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Baby Changing Table vs. Dresser

Mom massaging baby on a changing table.

Bringing a sweet baby home is one of the most exciting events in any new parent’s life. But the months of planning and dreamy anticipation about cuddling your new baby changes into the down-to-earth reality of lack of sleep and messy diaper changes. But the diaper phase passes quickly, and soon your tiny baby will need a dresser to hold their sports outfits.

Let’s compare the similarities and differences of a baby changing table vs. a dresser.

A baby changing table is a specific baby-safe station where a baby’s diapers can be changed. It has storage drawers below the changing top. A dresser is a sturdy broad chest of drawers that often has a mirror on top.

It has space on top to hold clothing and grooming items while dressing.

Creating a functional and safe baby changing area is critical for surviving the first two years of your baby’s life. However, after that, the gorgeous pastel-toned baby-changing table for the nursery will become obsolete. Most new parents carefully plan the nursery’s décor where they dream about bonding with their new infant. 

By thinking long-term, an existing dresser can often be converted into an attractive baby changing table that can be quickly restored to its original form when diapering is no longer necessary.

Baby Changing Table or Dresser – What Should I Choose?

Dressers are short wide chests of drawers with a large flat surface where you can place clothing and other items while you are dressing. They often have a mirror on top. The chances are that you already have an existing dresser since it is a standard item of furniture in most bedrooms.

If you are shopping for nursery items, keep in mind that your baby will soon be a toddler.  It may be wise to purchase a solid, classic heirloom piece dresser that can be transformed with a coat of paint and modern new handles to keep up with the age-related phases of your child.

By answering a few basic questions, you will be able to determine whether an existing dresser or a dresser that you are looking to purchase would be suitable for use as a baby changing table.

The Height Of A Changing Table vs. Dresser

Wooden changing table filled with pads, wipes, and diapers.

The height of a baby changing table is critical. An infant needs frequent diaper changes, and the last thing a sleep-deprived new parent need is an added backache from hunching over a too low surface.

Baby changing tables are always waist height so that carers can comfortably handle their babies and interact with them while changing their diapers. A dresser is often waist height but may be slightly lower or higher than waist height, so before deciding to use it as a baby changing table, be sure to stand in front of it to check that your baby will be at the right level while you are changing their diaper.

The Depth Of The Top: Baby Changing Table vs. Dresser

White baby changing table with comfy pink cushion.

The top of a dresser is usually a wide, flat surface for storing clothing items while you are dressing. If the dresser you are thinking of using as a baby changing table has a mirror attached, that must be removed. The mirror can be used in the nursery, but it should be fixed firmly at all four corners to the wall above the changing area.

Babies are entertained seeing their reflections, and the matching frame on the mirror will tie the elements in the room together nicely. 

Your precious baby needs to lie safely on a wide surface so ensure that if you plan to use a dresser, it is at least 18 inches deep. There are a variety of inexpensive changing trays available that can be fitted to the top of a dresser that easily converts most dresser tops into a safe baby changing station.

While shopping, be sure that you know the exact measurement of the dresser’s top surface so that you can select a baby-changing table topper that fits perfectly.

Storage Space: Baby Changing Table vs. Dresser

Mother changing the diaper of her newborn son on a changing table.

Dressers always have drawers to store small clothing items, and baby changing tables have always got drawers to hold fresh diapers and baby supplies.

If you are thinking about converting a dresser into a baby changing table, it would be more convenient if the drawers are situated on two sides of the unit and are not long horizontal single drawers. It is more convenient to open a drawer on one side of the unit and not step far back while changing the baby.

For such tiny humans, babies require an extraordinary amount of stuff to keep them healthy and clean. Baby changing tables usually have deep drawers specially designed to hold everything from clean diapers to a few toys, lotions, creams, a change of clothes, a diaper pail, and cleaning materials to keep the changing table area clean.

When selecting a dresser that you can use long-term after the baby is out of diapers, ensure that it is suitable to hold all the required baby supplies.

Keeping It Clean: Baby Changing Table vs. Dresser

Nursery room with a white dresser topped with changing tray and pad.

Diaper changes can be messy, and sometimes things don’t stay contained inside the diaper as planned. When the inevitable diaper explosion happens, the area should be easy to clean and sanitize quickly.

Baby changing tables are often made from or coated with bacterial-resistant materials like polyethylene. If you are converting a dresser and plan to paint it, be sure to use a baby-safe coating that will be easy to wipe clean without damaging the finish.

Annie Sloan chalk paint works well when upcycling dressers as baby changing areas because it is non-toxic and odorless. There is a range of gorgeous colors to choose from, so creating the perfect baby changing table from an existing dresser will be a snap.

A Solid Investment: Baby Changing Table vs. Dresser

Baby changing table filled with clothes, blankets, and diapers.

Baby changing tables are only required for a relatively short period in your child’s life. Part of the fun and excitement of expecting a baby is planning the nursery. But after your tiny baby will quickly become an active toddler and then a busy kid, and planning long-term will save you money.

Select a sturdy, waist-height dresser with a wide top so that it cannot accidentally tip. Drawers should be easy to open so that as your little one grows and becomes more independent, they will be able to use them.

If you are purchasing a dresser for this purpose, consider buying one that has handles that you can easily change from time to time. A coat of fresh paint and new drawer handles periodically, and you will have an item of furniture that never lands in the yard sale when the kids are potty-trained.


A dresser is a staple item of furniture in most bedrooms. When a baby comes along, it is possible to transform an existing dresser into a baby changing table provided that it is a suitable shape and height.  

The first two years of your baby’s life may seem like a whirlwind activity, but in less than two years, your baby will no longer need a diaper changing station.  If you already have a suitable dresser or are considering what items to buy for your nursery, using a dresser as a baby changing table is a solid long-term option.


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