How to Set Up Diaper Changing Station: A Step-By-Step Guide

Diaper changes are an inevitable aspect of parenthood.

Regardless of how squeamish or horrified you get at the sight of poo, changing diapers is a task that has to be faced multiple times in a period of 24 hours.

In fact, chances are you’ll have to do it (on a daily basis) more times than you can count on both hands.

A picture of a diaper changing station, baby lying on the table and looking at the camera, with a toy next to him

Just to put you in the picture, Chris Boggiano calculated the number of days the average parent spends changing diapers for one child.

Based on the average of seven diaper changes a day (newborns need diaper changes more often than this, but the frequency gets less and less as your little one grows), and at 5 minutes each with potty training at age 3 years, you’ll be spending a total of 638.75 hours changing diapers!

This equates to 26.6 days, which is almost a whole month PURELY dedicated to changing diapers!

With these numbers in mind, I’m sure you agree that your diaper changing station has to be both efficiently setup and comfortable, both for your own sake and that of your baby.

For that reason, let’s delve right in with tips on how to set up the ideal diaper changing station for babies.

Ideal Diaper Changing Station Set Up

Before we delve in on the placing of items, let’s go over the list of diapering essentials you need to have as part of your changing station:

Elevated, Adequately Sized Surface

There’s a great selection of diaper changing tables available out there, but two of the most important factors to consider are that the station you opt for meets all safety standards, and that its height is comfortable for you.

Remember that you’ll be changing around 6000 diapers before your little one is potty trained, so you want to ensure that you’re as comfortable as possible when doing so!

Padded Changing Mat

An uncomfortable baby will wriggle, and older babies will simply refuse to stay on their back if the surface is uncomfortable.

Having a changing pad on top will make the diaper change an easier experience for both your little one and yourself.

Diapers (A Lot of Them)

It’s a baby changing station after all, so it’s only natural that it should be well stocked with diapers. And when I say well stocked with diapers, I mean many of them!

It’s downright horrible to remove your baby’s soiled diaper only to realize you don’t have a clean one at reach! Babies tend to use diapers at an alarming rate, so make sure you’re well-stocked so that you’re never out of luck.


Baby wipes go hand in hand with diapers.

They last long if unopened, and the majority of us go through them like a dose of salt.

So, it helps to have a healthy stock of baby wipes on hand as part of your diaper changing station. Always have at least one packet for easy reach, and others neatly stored.

Rash Cream, Lotion and Skin Protector

Diaper rashes rear their head unannounced, and when they’re here, they’ll make your life miserable if you’re unprepared.

One second your little one’s bum is perfectly pink and soft, and the next it’s sore and angry red!

To be prepared for all of this once (not if) it rears its ugly head, keep diaper rash creams, lotion and/or skin protectors at easy reach to deal with irritated skin at the earliest, before it becomes any more problematic than it already is.

Extra Changing Pad Covers

I suggest you invest in at least two changing pad covers. Babies tend to get a kick out of peeing as soon as the diaper is removed.

Most parents that have been there and done that will recommend that you have two waterproof covers at the same time, and simply removing the top cover if it gets soiled.

Hand Sanitizer (For You)

Chances are that the changing table you have at home is not close to the bathroom sink.

You want to retain absolute hygiene whenever changing diapers is concerned, especially if there’s poo involved.

An easy to reach hand sanitizer ensures that your hands are clean as you pick up your baby following a change.

Hair Ties (For You)

Believe me, the last thing you want is a strand of hair in touch with poo! Save yourself the yuck factor and leave some hair ties at easy reach.

That said, ensure that your little one cannot get a hold of them at all, as they can present a choking hazard.

Favorite Toy, Rattle or Teething Toys

Babies squirm and kick and try to escape a whole lot during a diaper change, which is terrible for their own safety if they do manage to get away, roll and fall over.

Leave a toy or rattle handy to distract them during the change. Otherwise, a simple diaper change can easily turn into an exhausting workout for you!

Dirty Diaper Disposal System

Diapers smell, especially disposable ones. Old pee stinks, and a soiled diaper can easily stink up a whole house. That’s why you need diaper pails!

Set up a dirty diaper disposal system that’s next to the changing station for easy chucking away, as well as one that your little one can’t easily open.

Ideally, it’s a system that keeps unsavory scents at bay. There’s plenty of diaper bins out there that manage to mask the smell, and even regular bins can do the job if sealed well.

A bin with a foot pedal system is ideal, as you’ll stay holding on to your baby as you throw away the diaper, and won’t need your hands occupied with anything else.

Onesies, Pjs, Socks and Outfit Change

Not only do messy accidents happen, but your baby changing station is also going to be a place where you’ll be changing your baby’s clothes on a regular basis.

If the changing table does not have inbuilt drawers or space to fit in your baby’s clothes, leave a small selection of onesies, pjs, and one outfit at easy reach.

Laundry Bag

If you’re using this space to change your baby’s clothes as well, having a laundry bag near the changing station comes in very handy.

How to Set Your Changing Table up for Success

Your diaper changing station will deal with messy things, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t still look beautiful and complement the rest of the room!

Investing in some pretty baskets can make an ordinary changing station go a very long way – they also add functionality and a good dose of organization.

Once you’ve settled on a baby changing station that’s an ideal height for you, it’s time to organize it.

Every item needed for a diaper change should have a designated home that you assign it to.

There’s no time to be frantically looking for things while you’re changing a diaper, so make sure to put everything back in its place once you’re done.

This helps you find everything ready for the next nappy change, as well as makes it easier for other people changing your little one’s diaper.

Changing diapers already involves a degree of dexterity – you’ll have one hand on your little one and another reaching for things. Since none of us have the pleasure of owning a third hand, you want to have everything at easy reach!

One way to do this is to have a handy diaper caddy containing some diapers, wipes, diaper cream and a toy. You can replenish this caddy as you go along (aka during nap time) with extra diapers and wipes.

If your changing station does not come with drawers, open baskets can be a handy addition and a beautiful way of storing all that needs to be within reach during a nappy change.

One basket can be dedicated to extra diapers and wipes, a second to the baby’s clothes for quick changes, and a third with some toys, creams and anything else you might use during a diaper change.

Place the diaper bin and a laundry basket next to the changing station. You want these two elements as close as humanly possible for more straightforward changing.

The most important thing to think about when setting up your diaper changing table is that it should be safe for your little one. Hazardous items that are placed within your toddler or baby’s reach while on the changing station should be removed – this also includes any pretty frames you have hung directly above the changer.

Last but not least, this one should go without saying, but I still want to emphasize it: babies, no matter how tiny and immobile they are, should never be left on a changing station unattended! Not even for a measly two seconds.

Wrapping it Up

Considering the number of hours – actually, days – you’ll spend changing your baby’s diapers, comfort and ease of use is key when setting up a diaper changing station.

A difficult diaper change is not only stressful for you, but can also be stressful and dangerous for your little one as well.

Most importantly, keep in mind that babies and toddlers should never be left unattended on a changer as you quickly reach for something that’s needed.

So, always keep all the items you might need during a change within arm’s reach, so you can get a hold of them while still having the other hand on your baby.

Here’s to a more straightforward 26.6 days of changing diapers!

Diaper duty, here we come!

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