Baby Gear Health & Safety

Do I Need A Changing Table? (Pros, Cons, Best Alternatives)

As a new parent it can be hard to know what is essential and what is a nice to have for your baby.

While cribs, car seats and strollers generally fall into the essential category, something that’s less obvious is whether you need a changing table.

There is nothing to say you absolutely must use a changing table when changing your baby’s diapers, but many parents find them to be very useful during their baby’s first year or two.

So let’s take a look at the pros, cons and alternatives to changing tables in more detail, so you can make the right decision for you and your little one.

Do I Need A Changing Table?

If you are pregnant and currently planning what you’ll need for your baby boy or girl, you may be asking yourself if a changing table really necessary?

The answer will come down to several factors, including how much space you have, your budget, whether you’re prone to back or neck pain, and if there are any other flat surfaces in your home that you could convert or use as a changing table.

To help you make a balanced decision, we’ve explored some of the key pros and cons below.

Related: Deciding What Baby Gear You Really Need – The Complete Guide

Pros Of Using A Changing Table

Comfortable Height

One of the benefits of using a changing table is that they allow you to change a diaper at a comfortable height.

With your baby raised up, it not only becomes easier to change your baby, but you also won’t need to bend or hunch over.

Considering you will need to change your baby around 3,000 times in their first year alone, anything you can do to make life easier for you – and better for your back, neck and body – may well be worth it.

Contains Mess

Diaper changes can be a messy affair, so one of the pros of using a changing table is that they help contain all the mess in one place.

You can easily reach for wipes, a fresh diaper, clean clothes and throw the soiled diaper in a diaper pail, all while your baby is lying in front of you.

Space To Store Changing Essentials

Another big plus to using a changing table is that all those other bit and bobs (think diapers, wipes, creams, clothes, cleaning sprays) can be conveniently stores in the drawers or shelves.

This not saves time and offers convenience, but it should also help you to keep your house tidy and clutter free.

Below: Dream On Me Emily Changing Table In White From Amazon

Cons Of Using A Changing Table


A safe, good quality changing table can easily cost $200 to $300 or more.

Given all the other items you may need to buy for your little one – from a bassinet, crib, car seat and high chair, to clothes and other accessories they will quickly outgrow – you may find a changing table is one cost you could do without.


If space is limited either in your room or your baby’s nursery, then you may find it difficult to find somewhere to place a changing table.

These are often quite bulky pieces of furniture that have a heavy look due to their wooden structure.

So they can easily dominate a small room, assuming you can even fit one in your baby’s room in the first place.

Your Baby May Dislike Being Changed On The Table

Despite your best efforts, there’s no guarantee that your little one will allow you to change their diaper on a changing table and they may cry or complain when on the changing table.

While distractions can help, there are many parents who simply have to stop using changing tables well before their baby physically outgrows the changing table, so there’s a chance you may not get as much use out of a changing table as you expect.

May Only Last 6-18 Months

As mentioned above, you might find you have to say goodbye to a changing table sooner than you wish.

This could mean you only use one for as little as 6 months.

But even if your baby tolerates lying down for diaper changes on the table for longer, in many cases you’re unlikely to get more than 18 months use out of it.

Given the high cost of buying a changing table (see above), you might think this isn’t really worth it and you may be able to live with some of the popular alternatives to using a changing table (more on these later).

Do You Need A Changing Table Topper Or Tray?

If you want to change your baby on a raised surface, but don’t want to buy a dedicated changing table, then you may be interested in a changing table topper or changing tray.

Changing table toppers or trays are designed to let you convert a dresser or some other suitable furniture into a changing station.

Assembling a changing table tray or topper is usually quite straightforward, and generally involves attaching the tray to your furniture using screws.

Toppers or trays are favored by many parents because they are not only cheaper than buying an entire changing table, but once your child moves on from diapers, you can remove the topper or tray and your dresser will convert back to normal.

