Your Beautifully Designed Nursery Deserves One of the Best Changing Tables
Style and safety go hand in hand here.
Published Dec 20, 2021 4:30 PM
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According to experts, a baby in the U.S. will go through about 3,000 diapers (or six daily changes) during their first year. (It’s a good thing babies are so cute.) Since it gets such extensive use, a changing table that’s well designed and can stand up to wear and tear is crucial. There are safety and style features to consider, options for open and closed storage, and designs that work especially well in small nurseries or multifunctional rooms. Just as the rocking chair has met its rival in the new and improved nursery glider, the changing table has seen competition from the convertible dresser. We’ve included both in our list: traditional changing tables and those that live a second life as a dresser after the baby years.
To find the best changing tables, we tapped experts for the most important features, the pros and cons of various storage options, and what to look for (and look out for). As these top picks prove, just because a changing table can be the site of diaper issues doesn’t mean it can’t also bring good design to the nursery.
- Best budget: DaVinci Jenny Lind Changing Table
- Best for small spaces: Linea by Leander Changing Table
- Best three-drawer dresser (plus matching tray topper): Sparrow Three-Drawer Dresser
- Best convertible: Spot Convertible Dresser/Changing Table
- Best double-wide: West Elm x Pottery Barn Kids Ray Extra Wide Dresser & Topper Set
- Best changing tray: Domino x Crate&Kids Ash Dresser Changer Top
- Best rattan: Ellie & Becks Aria Full-Sized Changing Table
- Best wall-mounted: Charlie Crane Changing Table
Best Budget: DaVinci Jenny Lind Changing Table
Dimensions: 36.25-by-19.25-by-39.75 inches | Guardrail: Yes | Removable tray: No | Drawers: No | Open shelves: Yes | Changing mattress or tray topper: A changing mattress is not included, but you can buy a DaVinci one here
What we like:
- Available in multiple colors, including a light gray and white
- 1-inch waterproof pad and anti-tip kit for added safety included
- Due to supply chain issues, many retailers have sold out of this changing table, but Kids N Cribs has it in stock (for now)
Why we chose it: It’s a traditional changing table with open shelving for easy access to diapers and other supplies—all at a great price.
Swedish opera legend Jenny Lind’s tour of the United States in the 19th century was responsible for the advent of spindle-style furniture because the singer apparently slept on a bed with spindle posts during her visit. With its balance of visual interest and simplicity, spindle-style furniture has remained popular ever since, particularly in children’s rooms. This changing table is an example of that timeless design done well: The high guard meets safety recommendations, and the open shelves offer easily accessible diaper storage. At an affordable price point, it will be simple to part with once you’re done changing diapers. And given how cute it is, an expecting friend or family member will be happy to take possession.
Best for Small Spaces: Linea by Leander Changing Table
Dimensions: 26.3-by-28-by-35.8 inches | Guardrail: On two sides | Removable tray: No | Drawers: No | Open shelves: Yes | Changing mattress or tray topper: Sold separately
What we like:
- Adjustable height
- Wood is treated with lacquer, so it’s easy to wipe down
- On the smaller side
Why we chose it: This simple Scandinavian design has standout features.
Not everyone has room for a nursery; for families with small children sharing a bedroom, keeping the changing table in another room might make sense to accommodate different sleep and nap schedules. Leander to the rescue with this sleek, small-footprint changing table that serves its purpose without looking too babyish. The height is also adjustable, a plus for tall or short parents to avoid excessive bending or reaching.
Best Three-Drawer Dresser (plus Matching Tray Topper): Sparrow Three-Drawer Dresser
Dimensions: 37-by-19.7-by-33 inches | Guardrail: No | Removable tray: Yes | Drawers: Yes | Open shelves: No | Changing mattress or tray topper: Changing tray with pad sold separately
What we like:
- GreenGuard Gold certified and sustainably produced, with nontoxic finishes
- Deep drawers
- 50-pound weight capacity
- High price tag
Why we chose it: A sustainably made investment piece that’s easy to convert into a standard dresser after the diaper years.
Shopping for nursery gear while pregnant isn’t always easy. Shopping while pregnant when you’re not exactly sure where you’ll live when the baby arrives? A whole new ball game. For Alex Willkie, the founder of Willkie’s, a shop for children and babies, the solution was the Sparrow line from Oeuf.
“Since we didn’t know where we’d be living, I chose pieces I knew could fit seamlessly into any room or aesthetic,” explains Willkie. She used the Sparrow dresser in a white and birch combo for a subtle, neutral piece that will last for years to come. “I topped the changing table with its changing tray and pad,” she says. “I like that the tray can be removed when we no longer need it, and that the pad is made of a renewable plant-based foam.” The dresser is sustainably and ethically produced; the finishes are nontoxic; and it fulfills Europe’s more stringent environmental standards, too.
