Introduction to Changing Tables
Changing tables, a staple for many parents, have come a long way and can be found in nearly every style and color imaginable. Not everyone considers changing tables a necessity, however. While changing diapers does require some place to do it, with some creativity, other pieces of furniture can do the trick just as well.
Alternative Changing Tables
Some people simply use a portable changing pad that can be placed anywhere including the floor. This, however, can be hard on the parents' backs and knees. Others put a changing pad on top of a dresser, storing diapering supplies in the top drawer. This can be an excellent alternative, as long as you have a nice thick changing pad that can be firmly attached to the top of the dresser for safety, and the top of the dresser is at a good height for you.
Other parents look at the space in the baby's room and decide to include pieces of furniture which can be used for more than one purpose. If a twin bed is put in the baby's room along with a portable changing pad, the parent can change the baby while sitting on the bed, as well as catch some sleep between middle of the night feedings. Also available are playpens that can convert into portable changing tables or even bassinets. Whether you use a changing pad separate from, or in connection with, a changing table, it should be as easy to clean and preferably waterproof.
Traditional Changing Tables
If you do go for a traditional changing table, there are two main styles to consider: a combination dresser/changing table and a separate changing table. The combination dresser/changing tables usually have a top that flips open, revealing a padded changing area. If you are buying one of these combination changing tables, be aware that the flip-top is not generally recommended because it has been shown to compromise stability when the top is opened. Instead, look for a combination dresser/changing table that has the changing table and pad out in the open, instead of covered by a movable a lid.
The most important thing to look for in either type of changing table is, of course, safety. Some changing tables include straps or railings to help make sure that a baby cannot wiggle off of the table. The higher the guardrail around the changing table is, the better, although you should keep in mind that they are not so high that they get in the way of what you need to do. Safety straps can also be used to help secure your baby onto the table, but some parents find these more of a hindrance than a help. Regardless of whether you use straps or guardrails, you should still always have one hand on your baby.
The sturdiness of a changing table is also important. Shake and lean on the table and make sure you feel comfortable with it. You don't want a changing table that always feels rickety or is in danger of tipping over.
Storage is another feature to consider. You'll need to store wipes, diapers, diaper cream, etc., and it should all be in a place that you can reach without taking your eyes or your hands off your baby. Open shelves are usually the most convenient, although some people like drawers or baskets.
Changing tables generally cost between $100 and $250 US Dollars (USD), and combination dresser/changing tables generally start at $200 USD and go up from there. Make sure that you send in the product registration card for your changing table, as this is probably the best way that you can ensure you are notified in case of a safety recall.
Written by Bronwyn Harris
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