An average baby goes through about 6000 nappies, and when you're elbow-deep in baby by-product several times a day for a couple of years, you want the experience to be as efficient as possible for you and as safe as possible for your little one.
Here's how to choose the right baby changing table, according to our experts.
There are several main types of change tables you'll find in shops:
- Wooden tables with two or three tiers to hold baby supplies.
- Portable folding tables with a metal frame and fabric body.
- Tables that include a baby bath under the change surface.
- Changing tables with drawers, designed to be a permanent fixture.
- A change table should be strong, stable and have some form of roll-off protection, such as raised sides, to prevent a child rolling off the changing surface.
- It should also be free of hazards such as sharp edges or finger or limb traps.
- The side barriers ideally should be at least 10cm high; this is high enough to prevent roll-off when the table is used correctly, and is easy to check in store before you buy, which is why CHOICE encourages manufacturers to make their tables with sides of this height. (In our tests, some tables with shorter sides than this have passed the roll-off test, but it's a good rule of thumb.)
- A restraint strap can help secure your baby, but is not a substitute for proper attention and normal safety measures.
- Harnesses are useful for a little extra peace of mind, but again you should never wholly rely on them to keep your baby safe.
- The table should be well balanced to avoid tipping. Some non-portable designs can be anchored to a wall.
- The change table should have plenty of storage space to keep nappies, wipes, lotion and other baby necessities within arm's reach, so you don't have to go far or take your eye off junior to fetch things.
- Check that the shelves or drawers are big enough to be useful, and in a convenient position for the spot in the nursery where you'll place the table.
- Multiple shelves and side trays give the most storage, but a table with just one shelf is still useful.
- Choose a change table that suits your height, so you won't have to bend or reach too far while changing nappies (which, remember, you'll be doing around 6000 times!).
- If you are short on space, a foldable change table could be a good buy.
- Not all change tables include a mattress or changing mat, so you may need to buy one separately. Consult the instructions for dimensions and make sure it fits snugly. A mattress with raised sides will help prevent your baby from rolling over.
- Check whether the change table has castors at the bottom, and if so, whether the castors have brakes.
Ease of cleaning
- The changing surface should be easy to wipe down when messes happen (and they will!). The mattress or padding should also be easy to wash.
- Some change tables come in hundreds of pieces. While you'll probably only be doing this once, it's a good idea to put some time aside for the task. Our experts, who have experience assembling hundreds of change tables, have found that some take more than an hour to complete.
- Ensure collapsible frames are locked securely in place before use.
- Keep everything needed to change your baby close at hand but out of their reach.
- Ensure the change table is free from small objects that can cause choking.
- Try to keep one hand on your baby at all times while changing them. Never leave your baby unattended on a change table, even just to grab something across the room; always take them with you.
- Be wary of older siblings climbing on change tables, especially models with pull-out drawers that can act as steps or unbalance the table.
While a change table can be a useful addition to the nursery and help keep your supplies organised and accessible, they aren't essential: you may find changing your baby on a bed or on the floor with a change mat perfectly adequate. Just be sure to keep them supervised at all times, as they can be very wriggly!
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.