Do I Need a Changing Tray? DIFFERENCES To a Changing Pad?

woman dressing a baby

There’s no denying that the baby furniture, gear, and gadgets list to buy before your baby arrives is long and detailed. Many items on your list will involve products that make the changing process as easy as possible. When compiling their lists, many new parents often wonder if they need a changing tray?

Changing trays might be needed since it makes the changing process more hygienic. You need to be ready for a quick and safe diaper change at any moment. Changing trays make things safer as they keep the baby from rolling off the changing station. 

What are changing trays?

As the name implies, a changing tray is a wooden tray that you can use to change your baby’s diaper in. For many parents, a tray is an ideal option if they don’t have the space for a compactum with a changing station on top. 

The tray works by fitting securely onto either side of your cot or crib. Generally, the tray is big enough to fit a standard changing mattress, and many feature three separate components for wet wipes, diapers, and any creams you’ll need. Easy grip handles enable you to lift the tray on or off the crib. 

What are changing pads?

Essentially, a changing pad is a portable kit that allows you to change your little one anywhere. For the most part, changing pads have contoured sides that cradle your baby, providing extra security. 

Many parents enjoy using changing pads; it easily allows you to change your little one anywhere. For a more comprehensive look at changing pads, consider reading my article on the differences between a changing table and a pad on a dresser.

Changing tray vs changing pad

If you’re still undecided on whether you want to use a changing tray or a changing pad, comparing the differences might help you choose the best option. Read on as I compare the key differences. 


  • Changing tray: Baby has the raised edges to prevent them from slipping off the dresser
  • Changing pad: Unless the pad has contoured sides, your baby might still be able to roll out or off of it.

Ease of use

  • Changing tray: Many changing trays can either be assembled on a crib or be placed on a dresser top.
  • Changing pad: Most changing pads are contoured and easy to use anywhere 


  • Changing tray: Many changing trays can easily be carried around and placed where needed.
  • Changing pad: A changing pad can easily be stored in your diaper bag and are great for changing diapers on the go. 


  • Changing tray: With the raised sides, your little one can safely lie on the dresser without rolling off if you happen to turn around for a minute.
  • Changing pad: The contoured sides and ergonomic design makes changing pads comfortable and safe for your little one to lie in.

Why do you need a changing tray?

There are several reasons why a changing tray might be a better option than a changing pad. Some of the more prominent include the following:

  • No compactum: If you don’t have a compactum with a designated changing space, you can use a changing tray on top of any dresser or flat surface.
  • Safety: Most dressers have a slippery surface which could result in your little one slipping off during changing. Especially if they’re moving around a lot. A changing tray keeps your baby securely in one spot.
  • Ease of use: A changing tray provides a solid changing space and can easily be used anywhere.
  • Space: Many changing tables have storage spaces on the sides which make it easy to keep your changing accessories nearby. 
  • Portable: Changing trays are lightweight and easy to take with you if you’re traveling.

Features to look out for when looking for a changing tray

While most changing trays look the same, there are a few key features to consider when you’re shopping for the best type to suit your baby’s specific changing needs. These include:


The most important feature to look at is the size of the tray. Before you start shopping, measure the size of the dresser the tray will be used on the most. Ensure that the tray is compatible and will remain securely on the dresser. 


Adding a tray to an existing dresser will be considerably cheaper than having to buy a whole new compactum with a built-in changing station. I recommend considering this option if you have a dresser that you can use temporarily in the nursery.


No matter where you take your baby, they’re going to need a change at some point during your visit. Ensure that the tray you’re considering can be attached to the dresser and then easily detached to take with you when you travel. 


To ensure the option you’re considering is safe, look at how the unit is assembled. What holds it to the crib if you need that feature? Are the sides raised enough to keep your little one from rolling off the dresser

Additional storage

To streamline the whole changing process, it’s always a great idea to have all the changing accessories close at hand. If you don’t have other storage for creams and lotions, opt for a tray with one or two enclosed sections to hold diapers and creams. 

Best changing trays

There are a few changing trays that seem to be more popular than others. I’ve listed the top 3 choices that parents seem to favor the most. 

1. DaVinci Universal Wide Removable Changing Tray

A firm favorite is a model on offer from the DaVinci Store. It also fits changing pads with dimensions of 31” x 16”. In this instance, you can use a tray and pad to ensure your little one is both safe and comfortable during changes. This model also boasts two smaller compartments for changing accessories. 

2. Evolur Fully Assembled Changing Tray

One of the reasons this model from the Evolur Store is so popular is its enclosed sides at the top and bottom which make it easy to store diapers, creams, and wipes. When fully assembled, this model has dimensions of 6.75” H x 21.5” D x 45.75” W which means it can easily fit on most dressers. It also features a variety of 12 colors to choose from. 

3. Delta Children Changing Kit

This model from the Delta Children’s Store easily fits on any dresser with a size of 35.5” x 17.25” or bigger. The simple design allows you to turn any dresser or tabletop into a convenient changing station. Since it’s available in white, the Delta changing table matches any existing nursery decor. 

Here’s a clip that shows you how easy it is to assemble the Delta Children Changing Kit. You’ll see how quick and easy it is to put the changing tray from Delta together!


The average newborn baby requires a diaper change anywhere between 8 and 12 times a day, it’s clear that a changing try or pad is a necessary part of your changing process. One option isn’t necessarily better than the other, rather it depends on what you need for your individual changing station needs. 

While you’re setting up a changing station in your nursery, I recommend reading about what you should insert In your diaper caddy for an idea of all the accessories your caddy needs. Additionally, if you’re leaning towards a changing pad, Hatch Baby Grow changing pad or ones from Keekaroo, Bumbo might be some great brand options.

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