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Baby on a budget: Changing table alternatives

Sarah Walker Caron is an award winning journalist, freelance writer and editor. She lives a happy life in Maine with her two children, where they love to hike, visit the beaches and have lots of silly fun. Check out her food blog at Sara...

Do you need a changing table?

Do you need a changing table for baby or are there less expensive options for baby's nursery? Your mom, his mom and all of your friends are probably filling your head with the things you simply must have for baby. But do you really need to get a changing table? Real moms dish on why (and why not) to get one.

Do you need a changing table?News flash: when you have a baby, you change a lot of diapers. But where do you change those diapers? That's a question that can draw a lot of very passionate opinions from family and friends. But before you rush out and buy a changing table because the soon-to-be grandma said that you must, read what parents have to say.

An absolute must

Moms and Dads who loved their changing tables are advocates for the usefulness of the tables. Changing tables don't just come in flimsy stick-built versions, there are some with dresser components and others that attach to cribs.

"I purchased a changing table a few months before my first child was born. My next door neighbor laughed about it and said I'd never use it and that I should take it back and get my money back. I am so glad I did not take his advice," said Jean Louis of JeanLouisPhotography.com. "I am an older mom with occasional back issues – I was 39 when I had my first child. The changing table was the perfect height so I did not strain my back. The few times I used the couch or the floor killed my back. We put the changing table in our home office which is a central location in the house instead of back in the nursery that would have been less convenient."

Changing tables offer a special space for face to face bonding as well. "I have three children, and can't imagine not having had a changing table. ...Having used the changing table so much, my husband says he has great memories of wonderful face-to-face 'conversations' with each infant. When we no longer needed the table, we used it for years as a very handy book-and-toy shelf either in the baby's room or the playroom," says Pam Waterman of BracesCookbook.com.

Not necessary

If you are space crunched then a changing table might not be so practical.

"Changing tables occupy valuable real estate in the home. And to be honest after the initial few weeks of having the baby home, you just use a changing pad and get down to changing the baby in whichever part of the home you are," says Dhana Pawar, co-founder of Yojo Mobile. "Moreover as the baby gets older and bigger, its harder to control them during diaper changing sessions. Having them lie on a changing table just seems more dangerous, as they squirm, twist and turn like crazy...increasing the possibility of a fall!"

Even if you have more space in a two-story house, then a changing table might be a useless piece of furniture, some say.

"My homes have always been two stories, with the children's rooms upstairs. It never made sense to me to constantly run up and down steps to change a diaper," said Julie McWherter Creative Director of prettySMART!

Alternatives to changing tables

Alright, so you think you need something but aren't sure that a changing table is right for you. What then? There are plenty of alternatives to the standard, traditional changing table.

Changing pads can be purchased at baby supply stories like Baby Depot or Babies R Us and can be used on any flat surface, giving a sanitary spot for diaper changes.

For a raised surface, some parents opt to use a dresser or even a desk with a changing pad on top. Not only can it be close to the right height, but it also can have life beyond the diaper years. "I got a dresser that had the changing table on the top of it and LOVED it – worked well for storage without it all showing as the dresser had drawers and a little cabinet. Used it for my second daughter then as a changing table and now it is my youngest daughter's dresser in her room – worked perfect," said Kate Burch.

Other moms suggest creating a changing pack to carry from location to location. "I purchased a small, decorative, hinged box with a handle -similar to an older style travel luggage piece. Inside I'd pack diapers, wipes, a waterproof, washable, changing mat, and any other diapering necessities. Once my baby was ready for the morning, we'd come downstairs, bringing the box with us, and I'd tuck the box under the side table in the living room. Whenever I needed to change a diaper, I'd pull out the box, lay the changing mat on the couch beside me, and have all my necessities with in reach. If company was over, I could easily grab the box and head into the master bedroom or other side room, knowing I had everything I needed," said McWherter.

What do you think? Is a changing table a must? Comment below!

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