You can change your baby’s nappy on a clean towel, but the more practical solution is to buy a special changing mat which is wipe-clean and foam filled to make an easy, hygienic, padded and comfortable surface, with a raised edge to stop your baby from rolling off.
This is a neat ‘tool box’ with compartments for storing all the essential cleaning and changing bits and pieces, a lid and carry handle.
Designed to keep nappies readily to hand, a nappy stacker is a shaped fabric bag that you fill with nappies then hang up out of the way but within easy reach of your changing area.
Essential kit for mums and dads – a changing bag is specially designed to carry all that you need to change a nappy, and more besides, when you’re out and about.
At one time changing bags looked like changing bags – usually made from a nursery-themed fabric with a changing mat attached to the outside. Then the manufacturers realised that for several years a changing bag would be a mother’s most used accessory, even replacing her handbag, and she might prefer something a little more stylish.
There are now lots of styles to choose from that anyone, mum or dad, would be pleased to carry. Changing bags are now designed to be fashionable – some even come in real or lookalike leather and suede – as well as practical and convenient to use.
Buying tips for choosing a changing bag
Your changing bag is going to be in daily use so it’s worth thinking about what you need before you buy. There are several styles – backpack, shoulder or weekend baby bag.
- A backpack-style changing bag leaves you with both hands free
- Look for lots of compartments to store nappies, sacks, wipes and cream, a change of clothes and a favourite toy. Some bags may also have a small zip-up waterproof bag for dirty clothes or messy items, a little pouch bag for storing a baby’s soother, and extra compartments so you can store your own things to save carrying a handbag as well
- A wipe-clean interior to the bag and all of its compartments is essential – a machine washable bag is even better. Some now have a waterproof nylon lining which is more durable than traditional PVC
- Some bags have a separate compartment or inner bag for carrying feeding things; this might be thermally insulated to keep the contents at a constant temperature
- Changing bags should come with a folding mat for the baby to lie on for nappy changes. Some are made of machine washable cloth while others are wipe-clean plastic and may be padded
- Adjustable straps are an important consideration. Wide straps with extra padding are the most comfortable
- Some pram and pushchair manufacturers make changing bags in matching fabrics to co-ordinate with their products
A changing station is designed to raise your baby up to your waist height for the numerous changes of nappy (up to 12 times a day for a new baby), so that you don’t have to kneel on the floor or bend over the bed, which can cause backache. It is also designed to store all the things you need to hand.
The big safety consideration is that your baby must never be left on any raised surface alone, not even for a second as you turn to pick something up. Keep one hand on your baby at all times when changing; even very young babies can shift their weight enough to topple.
This sort of raised nappy changing area is really only suitable if you’re extremely vigilant and as your baby gets bigger, you may find that it’s safer to change him on the floor.
However, a changing station does continue to provide a useful place to keep everything tidily together. Some can even be converted later on into a piece of furniture for your child’s bedroom.
Here are some of the different features you might find:
- An integral harness
- A fixed, wipe-clean, PVC covered changing area on top, with moulded accessory trays alongside for storing nappy changing and washing things
- Storage trays or shelves for towels, clothing and other baby things
- Castor wheels so you can move the table around. The wheels are usually lockable for safety
- A changing table with a foldaway frame to save space
- A lift-up top with a baby bath* underneath, with a plug and drainage pipe. Depending on the layout of your house you may have to fill the bath with a jug and drain the water into a bucket if there’s no basin nearby, which means that using a changing station for bathing may not be as convenient as having a traditional baby bath to use in the family bathroom
- Changing stations can also convert into free-standing shelving units or small chests of drawers. These are usually made from wood to look more like a piece of furniture, and while they will have a top level with raised edge for nappy changing, the PVC changing mat is a separate item
Think about the space available in your home and how you plan to use a changing station, both now and in the future, before buying one:
- Which is the most convenient and warm room for changing your baby? You may not want to go upstairs to a bathroom six or more times a day but you may not want a changing station cluttering up your living room
- Do you want to move the changing station around? In this case you will need castors
- Do you want a piece of furniture that will give long-term use?
- What is your budget? Tables which convert into furniture are generally more expensive
- What is the height of the nappy changing area? This differs from make to make and, as the main purpose is to save your back, choose one that brings the baby to the best height for whoever will be using it most.