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The secret is that your diaper changing location doesn't need to be it's own thing. It could be the top of a dresser, on which you put your travel changing pad. It could be a pad on a bed. It could be the floor (no one has fallen off the floor yet!). It doesn't need a wipe-warmer, or a special curved pad. And you don't need a fancy diaper-only garbage can. It's helpful to have a changing station in your home so diaper changes can happen quickly, and as long as it has the basics, you're good: a pail for diapers (either a wet pail for cloth, or a garbage pail with a lid for disposables/wipes, a stack of diapers, some wipes, and a surface for baby.
Foam changing pads are usually made from polyurethane, and may contain flame retardants or other harmful additives. Composite wood changing tables may contain formaldehyde. Wood finishes, including paints, can contain solvents and volatile organic compounds.
When choosing your changing location, take into account who will be changing the baby, and if you need a place above the floor, make sure all wipes, diapers, and garbage are in easy reach so the parent or other caregiver can keep a hand on your baby.
Save money and waste by choosing a location that will have a later function, like selecting a dresser that is a good height for changes but will be the baby's as they grow.
When shopping for nontoxic baby furniture, it’s important to select nursery furniture manufactured from solid wood because you don’t want furniture that’s made with glues, formaldehyde, and veneers. Look for real wood (not engineered wood, composite board, or particle board) without smelly, toxic glues and chemicals. A used, solid wood dresser (as long as it does not have leaded paint) can be a great option on a budget - and can always be painted by someone other than the pregnant mom-to-be to match your room.
References & Resources
Learn more about the hidden hazards by reviewing the glossary or take a deep dive by reading Safer Products for Babies and Toddlers: Resources and Recommendations for Retailers.