A changing table can be a great addition to your baby gear. It’s an easy to reach, convenient place to change your baby’s diaper, especially in those early days when you are changing what feels like a million diapers a day! But can you use the changing table all the way until potty training? When does it become unsafe?
Parents should stop using a changing table if their baby weighs more than 30 pounds, is strong enough to sit up or roll from back to front easily, or can no longer be held in place safety with a child restraint – typically at around the age of 6-12 months.
The exact time you need to give up the changing table will vary based on your baby, so let’s look at the specifics, including whether you can just skip the changing table altogether.
How long are changing tables used?
Many parents use a changing table for at least the first year of their baby’s life. When you have a newborn, it can be great to have a safe spot to change a diaper, and you know all your supplies will be right there for you. As your baby grows into a toddler, it becomes trickier to use a changing table.
Depending on your changing table, weight isn’t often an issue. Changing tables do have weight limits, but they are usually 30 or 35 pounds. Check with your manufacturer to be sure. Typically, you will need to stop because of your baby’s mobility before you reach the weight limit.
For older toddlers who aren’t potty trained or who have special needs, there are toddler changing tables you can purchase. These are sturdier and can even have stairs so you don’t have to pick up a larger child.
Although your baby may not be too heavy for the changing table, you may find that there are still challenges to using it. When babies learn to roll over, they love to practice their new skill! You probably don’t have to stop using the changing table yet – often babies stop rolling quite so much once the novelty wears off.
As your baby gets older and more independent, she may start resisting diaper changes. This often comes with more attempts at rolling away, kicking, or even trying to crawl away or stand up. At this point, you will need to make a judgment call. You may be able to keep using the changing table if you can distract your little one enough to get the diaper change done.
If you don’t feel like you can safely keep your baby contained on the changing table, it’s probably time to say goodbye. Some parents find that once their baby outgrows the diaper change fighting stage, they can go back to using the changing table for a while longer.
When is a baby too big for a changing table?
Weight limits vary by manufacturer, but a changing table can typically hold a baby up to about 30 pounds. Check to be sure what the specifics are for yours.
You might also notice that your baby’s long legs are hanging off the end of the changing pad. This is okay, as long as they are still within the changing table’s boundaries. If there are little legs hanging over the edge, your baby is too big for the changing table.
When do babies outgrow changing tables?
The average child doesn’t reach 30 pounds until between ages 2 and 3. However, babies in the 90th percentile for weight can reach 30 pounds as soon as 14 months! If you have a large baby, pay close attention to your table’s weight limits.
Often once babies reach 12-15 months, they start fighting diaper changes and trying to escape from the changing table. This developmental milestone is typically when they have outgrown it.
The caregiver’s physical ability plays a role in changing table use too. If you are unable to safely lift your little on and off the changing table, it’s time to stop.
How do I stop my baby from rolling off the changing table?
As always, you should use the strap on your changing pad or table while changing the diaper. This isn’t meant to fully secure them, but it does help with rolling over. This is especially true when they are just trying to roll because it’s new and exciting to them. At this point, they are still small enough that the strap can help keep them on their backs when used properly.
Keep your hand on the baby at all times while changing. Make sure you have everything you need accessible before you start so you can give your full attention to your baby. If your older baby is trying to roll away or escape the diaper change, you might want to try a distraction.
Here are a few other tips to keep your baby safe while using a changing pad:
- Keep all of your supplies nearby when changing diapers so that you won’t be tempted to walk away from your baby.
- Establish a routine with your baby to ensure that you do things the same way every time to make your baby more comfortable.
- Sing or talk to your baby while changing her to keep her distracted and less likely to squirm around during the change.
If at any point, you feel that you cannot keep your baby safely on the changing table, you should stop using it.
When to get rid of a changing table
If your changing table is damaged in a way that is affecting its structural soundness, you should stop using it immediately and get rid of it. A broken changing table can collapse under the weight of your baby, which can be very dangerous.
If you’re done with the changing table but it’s still in good shape, you can save it if you’re planning to have another baby. If not, you may be wondering what else you can do with an old changing table. One issue that people have with changing tables is that they are hard to repurpose once the diaper days are over.
Some people get creative and upcycle their changing tables into other useful pieces of furniture. If you’re crafty, this could be a fun project! If not, you can try selling or donating it.
Do you really need a changing table?
Nope! Many parents choose to forgo the changing table, either for space or budget reasons. The only thing you really need is a safe space that is well-stocked with all of your diaper changing supplies.
In my experience, I’ve always felt that a dedicated changing table wasn’t worth the price. In fact, we’ve always just used a changing table pad along with a cover with all four of our babies. Changing table pads are awesome because you can move them around to different parts of the house, they are easy to clean, and very budget-friendly!
Here is an example of a great changing table pad that should serve you well for many years, if needed:
You can also just use space on the floor or another piece of furniture. Once the baby is standing, some parents prefer to do standing diaper changes in the bathroom.
What can I use instead of a changing table?
If you have space, you can use a wide dresser instead of a more traditional changing table. Just get a changing pad to place on top. You can use some of the dresser drawers to store diapering supplies and still probably have space for clothes. This can be a good option because when you’re done using it to change your baby, you can easily continue using it.
Another option for changing your baby’s diaper is to simply start on the floor. When your space is tight, it may not be feasible to have an entire changing table set up. If you have a lot of stairs in your house, you probably aren’t going to go up and down every time you need to change a diaper, right? In this case, you may prefer to set up multiple small diaper changing stations in the rooms where you spend the most time.