Updated January 2022
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Buying guide for best portable changing pads

Looking for no-fear diaper changes away from home? Portable changing pads provide a simple solution for parents on the go while giving them peace of mind that their baby’s bottom is in good hands.

Portable changing pads are foldable or rollable accessories that tuck neatly into a diaper bag. They’re essential if you need to do a diaper change in a public bathroom, as it’s important to cover the changing station to protect your baby from germs. Since portable changing pads serve as barriers to not-so-clean environments, many of them are made with easy-care materials like nylon or polyester. Many are comfortable for your baby to lie on during changing time, as they often have quilted layers to provide gentle padding and support.

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If you have a longer diaper bag (as opposed to a wider one), consider a rolled portable changing pad. This will optimize your space better than a folding pad.

Key considerations

Portable changing pads by shape


These portable changing pads open into a large rectangle. They’re ideal if you want something simple that folds to a compact size when not in use. Some styles run a bit narrow, so make sure the one you select is wide enough to protect your baby.


T-shaped portable changing pads cover the areas where your baby will most likely come into contact with other surfaces, giving you comprehensive protection. Even if the sides are somewhat narrow in these styles, the horizontal section is long enough to protect your baby’s arms and hands. Depending on the complexity of the design, however, a T-shaped changing pad may be challenging to fold.

Folding and rolling styles

Portable changing pads fold up or roll up for convenient storage. Those that fold are often an inch or two thick at most. Those that roll, while less popular, optimize space because they can be stored vertically. Some parents use the external mesh cup holder on their diaper bag to store the rolled pad.

Closure styles

Portable changing pads have closures that help keep them compact. Buckles, snaps, and Velcro closures are common. There are also some that feature zippers or ties.


It’s not unusual to see at least one pocket or compartment in a portable changing pad. They’re on the smaller side — usually just enough to hold a few diapers or wipes. There are some pads with exterior compartments for additional storage. Depending on how you fill the exterior pockets, the changing pad may not lay flat when it’s opened.


A portable changing pad may be as small as 11” x 20” or as large as 18” x 25”. There is plenty of variation in between, as well. While a smaller changing pad would save room in a diaper bag, your baby may outgrow it. If you’re investing in a portable changing pad that you want to last for the duration of the diaper years, opt for a larger style.


Color and design

Portable changing pads come in a broad range of colors and designs. Brands typically offer the same pad in a few colors and designs, but when they don’t, they tend to have gender-neutral options. There is a corner of the market that caters to those interested in camo and hunting prints.


Portable changing pads are made with easy-care materials including nylon, vinyl, polyester, microfiber, plastic, and knit. The lining tends to consist of a quilted material such as cotton or polyester for cushioning. Some are treated with a waterproof coating to minimize mess and prevent the pad from absorbing liquid.

Searching for safer materials

Portable changing pads often utilize safe material choices that don’t have harmful chemicals in them or use harmful chemicals as part of their manufacturing process. There are plenty of pads that are free of BPA, latex, PVC, and lead. There are also portable changing pads that are vegan, ethically sourced, eco-friendly, or made of recycled materials.


Portable wipe pouch: OXO Tot On-the-Go Wipes Dispenser
Every successful diaper change involves baby wipes. This portable dispenser from OXO features a hard shell and pop-up opening for easy access. It’s even BPA- and PVC-free. Given its slim design, it’s easy to slide this pouch into one of the compartments of your portable changing pad.

Diaper disposal bags: Munchkin Arm & Hammer Diaper Bag Dispenser with 24 Bags
Dispose of soiled diapers with a plastic bag to keep germs at bay. The bags are infused with Arm & Hammer baking soda for natural odor elimination and have a fresh lavender scent. The keychain dispenser is ultra-convenient and can attach to almost every portable changing pad.

Sanitizing wipes: Babyganics Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizing Wipes
It’s important to keep your hands clean as well as wipe down your portable changing pad. These feature a plant-based formula that kills 99.9% of germs. They’re designed with sensitive skin in mind and are dermatologist- and pediatrician-approved.

Portable changing pad prices

Portable changing pads cost between $8 and $40. For the most part, the more you spend, the more convenient features you’ll enjoy.

Inexpensive: Wallet-friendly options are priced at $12 and less. These are compact and usually feature at least one pocket or compartment. They’re made from decent materials, but their durability isn’t always the best.

Mid-range: Mid-range portable changing pads cost between $12 and $25. These modest styles have better detail, right down to the quality of the stitching. They often have high-quality closures. Some can be attached to strollers or diaper bags.

Expensive: High-end portable changing pads cost $25 to $40 and are as feature-oriented as you’ll get. They’re made with easy-care premium materials, and some come with matching changing accessories to become full-service stations.


  • Add a portable changing pad (or two) to your registry. In addition to diaper bags and all your baby travel accessories, don’t forget to add one or more portable changing pads to your registry.
  • Leave one in the car. Keeping a portable changing pad in the car covers all bases in the event you forget your pad at home.
  • Check for latex. If you suspect that someone has a latex allergy — either your baby or a person who may change your baby using the pad — check the material list to make sure it’s completely latex-free.
  • Thoroughly clean it after use. If you don’t have time to thoroughly clean the pad on-site, spend time wiping it down and spot cleaning at home. If necessary, put the whole thing in the wash.
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After you wipe down your portable changing pad with disinfectant, go over it with a damp cloth to remove any chemical residue.


Q. I’m short on space in my diaper bag. What’s the best portable changing pad for me?
Choose a slimline style that doesn’t have excessive padding or quilting. These are comfortable for your baby, but they add quite a bit of bulk and weight to the bag. Another option would be a portable changing pad that can be attached to the outside of your diaper bag.

Q. Should I keep a portable changing pad in my home? I already have a changing station in the baby’s nursery.
Yes, it’s a good idea to keep a portable changing pad at home. Sometimes, a diaper change is emergent, and you won’t always make it to the nursery in time. Keep a portable changing pad in the room where you spend most of your time, along with some diapers and wipes.

Q. My portable changing pad is torn. Can I patch it up?
It’s best to simply replace it with a new one. Exposed areas could attract dirt and bacteria, and a patch may not hold up after regular wear.

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