It’s a fact: your baby is going to outgrow every bit of that shiny new gear sitting in the nursery, and the changing table is no exception. It’ll happen sooner than you think, but when should you stop using it? And what do you do once it’s gone?
The age at which babies outgrow their changing tables is determined by their weight and activity level. However, every manufacturer sets a maximum weight and age for their products. Check your table for specific recommendations, and do not use the table past that limit.
Short of the manufacturer’s limit, when to stop using the changing table presents something of a judgment call–one of a seemingly infinite number you’ll have to make as a parent. Read on for ways to help you make the decision.
When Do Babies Outgrow Changing Tables?
Your baby will inevitably outgrow their changing table. The manufacturer’s guidelines will give you an absolute limit, though many parents choose to stop using it earlier.
Babies outgrow changing tables when they reach the age or weight limit set by the manufacturer–usually age 2 or 30 lbs (13.61 kg). If your baby is active, you may decide to stop using the table sooner. A foldable mat makes diaper changes more convenient when your baby outgrows their table.
If your baby hasn’t reached the table’s weight limit yet, how can you tell if it’s still safe to use for your baby?
Changing Table Safety Tips
Some babies are content to remain still for diaper changes. Others seem to take joy in thrashing like eels as you attempt to remove a messy diaper with one hand and prevent them from hurling themselves over the side with the other.
If your baby is under the age or weight limit set by the table’s manufacturer, it’s safe to keep using it as long as the baby stays still during diaper changes. However, if your baby is wiggly, you may need to find a new place for diaper changes even before they reach the table’s stated limit.
Even if your child isn’t extremely active, here are a few other questions to help you determine whether it’s safe to keep using the table:
- Can your baby reach the supplies? Many changing tables have a section on one end to hold wipes, creams, and extra diapers. If your baby is big enough to reach into that space, it might be time to retire the table. At best, you’ll be cleaning up (another) mess. At worst, they could ingest something that could be dangerous.
- Can your baby grab other nearby objects? Changing tables, like most furniture, are usually placed along walls rather than in the center of a room. If your baby can get a grip on curtains, wall art, or other nearby objects and potentially yank them onto themselves, it’s probably time to stop using the table.
- Does the table itself still feel sturdy? Many parents quite understandably seek out hand-me-down baby items rather than purchasing new ones. If your changing table has been through several homes before making it to yours, its actual weight limit might be lower than the manufacturer’s guidelines suggest. If the table wobbles or creaks, check it thoroughly for wear before continuing to use it.
Do I Need To Use a Changing Table?
You do not need to use a changing table, but it can be helpful in various ways. When deciding, you should consider your baby’s safety, the table’s accessibility, diaper storage needs, and your own convenience. Whether or not to use a changing table comes down to personal preference.
Many new parents like the feeling of routine and organization a changing table offers, especially during the chaos and uncertainty of the newborn phase. As they become more confident, however, some may decide that having to go to a specific place every time they need to change a diaper is inconvenient.
It’s easy to become so accustomed to doing something a certain way that we don’t notice that it’s no longer working. If you’re tired of using the table, or if your baby has gotten big enough that it’s awkward–even if it’s still technically safe–then you should feel free to stop using the table and start changing your baby somewhere else.
What Should I Use Instead of a Changing Table?
Some parents like having a dedicated place to change diapers and store supplies. Others, especially those with limited space and/or funds, choose not to have a changing table at all. Instead, they may rely on a foldable changing mat and a caddy full of supplies.
If your home has multiple levels, you might find it convenient to keep such a stash on each floor–no more trudging up and down the stairs a dozen extra times per day to change diapers.
Instead of using a changing table, having a foldable mat and a portable caddy of diaper changing supplies opens up a world of possibilities. You can spread the mat on the floor, a bed, or any other flat surface, and having your supplies in a caddy makes it easy to move them to where you need them.