Updated January 2022
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Buying guide for best baby changing pads

As tiny as they are, babies go through an astounding number of diapers. In fact, you can expect to change around 2,500 diapers within the first year of welcoming your nugget into the world. While nobody looks forward to diaper duty, the right tools can make the job a little easier. Baby changing pads provide a dedicated spot for messy cleanups while keeping wriggling babies safe and tiny tushies comfortable. If the thought of fewer spills, less laundry, and reduced diaper-changing stress appeals to you, it's time to add a changing pad to your list of must-have baby essentials. But with hundreds of baby changing pads to choose from, where do you start?

If you need some assistance navigating the world of baby changing pads, you've come to the right place. Read on for everything you need to know about choosing the best baby changing pad for your bundle of joy. When you're done, don't forget to check out our top picks.

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Changing pad dimensions vary. For a proper fit, measure the size of your changing table or dresser before you buy.

Types of baby changing pads

While some baby changing pads are intended specifically for at-home use, others make great travel companions. Let's take a closer look at the four most common types of baby changing pads.

Standard changing pad

A vital accessory to any changing table, the standard changing pad resembles a mini mattress with raised edges. This design is intended to boost safety and improve comfort. While a traditional foam changing pad is best paired with a waterproof changing pad cover, some changing pads are made with solid waterproof materials that can simply be wiped down.

Travel changing pads

Just about everyone is familiar with these utilitarian changing pads. In fact, most diaper bags come complete with a travel changing pad for on-the-go changing convenience. Flat and foldable, a travel changing pad can easily be stuffed into a diaper bag, wet bag, or even a handbag. Although these “mats” are basic and don't generally provide much cushioning, they deliver a clean surface for diaper changes when you're away from home.

Portable diaper changing kits

If you like to travel light or simply don't relish the thought of lugging a bulky diaper bag around on quick trips to the store or park, a portable diaper changing kit could very well become your new best friend. These innovative changing pads feature a fold-out design with pockets for diaper changing essentials, and some even come with cushioning for your little one’s head. Many resemble a trendy clutch purse when folded, so there’s no need to sacrifice style for functionality.

Disposable changing pads

Do you ever have days when the prospect of having to wash, wipe, or clean one more item is enough to send you running for the hills? Well, you're certainly not alone! Every parent needs a break sometimes, and the use-and-toss design of disposable changing pads offers just that. Lightweight and compact, these changing pads will fit into any bag. They come in multipacks, and most are highly affordable.

Considerations when choosing a baby changing pad


Babies grow at an astonishing rate. Unless you don't mind having to upgrade your changing pad after only a few months, it's worth looking for a model that will grow with your baby — just remember to check whether the dimensions fit your changing table. Extra size is especially important when choosing a changing pad for on-the-go use. When you're out and about, finding a clean place to change your tot’s diaper can be a challenge. A changing pad with generous dimensions eliminates the possibility of your baby coming into contact with dodgy surfaces that may harbor nasty germs and bacteria.


Standard changing pads for home use tend to be reasonably soft and comfortable. However, certain models have specialized surfaces that are designed to be easy to clean and combat bacterial growth. If you live in a cooler climate, consider placing a layer of fabric between your baby and the changing pad to improve comfort.

Travel changing pads and diaper changing kits, on the other hand, often have varying levels of comfort. Some high-end travel changing pads feature a thin layer of memory foam encased in waterproof material to boost comfort on hard surfaces, while certain portable diaper changing kits offer a padded headrest.


As a new parent, chances are you already have your hands full just taking care of your tiny human. A changing pad that’s easy to clean can help lighten your load. If possible, look for a changing pad that can quickly be wiped down between changes, or place a water-resistant changing pad cover on a foam changing pad to keep it from becoming soaked or stained.

Water resistance

Leaks and spills go hand in hand with diapering, and every parent is bound to fall victim to an unexpected shower during an unfortunately timed diaper change at some point. Indeed, diapering is a dirty business, and your changing pad needs to be equipped to resist moisture. Fluid that seeps through the outer layer of a changing pad could create a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. As such, choosing a model with a water-resistant exterior is a wise decision. Keep in mind that water resistance levels can vary from pad to pad, and some varieties might require an additional cover.