In addition, if the changing tray was attached with screws at the back of your furniture, then it’s unlikely to leave any visible marks.

Do I Need A Changing Pad?

Most parents will tell you that even though a changing table is not 100 per cent necessary, a changing pad is an essential purchase as it forms a key part of your baby’s diaper changing routine.

Some of the main benefits and common features of changing pads include:

    • Added comfort for your baby
    • Increased security due to their curved sides and safety belts
    • Waterproof
    • Easy to wipe clean with wet wipes
    • Helps contain mess and diaper blow-outs
    • Portable
    • Available in a range of colors, designs and prices

Do I Need A Changing Pad Cover?

Generally a changing pad cover isn’t something you absolutely need, but there are several good reasons why you might want to consider using them.

One benefit of a changing pad cover or liner is that they keep your little one warmer and more comfortable during diaper changes.

When your baby’s skin is directly against a changing pad your child might become cold (even in warmer months), so a pad cover helps keep your little one a more comfortable temperature.

In addition, changing pad covers are good at soaking up pee or poop during those messier changes, so using them adds another layer of hygiene.

This can be particularly helpful as the pad or liner will prevent pee and poop from dripping onto your furniture and even stop it going on the pad itself, which may stain or make the pad smell depending on the pad’s material.

How Many Changing Pad Covers Do I Need?

If you’ve decided to use changing pad covers, your next question will likely be how many covers or liners do you need?

The answer will largely depend on your laundry schedule, but much like bassinet sheets, most parents find 2 or 3 changing pad covers or liners is enough.

This will allow you to have one on the changing pad, one in the wash and one spare as a back-up in case your baby makes a mess while the second one is in the wash basket or still drying.

Changing Table Alternatives

If you want to avoid the cost of buying a changing table, lack the necessary space, or are concerned you won’t get enough use out of one, then you’re probably wondering what you can use if you don’t have a changing table.

Fortunately there are some tired and tested alternatives to using changing tables, which we’ll now cover.

Top 5 Alternatives To Changing Tables

1. Convert A Dresser

If you or your baby’s dresser is big enough, you could do what a lot of parents do and convert this piece of furniture into a changing table.

To help do this, you could use either a table changing tray or topper (see above), or place a changing pad on the top of the dresser.

If you’re going to use a topper then you may want to consider using a sticky changing pad, which are designed to stay in place using Velcro.

a dresser with a baby changing pad on top

2. Use Another Piece Of Furniture

Changing tables are flat, level surfaces, so if you have spaces in your house with these characteristics then you may be able to use these as an alternative.

Some common alternatives the are found in most houses include:

      • Desks
      • Dressers
      • Beds
      • Ottoman Footstools Or Leg Rests

3. Standing Diaper Changes

Once your baby is old enough to stand up, you could change their diaper while they are on their feet.

A good tip to make standing changes easier and safer is to ensure your little one has something secure to hold onto during the change, which will provide them with some added stability.

Father changing a diaper in living room

4. Change Baby On Floor

If you have a changing pad, and find it comfortable enough, then you could change you baby’s diaper on the floor.

Many children actually prefer diaper changes on the floor, particularly as it probably means you don’t need to take them away from their current activity in order to change their diaper.

For example if your little one is happily playing in the living room, then mom or dad changing them on the floor is likely to go down better than having to move them away from the fun and into another room for a diaper change.

5. Folding Changing Table

While this solution is still technically a changing table, it saves a lot of space compared to a regular changing table.

A foldable table will offer most of the same benefits of the real thing, but with their practical design you’ll be able to store them in between changes if necessary.

So if you want to enjoy the advantages of a changing table, but lack the space, it’s well worth considering a folding or portable one.

Tori is mama to 3 year old Isabella and co-founder of Rockinbaby. She has a BSc in Psychology, is a certified yoga teacher and is a working mom. In her free time Tori loves cooking delicious foods and baked treats, entertaining and working out. Learn more about Tori here.

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