Changing table buying guide

Changing table buying guide

Pauline, Self-taught DIYer, Leeds

Guide written by:

Pauline, Self-taught DIYer, Leeds

A changing table is one of the key items to purchase when preparing for baby's arrival. Whether you're after a basic or multifunctional model made of wood or plastic, you're sure to find a changing table to fit your style. From picking the right size to safety standards, read on to find the perfect changing table.

Important features

  • Materials
  • Stationary or portable
  • Standards
  • Size
  • Basic or multipurpose
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Changing tables: the basics

Designed to help you change and clean small babies and toddlers, changing tables allow you to keep your baby healthy and safe – without straining your back! Before you settle on a changing table, it's important to check out all the height and design options so you're sure to make the best decision. In fact, there may be a substantial difference in height between tables with models ranging from 84 cm to 92 cm tall.

Changing tables also come in a variety of different configurations from basic changing tables to combined models connected to chests of drawers or baths. You may even be able to wheel your changing table around. Your choice will ultimately depend on the space available in your home and your routine.

Baby changing units must comply with British standard BS EN 12221:2008 which guarantees the product has been tested to various safety requirements. That said, it's still important to check the screws on a regular basis to make sure they have not loosened. Changing tables can be supplied with changing equipment or sold as a single unit without a changing mat or any accessories so be sure to check this before purchase.

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Changing tables

What is a changing table for?

Of course changing tables are used to change babies and toddlers but they can be used for a few other purposes. Here are the main ways in which a changing table comes in handy:

  • changing nappies;

  • providing healthcare such as nasal cleansing and applying creams;

  • dressing/undressing newborns.

As these actions are normally carried out as your baby is waking up, it's a good idea to place an age-appropriate mobile above the table.

Different types of changing table

Changing table designs

Changing tables and units are all designed for the same basic purpose but they can vary in design. Below are some of the most popular options:

  • traditional changing tables on legs;

  • changing table units with storage;

  • changing tables with in-built baths;

  • portable changing tables (on wheels);

  • wall-mounted changing tables.

It's important to think practically about your requirements in terms of storage capacity and access to changing equipment. You'll also have to consider any accessories you've purchased separately – will they be compatible with the changing table? Lastly, think carefully about the width and height of the unit to make sure it will accommodate your changing mat (the size of which will also vary!).

In terms of accessories, you'll have to think about the amount of free space you have. To make the most of your storage space, we recommend adding large baskets which will prove easier than boxes to pull out every day.

Changing table materials

When it comes to style, you'll probably want to match your changing table to your nursery or the space you've set aside in your own room. Changing tables come in all materials from unfinished or painted wood to coloured plastic. They may be patterned or painted in one colour or may even feature decorative mouldings or carvings. Wooden changing tables might be more expensive but they will stand the test of time provided the material is coated with a non-toxic and hard-wearing varnish.

Remember: all surfaces can be cleaned without the use of harsh cleaning agents and this is particularly important when it comes to baby equipment. Instead, you can use things like soapy water or baking soda to clean your changing table.

Comparing baby changing tables

Type of furniture




Recommended for small nurseries


Traditional changing table

Good storage capacity.

Often has shelves.

Can accommodate baskets.



Yes, allows room for surrounding furniture.

Tends to have a narrow changing area.

Changing table with wheels

Often has shelves.

Decent storage capacity.

Closed storage boxes recommended so contents don't fall out when table is moved.


Yes (castors)

Yes, can be moved around as required.

Usually made of plastic (not as sturdy as wood).

Baby bath changing table

Often less storage than other options.



Perfect if you don't have a bathtub.

Very useful for newborns.

Baby will grow out of the table quickly.

Wall-mounted changing table

Smaller storage compartments.



Yes, folds away to free up space. Can be used a desk.

May be less sturdy than freestanding models.

Changing unit

Wide surface.

Easy access to drawers.

Large storage capacity.

Very good


Yes, two pieces of furniture combined.

High initial cost and not easy to adapt after baby outgrows it.

Setting up a changing table or unit

It is essential to pick a changing table that matches the height of its users. You will want to avoid having to  lean too far forward when using the table to save your back.

Where to install a changing table

Obviously you'll have to think of the layout of the room but here are three tips to help you find the right spot for your changing table or unit:

  • changing tables are usually rectangular so setting your table or unit up in the corner of a room should help to make the most of your space;

  • similarly, it's usually safest to install your changing table against a wall;

  • don't set up the changing table too close to any other furniture to ensure your baby isn't able to grab anything while you're changing.

Changing table safety

Most changing tables will require some assembly. To ensure the safety of your child, you must be confident in your DIY abilities and use the correct tools for assembly.

If you have a portable changing table, the castors must be locked while the table is in use.

Here are a few more handy tips:

  • set up your changing table at least one month before baby's arrival so it has the chance to air out and release any volatile organic compounds;

  • always prepare your equipment before setting baby on the changing table;

  • do not place any potentially dangerous objects near the changing table;

  • if you need to look for something on the shelves beneath the table, always keep one hand on your child's body to prevent them rolling over.

In conclusion, your changing table or unit is must meets all your practical requirements in terms of storage. However, baby furniture must always comply to the relevant standards and this is non-negotiable. The style of the changing table is therefore secondary. Remember: safety first!

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Guide written by:

Pauline, Self-taught DIYer, Leeds

Pauline, Self-taught DIYer, Leeds

With a handyman-father, I grew up with the soft sound of the sander and hammer on weekends. I am both manual and cerebral, I learned the basics of DIY and the customisation of furniture because I was passionate. The salvage mentality is a true way of life that allowed me to know how to use all the tools and products needed to give something a second life, from a sander to varnish. I have two favourite activities: the transformation of old furniture and decoration tips. I am always ready to lend a helping hand to revamp a table or to restore a mirror that was intended for the tip that will become a friend’s centrepiece. I’m convinced that it’s possible to reinvent an interior by small, regular modifications and I constantly research low-cost ideas.

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