spray of a disinfectant like Lysol. Some public facilities feature antiseptic wipes or disposable guards for just such occasions. Parents should return the favor by cleaning the changing tables after use.
When shopping for changing tables, many experts suggest stability is the key consideration. Since many home changing tables are sold in kit form, some assembly may be required at home. Parents should test the tables for any signs of weakness in the joints or security straps. Caster wheels should work smoothly and have a solid locking mechanism. Guard rails should be high enough to prevent accidental roll-outs. Cheaper changing tables may use a pasteboard shelving unit with a low maximum weight capacity. This may lead to the need for another changing table before the child is out of the diaper stage.
Another consideration with changing tables is cushioning. A particular model may match the baby room's decor, but the cushioning pad may not be especially comfortable. Many parents find that other features such as disposability or waterproofing outweigh the benefits of a coordinated changing table. A fashionable but effective changing table cushion can be made from a upholstered foam pad and a layer of waterproof plastic laminate. This iron-on laminate can be found in most fabric stores.
Some changing tables use closed drawers for diaper accessory storage instead of open shelves. Parents may find this feature to be a little cumbersome when changing out a diaper. Access to fresh diapers and powders should be within arm's reach, not hidden in a closed drawer. Those who do choose a dresser/changing table combination may want to store extra clothing in the drawers and keep the diapering accessories in a more accessible area.