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Setting Up Your Changing Station

Find tips for setting up your baby's changing station, and learn what essential items to have on hand.

Setting Up Your Changing Station


Make sure that the baby wipes you buy do not contain alcohol. Alcohol will make your baby's bottom too dry.

Here's what you should have on hand whenever you change your baby:

  • A generous supply of washcloths, baby wipes, or cotton balls for wiping. Rather than using bathtub washcloths, get an entirely separate supply for bottoms only. (Make sure the patterns or colors are distinctive enough so that you can tell them apart, or you may end up washing your face with a bottom washcloth.)
  • Warm water (for washcloths) and/or baby oil (for cotton balls). (Filling a thermos of warm water and placing it near the changing table right before bed can save a lot of trouble in the wee hours of the night.)
  • Plenty of clean diapers, cloth or disposable.
  • Masking tape to repair a disposable diaper's adhesive tabs, which invariably come off in your hand when you're down to the last diaper in the house.
  • At least a dozen diaper wraps, which are rubber-lined or otherwise waterproof covers (usually fastened with Velcro tabs) that hold a cloth diaper in place.
  • About a dozen diaper pins to hold the diaper wraps in place (after the Velcro has picked up so many other fibers in the laundry that it no longer works).
  • Diaper cream for the treatment of diaper rash.
  • Baby powder, if you think it's necessary.
  • A change of clothes for your baby just in case what he's wearing has become wet or soiled.
  • A diaper pail with a secure-and hopefully air-tight-lid.

Note that this list does not include soap. You can use soap, but it's usually not necessary. In fact, if your baby has a diaper rash, the detergents in most soaps can irritate his skin even more.


Always use diaper pins rather than safety pins. Safety pins can open more easily and hurt your baby.

Baby Doctor

Most pediatricians would caution against using any kind of baby powder, because inhaling particles of talcum or corn starch can be dangerous to your baby's health.

Make sure to place everything you need to diaper your baby within easy reach. Once you put your baby down on the changing table, you cannot leave him there while you run around the room searching for a diaper pin, dash to the bathroom for a warm washcloth, or get down on your hands and knees to find the diaper cream that's slipped under the table. Even if you have secured your baby to the changing table with a strap or belt, leaving him alone, even for "just a second," is unsafe.

Keep your changing supplies constantly accessible, but at the same time, keep them out of your child's reach. Store supplies in changing table drawers or on a high shelf that your baby can't reach (even from the changing table, once he's standing). Or you can buy a decorative, pocketed wall hanging (not unlike a child-friendly shoe bag) made expressly for the purpose of holding diapering supplies.

Once you have set up your baby's primary changing station, establish satellite stations throughout your home. You will find it handy to keep a portable changing mat and a full set of diapering supplies on every floor (if not in every room) of your house. That way, you don't have to trudge upstairs to the baby's room every time he needs a change.

A satellite station next to your bed is especially handy if, like most parents, you bring your baby into your own bed for midnight feedings. Most newborns need at least one change in the middle of the night. (The best time is midway through a midnight feeding-halfway through the bottle or when you switch breasts.) If you have all the supplies you need next to your bed, neither you nor your baby will need to wake up fully for nighttime changes.

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