Contoured sides

Standard changing pads for home use generally have raised edges to help keep little ones from rolling off. While some models only have a slight slope, others have deeper contours that provide a bit of extra safety. Regardless of the depth of the sides, babies should never be left unattended on a changing table or any other raised surface. Even if your tot isn't mobile yet, remember that babies often develop new skills seemingly overnight, and it only takes a split second for an accident to occur.

Safety straps

Babies can be wriggly little nippers and, come diaper changing time, many seem to suddenly acquire superhuman strength. A standard baby changing pad with safety straps can reduce your stress by helping hold your baby in place while you take care of business.

Non-slip base

Between the kicking, wriggling, and attempted escapes, a changing pad placed on a hard surface can be prone to shifting and sliding. Juggling a dirty diaper and an active baby while trying to hold a changing pad in place is no easy feat. Baby changing pads with rubberized non-slip bases provide traction that can reduce or, in some cases, entirely eliminate this anxiety-inducing issue.

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Did you know?
Four-sided changing pads can offer extra security, while models with open ends provide more room for growth.

Baby changing pad prices

Depending on the type of baby changing pad you need and, of course, its quality and feature set, you can expect to pay anywhere between $10 and $110. While portable and disposable changing pads are relatively affordable, standard changing pads for long-term use understandably cost a bit more.


For on-the-go use, you’ll discover a range of options priced from $10 to $15. Travel changing pads, disposables, and compact diaper changing kits are all available within this price bracket.


A standard changing pad for at-home-use, a quality travel pad, a large pack of disposables, or a feature-rich diaper changing kit with extra padding and storage can cost anywhere from $15 to $30.


When only the best will do, changing pads priced between $30 and $110 are bound to deliver the quality you desire. Whether you’re looking for convenience, comfort, or versatility, high-end changing pads typically offer additional features that are worth paying a little extra for.

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For your safety
A baby changing pad with an antimicrobial shell can help prevent the growth of germs and bacteria.


  • Be prepared. Before tackling that dirty diaper, make sure you have everything you need at your fingertips. Take out wipes, creams, a clean diaper, and an extra change of clothes — minor blow-outs and leaks aren't always visible from the outside.
  • Offer distractions. Keep a couple of special “diaper-changing toys” on hand to keep your baby busy. Kicking, wriggling, and flailing can cause an incredible mess. Even if you only gain a few seconds, distracting your baby could save you from a diaper-changing disaster.
  • Wipe down hands and feet. Many babies put up a fight when changing time rolls around. Unfortunately, tiny hands and feet often end up right in the thick of things. Be sure to check for any messes, and wipe or wash your baby’s hands and feet if necessary.
  • Wipe your changing pad after every use. Given the fact that most munchkins are up in arms after being forced to lie still for a diaper change, cleaning your pad after every use can be a challenge. However, keeping your changing pad clean and germ-free is vital to your baby’s health. If you can’t manage to wipe your pad directly after a change, make sure to freshen it up before the next one.
  • Keep extra changing pad covers on hand. Accidents can happen when you least expect them. Having a couple of extra baby changing pad covers on hand means you’ll never have to go without.
  • Never leave your baby unattended. Even with safety features like contoured sides, straps, and a non-slip base, a baby should never be left unattended on a changing table or other raised surface.
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Having a portable changing pad for outings and a standard changing pad for home will cover all your diaper-changing bases.


Q. Can I wash a standard foam baby changing pad?
When it comes to cleaning your baby changing pad, always follow manufacturer recommendations. When it's time for a clean, it's generally best to wipe your changing pad down with soapy water followed by a disinfectant. All baby changing pads should be cleaned regularly to prevent bacterial growth.

Q. Is there any way to secure my changing pad to the changing table?
Some standard changing pads come with anchoring straps that can be secured to your changing table, a dresser, or the wall behind it. Installation usually requires screws, so make sure you have the right tools on hand.

Q. Do I still need to use a cover with a solid-shell changing pad?
No — that's the beauty of this design. The impenetrable exterior won't absorb moisture and can simply be wiped down between changes, eliminating the need for covers and the extra laundry they generate.

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