Baby's is on the way! You've prepped the rest of your home and baby's room, and now it's time to set your sights on the subject of active nappy duty. You can't escape the inevitable nappy changing sessions. No one can. But, you can set up your changing station in such a way that it is pleasant to the eyes, functional to your hands, and all around baby-friendly.
The changing table
Whether you decide to set up the changing area on a stand-alone table, desk, or dresser, you should have a free surface that is about 34 inches to 43 inches above the floor so that you don't have to strain your back. Check that the legs of the surface are steady and will not accidentally collapse.
Your changing station should be well stocked with changing supplies. If your table has storage space, nothing like it. If not, you can opt for a makeshift stand-up shelf or a hanging cloth one. If you don't have drawers, then baskets work just as well for keeping all your nappy paraphernalia.
Babies are squirmy, and continue to become more so as they grow older and become more aware and captivated by their surroundings. Either a contoured or flat pad is fine, but it should have safety straps that can be fastened securely around your baby to prevent him from accidentally rolling off. If your changing pad is simple and doesn't have straps, you can add makeshift, but sturdy, straps to the underneath of the changing table and have them long enough to hold your baby and the changing pad securely in place while you change nappies.
If you travel around with your baby, or plan to do so in the coming weeks or months, you should consider invest in getting a portable/fold-up changing mat. Not all counter tops, tables, and baby changing areas in public places are clean enough to lay your little one on the surface itself without any added protection and padding.
Cover for the changing pad
Whether or not you're exceptionally quick at taking the nappy off and putting a clean one on, there will be times when your baby will make a mess of the changing pad. To keep the foam on the changing pad from getting soiled, use a waterproof cover over it. That way, should your baby make a mess, you just need to throw the cover in the wash and put on a new one. Additionally, it's always a good idea to have extra ones on hand, just in case the cover gets wet or soiled beyond washing.
This is probably the most important item, and clearly a must have, for every changing table. If you are using disposable baby nappies, keep them out of the plastic bag and stacked neatly in a corner of the table where you can easily reach them. If you are using cloth nappies, do the same. At least a day's worth of nappies should be on the table. Keep the rest of them tucked away in a drawer near by.
Your baby will go through more than a couple nappies each day. To save the inevitable no-nappy-situation from happening, buy in bulk. Buying baby nappies in bulk can be a huge time and money saver, and if you can order bulk online and avoid a trip out, nothing like it.
Nappy pail or bin with a lid
Keep a nappy pail or odour-sealing bin just under the changing table so that you don't have to leave your baby on the table and go dispose of the nappy elsewhere. It's handy to have a bin with a foot-pedal, as this will keep your hands free and you won't have to bend down so much. Your back will thank you!
As with nappies, buy wipes in bulk. Try to get good deals on these because your baby will go through wipes--fast! If you prefer to have a box of wipes instead of a packet, get the box one time and then buy refills in bulk. Always have plenty of baby wipes within reach, at the the changing table, beside baby's bed, in your car, and pretty much anywhere you might have your baby with you. This will help you have a quick solution for spit-ups and other baby messes.
Washing your hands is always preferable, but when it comes to changing your baby, it's not safe to keep him on the changing table while you make a dash to the bathroom and back. Use a squirt of hand sanitizer before and after changing the nappy, and then once your little one has their nappy on and is safely in their playpen, you can wash your hands. Remember to keep the hand sanitizer away from your baby's reach.
Keep basic baby creams on hand as well as some for treating nappy rash, just in case you need it. Moisturisers can be used to keep your baby's skin soft and free from eczema and dry spots. Always check the labels on your baby skin care products and make sure they are hypoallergenic and fragrance-free.
Basic first-aid kit and baby nail clippers
Basic grooming tools like your baby's hair brush, nail clippers, etc can be kept at the changing table to make quick work of making your baby pretty and presentable.
During your baby's cranky days, having a pacifier or soother handy can help you approach the nappy changing ordeal just a bit more easily. Other distractions like colourful board books, a rattle, or soft toy are useful to have on hand too.
Baby's clothes and snap-close bodysuits
Keep a couple of baby's pyjamas neatly folded at your changing station just in case your baby's outfit gets messy during nappy changing sessions.