This title takes on many meanings. From a baby that does not like being placed on his back, getting dressed or undressed, to the wiggle worm who just cant seem to be still enough to get business done, to the balancing game of whether to dodge or catch pee, poop and spit up! Changing can really be a challenge.
But today we are going to focus on the actual table. My sister had the first baby in our family, in Belgium. I went to visit and the MOST fun place to play with baby was on the changing table. It was oriented so that the head was up, feet were down and the “changer” was standing at baby’s feet. There were necessary items logically placed and within reach and baby followed my every move, looking back and forth, up and down as I went about the business of cleaning, diapering and donning clothes.
After the business was done, we stayed to play. I played peekaboo using her feet, I watched her facial expressions and mimicked them, utterly enthralled when she engaged in a true “conversation,” and I watched with awe as she tried to organize volitional movements with her head, arms and legs. A diaper change that can last as little as a couple minutes turned into a 20 minute play time session. It was wonderful!
Fast forward 2 years when I became pregnant and went searching for my changing table. Much to my dismay, there was not ONE SINGLE TABLE in the United States that was oriented with baby’s head up. ALL of them were sideways, designed for “changers” to stand at baby’s side. I finally found one from a manufacturer that is now out of business (see photos). It is a separate top that bolts onto the dresser and into the wall for safety. It then folds out or back when you need to have easier access to the top drawer.
Why is this important? When you stand at baby’s feet, you are encouraging symmetry, with baby looking down at you (downward visual gaze). As you move about, baby looks left and right and back to center again, practicing holding midline positions. Standing at his feet, you notice asymmetries in baby’s head/neck and body, whether they are tilted left or right or resisting looking one way or the other. Because baby is on an elevated surface rather than on the floor, it’s better on your body and therefore easier to engage baby in conversation. In addition,using a flat pad rather than one with a trough and raised sides allows baby to roll sideways rather than blocking movement.
By contrast, on US-designed tables, babies are typically positioned head to our left or right with little alteration. You are looking sideways at baby’s body and baby is always looking sideways at you. Given that we are very one-side-dominant adults, we tend to have a preference for which side we like to approach, so we don’t often change the way baby faces. Also, it’s tough to place your baby’s head on the spot his bottom was a few hours before. These changing tables facilitate asymmetry and imbalance, and if you do not engage in the switching which side baby’s head is on, baby is overdeveloping one side at the expense of the other.
I would LOVE to say “Buy This,” but I cannot find it! The challenge, therefore, is to FIND a changing table manufactured in the US that allows us to change at baby’s feet and is wide enough to safely allow movement side to side. I’m searching for a company that OR a person (who might want to start a company). Please, share your knowledge! Many babies and families will be thankful!