Changing Table Basics: What You Really Need at Your Fingertips

Nesting on 12.20.11
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Photo Credit: LizMarie_AK/Creative Commons

Getting a nursery ready for your new arrival is fun, stressful, exciting and expensive all rolled into one giant emotion. I have several friends preparing to welcome their first child soon and have been talking a lot about what you need (and don't need) in your nursery, particularly the place you spend a lot quality of time: the changing table.

There are a few basics I now know you need and lessons learned over the last few months I wanted to share:

Diapers & Wipes (Obviously)
Make them convenient. Mine are in a drawer directly under the changing pad, so I'm able to store about 100 diapers and a refill of wipes at my fingertips. A wipe warmer, although nice, is not necessary and honestly your baby doesn't care.

Waterproof pad
That cute changing pad cover is really only for show when company comes over and wants to "ooh and ahh" over the nursery. When in actual use, you need to protect that pad and make it easy to change with one hand given the watery accidents that will occur. We use an extra plastic changing pad that came with a diaper bag with blankets we brought home from the hospital on top. This way, you can change the blanket quickly, sanitize the pad and preserve that precious polka-dot Pottery Barn changing pad cover. 

Diaper Rash Cream
Unless your little one has a severe case of diaper rash, any brand with the key ingredient zinc oxide should do the trick. Desitin and Boudreaux's Butt Paste  are the top ones I've used and actually received four tubes as shower gifts. In a severe case, one friend mixed a potion (under the advice of her pediatrician) of half Sensicare and half Lotramine AF to concoct a soothing ointment for her baby's bottom. Whether your rash is extreme or not, every baby has redness down there at some point, so keep some close by.

Nose Sucker
Babies can't blow their noses, and they have a lot of snot that it is your responsibility to suck out. The hospital will give you one of the blue bulb syringes when you leave, but if that doesn't work there's also a gadget that works pretty well called a Nosefrida The Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator. It's about $15 and worth every penny if your baby gets stopped up easily.

Infant Tylenol
I gave my first dose after my daughter's first shots at one-month-old. You can't use ibuprofen until he or she is six months old, so have a bottle of infant Tylenol handy and know your baby's correct dosage. The best place to administer a dose is on the changing table where baby is laying down and the most medicine is likely to get into his or her little mouth and go down. If you're breastfeeding and have to supplement with Vitamin D, this is also a good place to give it.

Hand Sanitizer
You need the pump and the bigger the better. Ideally, you would have a sink right next to the changing station so you could actually wash your hands, but since most nurseries don't have plumbing, a big bottle of Purell will work.

Lotion
Pick your favorite lotion and keep it close by to lather on after bath time. Or, after your hands become super dry from all the hand sanitizer. A pediatrician favorite that's kind of a hybrid of lotion and ointment is Aquaphor. It heals all scratches, dry skin, baby acne and other skin irritations.

Stock up on your favorite items so you always have a backup handy - you can set up recurring orders on Amazon and get all these things delivered to your doorstep at a discount. Keep your changing table as clutter-free as possible to make things easy to find. And, remember, even though there is poo and pee involved, time at the changing table is quality time with your baby, so try to enjoy every last second.

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