Let's face it: when it comes to Baby's diaper changing station, a lot goes down on that surface. A lot. So it pays to be as prepared as possible, right? We called on experts (aka moms) for their secrets to being lean, mean, diaper-changing machines.
Get Storage, And Lots Of It
"I bought a basic changing table with no organization to it, and I hate how untidy it gets," says Emily Guy Birken, a mom of one in, Lafayette, Indiana, who blogs at The SAHMnambulist . "It's also difficult to corral a squirming child while reaching for a new package of wipes on a bottom shelf. It's so worth it to buy a dresser with shelves that serves as a changing table and that can be used as a bookcase or dresser later on."
Whatever you use as a changing station, you want your baby to stay on it. Newborns might peacefully lie there, letting you have your way with a diaper, but they get wiggly as they get older. "Make sure there's a safety belt on the table or changing pad," says Kelly Wels, a mom of three in Waterford, Maine, and author of Changing Diapers: The Hip Mom's Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering. "You also want a changing pad that's concave, so the middle is lower than its sides—like a valley—to keep the baby secure."
It's All About Location"Keep your changing station out of reach of electrical outlets, window blinds, lamps, cords, and shelves," notes Julia Clark, a mom of three in Melbourne, Florida, who blogs at The Cloth Diaper Geek. "As babies learn to grab, they go for whatever they can reach during changes, and you don't want that to be heavy books or a long cord that they can wrap around themselves. My baby once grabbed a bottle of baby powder and dumped some on his face! He was fine but it was a good lesson to be careful."
Be a Stock Girl
A no-brainer, but one that zonked moms forget: have diapers handy. It helps to make a set time to re-stock the changing station (say, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, while Baby's napping). You will not want to scrounge around for diapers when you're facing a mess.
Also Get Ready for the Next Big Thing
"At the end of one diaper change, put another diaper out on the pad. It'll be one less thing to think about!" says Wels. Keeping two or three changes of clothing at hand is also a good plan; the worst of blowouts usually happen when you're least prepared (that's known as Baby Murphy's Law).
Decorate for Distraction
Imagine you're a baby: bare-bummed, laying on a table, staring at the ceiling. You'd get bored pretty quickly, right? (OK, scratch that—these days you'd probably appreciate lying around and staring at a ceiling.) Have small, easily-cleanable toys handy to entertain Baby as you do diaper duty. "If you hang a black-and-white mobile over the changing table—newborns love black and white, and older babies love the motion—it can keep your baby occupied," Wels says. Just be sure the mobile is installed safely.
It's In the Bag
No matter what kind of super-sonic diaper pail you get, most eventually get stinky. Disposable diaper bags are your friend; they're slightly scented and once you drop in the dirty diaper and pop it into the pail, the smell dissipates. You can even buy eco-friendly sacks. (Just make sure they are compatible with your diaper pail.)
Keep a Camera Handy
Someday, you will find it hard to believe you ever had a child who fit on top of a changing pad. Have your partner photograph and video those priceless changing station moments: your little one giggling as you dangle a toy, the delicious rolls in his thighs, the silly raspberries he blows over and over again to his own delight. You'll cherish the memories—and the fact you can share them with his high-school buddies. (Ha!)