Best Convertible: Spot Convertible Dresser/Changing Table
Dimensions: 38-by-24-by-73 inches | Guardrail: No | Removable tray: Yes | Drawers: Yes | Open shelves: No | Changing mattress or tray topper: Tray is included, but a changing mattress isn’t
What we like:
- Nontoxic finishes
- Comes with a two-year warranty
- Back-ordered until 1/22/2022; the company recommends placing an order now to secure one in the next shipment
- 30-day return window; customer pays return shipping
Why we chose it: An innovative design that will give you a changing table, dresser, or desk, depending on what you need.
This is one of the coolest convertible pieces that we’ve seen, particularly because the different iterations look so unique. Instead of just adding a changing tray to a dresser, this piece goes full transformer, working as a changing table, dresser, or kids’ desk. Since it can change with your child and meet their room’s various needs, it’s a great way to avoid replacement pieces.
Hang a mobile from the overhead rail to provide a bit of distraction during diaper changes; convert the piece into a dresser after the baby years, and the rail could feature dress-up clothes on hangers or arts and crafts creations. With an A-frame design and coming in at 131 pounds, this solidly constructed piece of wood furniture isn’t going anywhere. Not that you’d want it to.
Best Double-Wide: West Elm x Pottery Barn Kids Ray Extra Wide Dresser & Topper Set
Dimensions: 56-by-19-by-33.5 inches | Guardrail: The rims of the topper are 3 inches high, but with a changing mat added, it won’t act as a guard rail | Removable tray: Yes | Drawers: Yes | Open shelves: No | Changing mat: Sold separately
What we like:
- Large knobs are easy for kids to use
- GreenGuard Gold certified means healthier indoor air quality
- The safety stops keep drawers in place
- Not available for store pickup
- Now taking preorders for late January/early February delivery
Why we chose it: We love the mid-century design and oversize geometrics of this generously sized dresser that doubles as a changing area.
A double-wide dresser offers surface space for more than just a changing pad: Stash wipes and diapers in a basket for even more convenience than storing them in a drawer or on a shelf.
The oversize knobs make a unique statement, but they also are easy for kids to use, which is ideal as a nursery transforms into a child’s room. Plus having a lot of storage at a low height is more accessible for young kids than a taller dresser would be. While the dresser is wide, the narrow legs prevent it from feeling too block-y, and dovetail joinery and metal glides ensure the drawers move seamlessly. The feet also have levelers for slightly uneven floors. Another safety note: The changing tray topper does not just sit on the dresser; metal brackets to secure it are included. Want a matching set for the nursery? Pair it with the crib.
Best Changing Tray: Domino x Crate & Kids Ash Dresser Changer Top
Dimensions: 36-by-18-by-3 inches | Guardrail: No | Removable Tray: Yes | Drawers: Yes, if you get the matching dresser | Open shelves: No | Changing mattress or tray topper: Changing mattress sold separately
What we like:
- GreenGuard Gold Certified
- Beautiful ash-wood veneer
- Not expected to ship until early April
Why we chose it: A classic changing tray that can go with a matching dresser or be used on its own.
The best thing about a changing tray? You can also use it independently if you’d like, keeping changing supplies corralled for floor changes in the living room, for example. This changing tray with a matching dresser from Domino’s collection with Crate & Kids offers endless flexibility. The changing tray can be secured (and removed) from the dresser with included hardware, and the six-drawer dresser has sizable storage capacity and cute oversize knobs in lilac, blue, orange, or wood.
Best Rattan: Ellie & Becks Aria Full-Sized Changing Table
Dimensions: 31-by-24-by-37 inches | Guardrail: Yes | Removable tray: No | Drawers: No | Open shelves: Yes | Changing mattress or tray topper: Comes with a changing pad mattress; tray not needed
What we like:
- 75-pound weight limit, which is high for a changing table; sturdy and well made
- There’s a matching doll-size version
- Includes a changing pad mattress
- Ships February 2022
- Returns for a refund include a $100 return shipping fee
Why we chose it: A boho-chic option that will work well in a variety of nurseries.
Natural materials integrate easily into all kinds of design schemes; this changing table could add a bit of texture in a more traditional nursery or tie together a boho nursery. It’s made of rattan, a strong, durable material with subtle variations in color. And it’s visually light and airy, which is great for a small nursery or to balance out heavier pieces of furniture.
Most changing tables are positioned with the long side against the wall, but because this one has a gap in the guard rail on a shorter side, you can also have the long side extend out into the room for more flexibility, depending on the layout of the nursery.
Best Wall-Mounted: Charlie Crane Changing Table
Dimensions: 35.8-by-27.5-by-35.4 inches (when open; the height is the height of the mounted table itself, not the height from the floor) | Guardrail: Yes | Removable tray: No | Drawers: No | Open shelves: Yes | Changing mattress or tray topper: Mattress sold separately, tray not needed
What we like:
- Ships within 24 hours
- Wood comes from sustainably managed forests and paint is nontoxic
- The tabletop is durable and easy to clean
- Mounts on the wall with two screws
Why we chose it: A fold-down changing table is a great way to save floor space.
