Changing Table vs Dresser with Pad for Baby’s Room: Which One Is Better?

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Baby laying on changing table

Babies pretty much do four things; they eat, sleep, cry, and they poop.

A newborn baby can easily go through 10 diapers a day, and having a comfortable place to change them is a godsend for your back. You don’t want to be stuck bending over half the way!

When it comes to changing your baby’s diapers, there are a few options that you can consider. Two of the most popular are a classic changing table or a regular dresser with a changing pad on top.

In this article, I want to break down the differences between changing tables vs. dressers with pads and help you decide which one is the more functional and convenient choice for you.

The main differences between changing tables and dressers with pads are the storage set-up and the design of the top surface.

Changing tables will often include easy-to-access storage spaces to keep necessary baby items like extra diapers, diaper cream, wipes, and extra changes of clothes within arms reach. On the other hand, dressers normally just have regular drawers — they can hold all of the same stuff, but you might want to use that space for clothes, instead.

Changing tables have raised edges on the top that you can fit a pad into so that your baby is surrounded on at least three sides to help prevent rolling off of the table. Some changing tables even include straps to hold your baby in place. Dressers usually are just flat on the top and the pad sits right on top with no raised edges.

In most ways, changing tables are better suited for diaper changes. However, if you plan on having a dresser in the nursery and are short on space, you likely won’t need a separate changing table.

Let’s take a little bit of a closer look at this comparison.

Changing Tables Explained

Caitlin Regan/Flickr

Changing tables are a usual item on lists of nursery furniture and newborn baby essentials, but there have been many alternatives that have popped up over the years.

Basic changing tables are designed with their specific purpose in mind, so they are normally 36” to 42” high (perfect height to save your back), have raised edges on top for safety, and accessible storage for baby items.

The shelving on a changing table is usually open so you can quickly grab diapers, wipes, and whatever else you need.

Changing tables come in a myriad of designs and styles, and many are part of complete nursery furniture sets.

Most changing tables are free-standing, while some can be mounted onto a wall to then fold down.

Some wall-mounted designs fold straight out, almost like a wall-mounted ironing board (think the changing tables you see in public restrooms but twisted 90 degrees). These models allow you to change your baby straight on instead of sideways, which can actually be very convenient and easy.

The main uses of changing tables are:

  • To provide a place for you to change your baby’s diaper comfortably
  • To conveniently store diapers, wipes, diaper cream, and everything else you need for quick changes

Changing tables can be very sleek in design, or more substantial, it all depends on the look that you are going for in your nursery. Some changing tables include drawers and cabinets to keep items hidden, while other tables have open shelves.

Changing tables can range in price from the low $100s to the $1000s; sometimes the higher price tag is just because of the designer name.

You can find reasonably-priced, sturdy, awesome changing tables though if you aren’t set on a particular brand.

Pros and cons of changing tables


  • Convenient: Changing tables are designed with diaper changes in mind, so they normally come with easy-to-access storage that is specifically designed for all of the things that you need for diaper changing
  • Multiple styles: Changing tables come in an almost endless array of styles, designs, and finishes, so you can find exactly what you are looking for
  • Safety: Changing tables are designed with the knowledge that your baby will be on top of them, so they feature raised edges to help prevent your baby from falling off of the top. Of course, you should never leave your baby unattended, the rule is to always keep one hand on your baby when she is on the changing table.


  • Can get pricey: The more features and storage that you are looking for, the more pricey changing tables can become. It’s important to set a budget before you get swept up in all of the fancy designs and bells and whistles.
  • Take up extra space: As we’ll discuss below, not everyone has room for a dresser AND a dedicated changing table in the nursery. You might have to choose one, unless you go with a fold-away model.

The Dream On Me Emily changing table is classic, functional, and comes in enough colors to match any nursery. Click the link to check the price on Amazon.

Dressers with Pads Explained

Click to see on Amazon

When my daughter was young, we had a beautiful antique dresser we wanted in her room. So we just decided to use it as our changing table.

We bought a small pad to keep on top, along with a basket for diapers, wipes, and Aquaphor.

Dressers can act as effective changing tables, there are just a couple of small things to consider.

Dressers (with changing pads on top) offer storage, a flat surface and many also come within the height window of 36” to 42”. Dressers can have many similarities to regular changing tables, so by adding a changing pad onto the top, you can virtually turn any dresser into a place to change your baby’s diaper. 

Dressers come in a variety of styles and finishes, so you can easily find one that can go with your nursery decor. You may even opt to add some features to a dresser to make it more convenient.

For example, you can add a towel bar to the side of the dresser to suspend a hanging diaper holder, and you can add storage baskets on the side to place things like wipes and diapers so they are easier to grab (and don’t take up room in the top drawers).

The drawers can be used for your baby’s clothes, spare wipes, extra diapers, and other supplies, however.

The main benefit of a dresser with a changing pad?

To provide a lot of storage in your baby’s nursery, without taking up extra space since you can also use it as a changing table.

Dressers may not come with the raised edges that changing tables do, but you can find a large selection of changing pads for the top of dressers that offer similar features.

For example, some changing pads come with contoured edges that help hold your baby in place, and many also feature a strap and buckle. You may want to opt for one of these changing pads if you decide to use a dresser in place of a regular changing table.

The contoured edge and strap are great for safety and peace of mind.

Dressers can be quite inexpensive or extremely high-end. But the changing pads for the top are usually cheap ($30 or less) and have washable covers that can be swapped in and out.

Dressers with pads can be a good option if your nursery is short on storage. You can get a longer dresser so that the changing pad rests in the middle or closer to one end, and you can place additional storage baskets on the top to store essential items.

Since dressers include several drawers, you can get quite a bit of storage space out of one piece of furniture that can do double-duty as a changing station.

Pros and cons of dressers with pads


  • More Storage: Dressers usually have more storage than a regular changing table. Use some of the drawers for diaper supplies and the rest for onesies and other clothes.
  • Cost-effective: You can find a basic dresser that is sturdy and offers a lot of storage for less than a changing table with similar storage


  • Safety: Dressers do not have raised edges to offer extra protection against your baby falling off of the top. However, you can get a changing pad with a contoured edge and a safety strap
  • Basic storage: Dressers have a lot of storage, but drawers are usually the only optoin. However, you can make some personalized adjustments to create storage that is a little more suited to your needs

Whatever dresser you decide to use in the nursery, go with a simple but contoured changing pad like the Summer Infant pad (Amazon link) for the top.

 Wrapping Up

That about sums it up when it comes to changing tables and dressers with pads.

The biggest difference between the two is the fact that changing tables are designed with one purpose in mind, to change a baby’s diaper, while dressers are basic storage pieces.

Therefore, changing tables feature raised safety edges and storage that places diaper essentials at your fingertips. Dressers with pads have a lot of storage, but it is basic and designed for clothes, plus no raised edges on the top.

If you have the room and budget, a dedicated changing table is really nice to have. But if not, don’t sweat it — a dresser doubles as a changing table just fine — plus you’ll find you often end up changing baby on the floor a lot in those early days!

What do you think? Where did you end up changing your newborn most often?

I hope this helps, parents!

And before you go, check out more baby stuff explained like: