Professional Development

Day Care

Diapering Spaces

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Diapering is a major source of infant/caregiver interaction, and helps promote language development.  It needs to be efficiently planned, with conveniently located supplies, in order for caregivers to give children their complete attention.  All necessary supplies and facilities must be within the caregiver’s arm’s reach but out of the child’s reach.  Children must never be left unattended while on the changing surface, not even for a moment.


Provide a changing surface 34” high and 24” deep by any length sufficient to conduct diapering and dressing activities with ease.  A raised edge around 3 sides of the surface, or a trough 4-6 inches deep, will help to prevent the child from rolling off.  A secure strap is desirable.  The surface should be non-skid, non-porous, washable, and warm to the touch.  It will need to be scrubbed down with soap and water and disinfectant between each use, and supplied with a disposable covering material.

A large, lined container with a lid and foot petal for soiled diapers should be place underneath or convenient to the changing table, or inside some cabinet if the changing area is in an activity space.

Near the changing surface provide a sink large enough to bathe and wash off children.  The sinks should have elbow handles to avoid contact with contaminated hands.   An L shaped configuration of sink and changing surface is efficient and intimate enough in scale to enhance interaction between caregiver and child.

Access to paper is essential for drying hands and for using to turn on faucets, open diaper containers, etc.  This prevents contamination of these surfaces during diaper changing.

Provide individual storage spaces for each child’s personal supply of diapers, change of clothing, etc.  Plastic bins in separated departments work well.  Locate these on shelves above or below but within arm’s reach of the changing surface so the caregiver can be in contact with the child at all times.

Provide shelves for storing all supplies; wipes, salves, paper towels, etc. which are easy to reach by caregivers but out of child’s reach.

Provide hooks, shelves over the changing table to suspend mobiles, store small toys, paste pictures.  A mirror placed along one side of the changing surface adds immeasurably to the educational value of this time.

Locate the diapering area adjacent to sleep spaces but with acoustic separation so sleeping children are not disturbed.  Where possible additional diapering areas near the main activity space will allow caregivers and other children to maintain an easy rapport with one another during the changing time.

Provide adequate ventilation of the changing space so odors do not penetrate other areas.

Protect the diapering area from drafts. Recommended temperature is 2-4 degrees greater than in other parts of the center.

Where cloth diapers are used, a flush sink or toilet is required, adjacent to the changing table, for dumping (no rinsing) and flushing away feces.

Toddlers being toilet trained may use potty seats or a regular toilet made accessible by steps and an adjustable seat.  Potty seats must be washed and sterilized after each use.  Some specialists recommend that potty seats be located in bathrooms only, others that potties be in fairly open, accessible places which encourage toddlers to “sit” without feeling isolated or pulled away by group activities.

Recommended 60-100 sq. ft. minimum per 20 infants.  In general, it is easiest if there is one changing area per every 7 infants.  This then makes is possible to place changing surfaces in several different locations of the group room.

Locate diaper changing areas away from food preparation and provide a different sink for each purpose.  These might even be color coded for greater distinctiveness.

A washer and dryer convenient to diapering and dressing areas is highly recommended.  This can be used to clean sheets, blankets, bibs, wash cloths, towels and wet clothing provided all personal items are used by one child only.  Personal soiled items should be sent home for laundering.  Non-contaminated items, i.e. smocks, may be washed at the center.

Ask Dr. Susan