This easy fold-down changing table is a great option to save floor space or reduce clutter in the nursery. One especially handy feature is that the shelves are above, not below, the changing surface, meaning it’s even easier to reach the diaper cream. Because the design is wall-mounted, you have the ability to hang it at a height that works best for you, as opposed to being limited by the standard height of a traditional changing table. The soft curves and trapezoidal shape are appealing open or closed.
How We Chose These Products
We researched the category with eyes on quality materials, price point, style, and sustainability. We looked for nontoxic finishes, practical touches, and options for those who like drawers and those who prefer open shelving. We also sought out brands that bring great design to kids’ spaces and options for nurseries big and small.
Our Shopping Checklist
“We’ve entered a new era, where parents want a space that speaks to their own tastes, family values, and littles’ unique personalities,” says Sylvana Durrett, cofounder and CEO of Maisonette. “A lot of parents today view their kids’ style as an extension of their own—and the rooms we are seeing reflect that shift.” Nurseries no longer need to be all frills and pastel, and the changing table, while utilitarian, need not be devoid of style. Particularly if it’s a convertible dresser model, it will be with you for years, so ideally you’ll find one that works well and looks good, too.
Design and Safety
Durrett points to a few design elements that are crucial when it comes to a good changing table: “A flat, wide, and stable surface; storage, so you can access wipes, diapers, and creams easily while keeping your eye on the squirming babe; and rail guards.” A changing table mattress should have contoured sides to help keep your baby in place. HealthyChildren.org recommends a 2-inch guardrail around all four sides of the table and a safety strap, which is sometimes part of the changing pad or mattress rather than the table itself. But they caution that while you should use the safety strap, “don’t depend on it alone to keep your child secure.” You should always have a hand on your baby when changing them, so wipes and diapers should be within reach. If you have questions about safety, talk to your pediatrician.
With dressers and small children, one safety concern is a piece tipping over. Oeuf’s dresser, featured above, has anti-tipping hardware and a back panel that’s counterweighted for added safety. A lot of nursery furniture will come with mounting hardware to anchor the dresser to the wall and prevent any sort of tipping accident. You can learn more about anchoring furniture here.
Drawers vs. Open Shelving
When designing her daughters’ nurseries, Willkie went with drawers instead of open shelving. “You can continue to use the piece as a dresser once the child is potty trained, and in the meantime, it allows you to get them dressed and changed on the same mat you are otherwise using for diaper changes,” she says. “Much as I adore teeny baby clothes, they are definitely better stored in drawers than on open shelves!”
Durrett calls the convertible changing table/dressers genius and loves that they go from changing table to the dresser and then “can be put back to work as a changing table if you decide to have more children.” But she’s also a fan of open shelving and has found that with dressers, “the more drawers, the more clutter.” As for repurposing a changing table with open shelving, she recommends using it to store kids’ toys and books as they grow. Baskets are a great way to streamline storage with open shelving models.
Q: Can I change my baby on the floor?
Yes! And the roll-off risk is nonexistent with floor changings. But changing a baby at waist height can be more comfortable, and it’s nice to have all your supplies in one spot. For floor changing, grab a changing pad or a low basket of some sort. For the most minimal footprint, try this great fold-and-go option. For a basket, look at Design Dua’s handwoven changing basket or Olli Ella’s version with a matching liner. The Keekaroo Peanut Changer is a registry favorite at Buy Buy Baby, and it works on the floor or on a changing table.
Q: Should I let my baby fall asleep on a changing table?
No. Your baby should never be left unattended on a changing table. You should have a hand on your baby at all times when they’re on the changing table, which means diapers, diaper cream, and wipes should all be within easy reach.
Q: What is the ideal height of a changing table?
Changing table height tends to be between 28 and 32 inches. If you are mounting one to the wall, keep in mind that the guardrails will raise the height you need to reach over, and a changing mattress or pad might also raise your baby an inch or so.
Q: What should I use for disposing of dirty diapers?
Parents and experts love the Ubbi diaper pail. It’s easy to open and close, locks odor in, and looks pretty good for a garbage pail. There are a bunch of color options, including white, sage green, blush, blue, and gray. Conveniently you can use it with regular trash bags, so there’s no need to stock up on specialty bags (or have to remember to reorder) during those sleep-deprived newborn days.
The Last Word
When people mention missing the baby years once their child has grown up, they’re probably not talking about endless diaper changes. But the right changing table can make it a bit more bearable, and a small dose of style goes a long way. “As a new parent, you’re also going to be spending time in your little one’s nursery, so create a space that you enjoy,” Durrett advises. “Make it reflective of your style, as it should be a sanctuary for you, too.”