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Essentials for Diaper Changing Stations

You can't escape dirty diapers, but you can make diaper duty easier with the right setup and supplies. Here's what you need to make your changing station safe, functional, and baby-friendly.

In the first few months of her life, your pipsqueak will be a perpetual pee-er and pooper, keeping you on active diaper duty. The best way to prepare for the nearly constant diaper changes:

Set up a strategically stocked changing station. Whether it's a stand-alone changing table or a dresser or desk, the surface should be at least 36" to 43" above the floor so you won't have to hunch while you do the diaper deed (your back will thank you). And be sure the legs are really sturdy – you're going to have one squirmy worm up there, so stability is a must. Another key to a smart changing station is plenty of storage space (shelves, drawers, or baskets all work well). As for the changing pad, contoured or flat is fine, preferably with a safety strap that fastens around your babe like a belt.

Now you're ready to stock your changing station with these everyday essentials:

Diapers.

Well, duh...but here's a good tip: If you're using disposables, take them out of the plastic packaging and stack them neatly so you're not scrambling to open the bag when you've got a wee wiggler on the table.

Wipes.

You'll go through these quickly, so buy in bulk (purchase the box once, then opt for low-packaging refills) and always have plenty within arm's reach at your changing station.

Creams.

Buy a basic diaper ointment and something more heavy-duty in case your critter gets a diaper rash (and, poor babies, most do). You can also stock up on (hypoallergenic, fragrance-free) moisturizers to use on the restof your baby's body or eczema creams, should your child need them.

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Pacifiers and other soothers.

Be prepared for protests at the changing station with distractions (like a board book or a colorful rattle or toy) and a binky (best to have two or three close at hand at all times).

Extra changing-pad cover.

While you won't need it every time, it's wise to have a backup waterproof cover at the ready in case the one you're using gets showered upon or soiled beyond saving.

A diaper pail.

Wherever it is that dirty diapers go to die in your house (an odor-sealing contraption especially for nappies or a regular ole trash can), place yours nearby so you don't have to leave your little one to dispose of the evidence, even for a second. Foot-pedal trash cans are best because you can keep both hands on your wriggler at all times.

Snap-close bodysuits.

Have a couple pairs of cozy, easy-on pajamas stored at your changing station in case the original outfit gets messy (and it will sometimes).

Hand sanitizer.

Hand washing is the preferable practice, but not so practical at the changing station. However, a squirt of hand sanitizer before and after the changing is a quick fix until your next trip to the bathroom. (Keep the sanitizer well out of reach of your little one – it contains alcohol.)

First-aid kit and nail clippers.

The changing station is also the perfect place to take care of some other basic baby business, from nail-clipping to temperature-taking to giving your tot a dose of (messy) medicine.

for more pregnancy and parenting information,

visit WhatToExpect.com