can i just use a towel instead of a special changing pad
can i just use a towel instead of a special changing pad

In this article, we explore the question on many parents’ minds: can a towel do the trick when it comes to changing diapers, or is a special changing pad really necessary? We understand the convenience of using what you have on hand, but let’s delve into the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision for you and your little one.

Benefits of Using a Special Changing Pad

Comfort for the Baby

When it comes to changing diapers, comfort is key for both the baby and the caregiver. Special changing pads are designed with the utmost comfort in mind. These pads are typically made with soft and cushioned materials that provide a cozy surface for the baby to lie on. The gentle padding helps to prevent any discomfort or irritation, ensuring a more pleasant changing experience for your little one. With a special changing pad, you can rest easy knowing that your baby is comfortable and happy during diaper changes.

Hygiene and Sanitation

One of the major advantages of using a special changing pad is the enhanced hygiene and sanitation it offers. These pads are specifically designed to be easy to clean, often featuring removable covers that can be machine washed. Additionally, many changing pads are made with waterproof materials that prevent any leakage or seepage from reaching the surface underneath. This not only protects the pad itself but also maintains a clean and sanitary environment for your baby. By using a special changing pad, you can better safeguard your baby’s hygiene and minimize the risk of any unpleasant odors or messes lingering.

Safety and Security

Special changing pads provide an added layer of safety and security during diaper changes. These pads are typically equipped with safety straps or belts that can be fastened around the baby, keeping them securely in place. This ensures that the baby remains in a stable position and reduces the chance of any accidents or falls. Additionally, many changing pads feature raised sides or contoured shapes that help to keep the baby centered and prevent them from rolling off. The safety features of a special changing pad provide peace of mind for caregivers and allow them to focus on the task at hand without worrying about the baby’s safety.

Possible Risks and Disadvantages of Using a Towel

Lack of Waterproof Barrier

One major drawback of using a towel as a changing pad is the lack of a waterproof barrier. While towels may be absorbent, they do not provide the same level of protection against leaks and spills that a special changing pad does. Without a waterproof barrier, urine or other liquid waste can seep through the towel and onto the surface underneath, potentially causing damage and requiring additional cleaning. This not only creates a mess but also increases the risk of contamination, exposing your baby to potential health hazards.

Limited Absorbency

Another disadvantage of using a towel as a changing pad is that it may have limited absorbency. Although towels are absorbent, they may not be able to contain large amounts of liquid waste, especially if the baby has a particularly wet diaper. This can result in the towel becoming saturated quickly and potentially leaking or spreading the waste onto the surrounding area. Special changing pads, on the other hand, are designed to handle larger amounts of liquid waste and provide better containment.

Increased Risk of Contamination

Using a towel as a changing pad can increase the risk of contamination compared to a specialized changing pad. Towels are more porous and can harbor bacteria or other harmful microorganisms more easily. Additionally, towels may retain moisture, creating a breeding ground for bacteria if not thoroughly cleaned and dried after each use. Special changing pads, especially those with removable and washable covers, allow for easier cleaning and maintenance, reducing the risk of contamination and promoting a healthier diaper changing environment for your baby.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Changing Pad


When choosing a changing pad, consider the material it is made of. Look for options that are soft, comfortable, and easy to clean. Many changing pads are made of materials such as foam, vinyl, or waterproof fabric, all of which provide durability and hygiene. Take into account any potential allergies or sensitivities your baby may have and opt for hypoallergenic materials if necessary.

Size and Portability

Consider the size and portability of the changing pad. It should be large enough to comfortably accommodate your baby during diaper changes, but not so big that it becomes cumbersome to carry or store. Look for options that are lightweight and easily foldable, making them convenient for travel or on-the-go use.

Ease of Cleaning

Ease of cleaning is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a changing pad. Look for options that have removable and machine washable covers, as this makes it much easier to keep the pad clean and fresh for your baby. Additionally, consider whether the pad itself can be wiped down easily in case of any accidents or spills. A changing pad that is easy to clean will save you time and effort in maintaining a hygienic environment for your baby.

Alternatives to Special Changing Pads

Using a Waterproof Changing Mat

If a special changing pad is not readily available, a waterproof changing mat can serve as a suitable alternative. These mats are designed to be waterproof and often have a cushioned surface, providing some degree of comfort for your baby. While they may not have all the features of a specialized changing pad, waterproof changing mats offer a portable and convenient solution for diaper changes on the go.

Using a Disposable Changing Mat

Disposable changing mats are another alternative to consider if you prefer a more convenient and hassle-free option. These mats are typically made of absorbent materials and have a waterproof backing to prevent leaks and spills. They can be easily disposed of after use, eliminating the need for washing and maintenance. Disposable changing mats are particularly useful for traveling or situations where access to laundry facilities is limited.

Using a Travel Changing Pad

A travel changing pad is a compact and portable option for diaper changes outside of the home. These pads fold up easily and often come with carrying handles or straps, making them convenient to take with you anywhere. While they may not have all the features of a regular changing pad, they can still provide a comfortable and hygienic surface for your baby’s diaper changes when you are on the go.

Tips for Using a Towel as a Changing Pad

Choose a Soft and Absorbent Towel

If you find yourself in a situation where a special changing pad is not available, there are ways to make using a towel as a changing pad safer and more comfortable for your baby. Start by selecting a soft and absorbent towel, preferably one that is made of a gentle and hypoallergenic material. This will help provide some comfort and protection for your baby’s delicate skin during diaper changes.

Create a Protective Barrier

To compensate for the lack of a waterproof barrier, create a protective barrier between the towel and the surface underneath. You can use a waterproof changing mat, a disposable changing mat, or even a layer of plastic wrap or a shower curtain liner. This will help prevent any liquid waste from seeping through the towel and onto the surface, reducing the risk of contamination and making cleanup easier.

Ensure Proper Sanitation

To maintain proper hygiene, ensure that you thoroughly clean and sanitize the towel after each use. This will help prevent the growth of bacteria and reduce the risk of contamination. If possible, wash the towel with hot water and a mild detergent to ensure thorough cleaning. Additionally, allow the towel to dry completely before its next use to prevent the buildup of moisture and bacteria.


While using a towel as a changing pad may provide a temporary solution in certain situations, it is important to recognize the numerous benefits of using a special changing pad. From the comfort and safety it offers to the hygiene and sanitation advantages, a specialized changing pad provides a more reliable and convenient option for diaper changes. However, if a changing pad is not accessible, alternative options such as waterproof changing mats, disposable changing mats, or travel changing pads can serve as suitable substitutes. With proper care and consideration, you can ensure that your baby’s diaper changing experience is safe, comfortable, and hygienic no matter the circumstances.