Changing Table vs Dresser With Changing Pad

baby on a changing table

Yesterday I sold my daughter’s dresser which also came with a changing table and pad.  It was a great piece of nursery furniture, well built and made from solid oak hardwood. My wife and I thought we would use it for a long time just as a dresser, but we need to install a new wardrobe instead to maximise the space in my daughter’s room. So are changing tables a worthwhile purchase?

In this article, let’s compare the pros and cons of changing tables, as well as dressers which come with or without a changing table on top. Which option is best for you?

What’s the difference between a changing table and a dresser with changing pad?

The main difference is really the storage. A changing table will likely have easy access storage underneath so you can quickly grab items as you need. A dresser will have drawers for storing items in, which you can use for clothes as well as baby accessories. Changing tables can be free standing, but you can also get fold up ones.

On top, a changing table will have raised sides to prevent your baby from falling off, whereas with a dresser, you’ll need a changing pad with raised sides. You can also get dressers which have a proper changing table on top, which you can lift off once your child no longer needs it, and just use it as a chest of drawers (this is what we had in our home).

Our old dresser which had a changing table on top

What are the pros and cons of changing tables?

Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of changing tables.


  • Convenient. Changing tables are set at a convenient height for you to change your baby so you won’t have to put any strain on your back.
  • Solid, sturdy and safe. Changing tables often have side rails to stop your baby from rolling off. They are well-built and sturdy to take the weight of your baby.
  • Easy access to items. You can easily store diapers, creams, diaper bags and other accessories under the changing table.


  • Expensive. A well-designed changing table will set you back a few dollars.
  • Longevity. Once your baby reaches the maximum weight limit of the changing table, it becomes redundant so you either need to sell it, or pack it away if you’re planning on having a second child in the future.
  • Bulky. Changing tables do take up quite a bit of space. This can be a problem if your baby’s room is quite small and you need to utilize every spare inch for storing toys, clothes and accessories as well as all the essential baby items such as a crib.
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How long do you use a changing table?

You need to stop using a changing table once your baby reaches the maximum age or weight limit recommended by the manufacturer. This is typically about age 2 or around 30lbs.

Are changing tables dangerous?

They aren’t dangerous if you use them correctly. However, on average around 3,000 babies are injured in changing table accidents every year. You have to remember that your baby is off the floor, so you have to be on your guard at all times. An active baby can roll over if you take your eyes off her for just a few seconds. Guard rails certainly significantly reduce this risk, but it’s certainly not infallible.

How do you stop a baby rolling off the changing table? 

Ensure you pick a changing table with barriers on all four sides. Furthermore, use the safety straps on the changing pad to prevent your baby from squirming too much and rolling over.

Can a newborn sleep on a changing table?

Absolutely not. You should never leave your baby unattended on a changing table, even for a short time, so sleeping is totally out of the question. If it’s nearing your baby’s nap time, just give them a diaper change (if they need one), a feed and put them in their bassinet or crib.

Where is the safest place to put a changing table?

It’s best to place your changing table near your baby’s crib. That way, you can change them with easy access to diapers and other accessories, and then place them down for a nap.

How tall should a changing table be?

Most changing tables are around 36” to 43” tall, which should be comfortable for most people to do a diaper change without hurting your back!

What should you consider when buying a changing table?

Here are some key considerations for choosing a changing table:


Check the safety straps on the changing pad carefully and make sure there are barriers on all four sides. The changing table should meet ASTM safety standards.


Make sure you can easily access the essential items. You don’t want to be holding your baby with one arm on the table, desperately searching for some nappy cream on a lower shelf with your other hand. It should be as convenient as possible. Most changing tables have open shelves, but some come with drawers. Consider what is best for you.


Considering most changing tables are around 36” to 43” tall, pick something which will be comfortable based on your height. Obviously, if you’re a lot taller than average, pick something closer to 42” or 43”. You might want to check this in the store by bending over the table to check how comfortable it will be. 36” is usually ok for most people.

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Is it safe to use a dresser as a changing table?

Dressers are safe to use as a changing table if you use them carefully and with due diligence. Some dressers come with a removable changing table on top which will have raised sides. However, if you’re using an ordinary dresser, make sure you buy a contoured changing pad which comes with safety straps. Depending on how smooth the finish is on the dresser, you might want to put a mat underneath to stop the pad from sliding around too much.

What are the pros and cons of dressers with changing pads?

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of dressers which can be used with a changing pad, or changing table and pad on top.


  • More storage. With all the drawers which come with the dresser you have a lot of storage for baby clothes, accessories and other items
  • Longevity. Once your baby has outgrown the need for a changing table or pad, you can just remove it from the top of the dresser and use it as a standard chest of drawers for years.
  • Take the pad with you. If you’re using a changing pad with curved sides, you can take it with you if you’re visiting friends, relatives or planning a trip away.
  • Sturdy and solid. If you buy a well-built dresser, it will be strong and sturdy
  • Good value for money. As you can use a dresser for many years, it presents better value than a changing table.


  • Safety. Even with the curved sides on a changing pad, it’s not as secure as a changing table with raised sides.
  • Not as easy to access baby accessories. Although dressers have a lot of storage, when you’re changing your baby in a hurry, it’s not as convenient to rummage through drawers trying to find something.
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What should you consider when buying a dresser with a changing pad? 

Here are some things to consider if you’re buying an ordinary dresser, or one with a changing table on top.

Changing pad vs changing table and pad

You can get an ordinary dresser and just buy a contoured changing pad, or you can get a dresser which has a built in changing table on top (which you can usually detach and remove) Decide which option is best for you?


For ordinary dressers, make sure you buy a changing pad which has raised sides and comes with a strap. If it comes with a changing table with raised sides, you can buy just an ordinary changing pad.

Storage and size

Storage is the biggest plus of a dresser over an ordinary changing table. However, with different dressers come different designs and sizes. Pick one which is at a comfortable height for changing your baby (around 36” for most people) along with the right number of drawers for you to conveniently store all the baby items.

Which option should you go for?

It all depends on your budget and the space you have in your baby’s room. If space is at a premium, but you have the money, then a dresser is a good option as you’ll have more storage. However, while a changing table is more convenient for diaper changes, you need to be prepared to get rid of it after a couple of years, unless you can find some other use for it.

changing table vs dresser with changing pad
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