Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health

5.4 Space and Equipment in Designated Areas

5.4.2 Diaper Changing Areas Use, Location, and Setup of Diaper Changing Areas

Infants and toddlers should be diapered only in the diaper changing area. Children should be discouraged from remaining in or entering the diaper changing area. The contaminated surfaces of waste containers should not be accessible to children.

Diaper changing areas and food preparation areas should be physically separated. Diaper changing should not be conducted in food preparation areas or on surfaces used for other purposes. Food and drinking utensils should not be washed in sinks located in diaper changing areas.

The diaper changing area should be set up so that no other surface or supply container is contaminated during diaper changing. Bulk supplies should not be stored on or brought to the diaper changing surface. Instead, the diapers, wipes, gloves, a thick layer of diaper cream on a piece of disposable paper, a plastic bag for soiled clothes, and disposable paper to cover the table in the amount needed for a specific diaper change will be removed from the bulk container or storage location and placed on or near the diaper changing surface before bringing the child to the diaper changing area.

Conveniently located, washable, plastic-lined, tightly covered, hands-free receptacles, should be provided for soiled cloths and linen containing body fluids.

Where only one staff member is available to supervise a group of children, the diaper changing table should be positioned to allow the staff member to maintain constant sight and sound supervision of children.

The use of a separate area for diaper changing or changing of soiled underwear reduces contamination of other parts of the child care environment (1-2). Children cannot be expected to avoid contact with contaminated surfaces in the diaper changing area. They should be in this area only for diaper changing and be protected as much as possible from contact with contaminated surfaces. The separation of diaper changing areas and food preparation areas prevents transmission of disease. Using diaper changing surfaces for any other purpose increases the likelihood of contamination and spreading of infectious disease agents.

Bringing storage containers for bulk supplies to the diaper changing table is likely to result in their contamination during the diaper changing process. When these containers stay on the table or are replaced in a storage location, they become conduits for transmitting disease agents. Bringing to the table only the amount of each supply that will be consumed in that specific diaper changing will prevent contamination of diapering supplies and the environment.

Hands-free receptacles prevent environmental contamination so the children do not come into contact with disease-bearing body fluids.

Often, only one staff person is supervising children when a child has to be changed. Orienting the diaper changing table so the staff member can maintain direct observation of all children in the room allows adequate supervision.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Diaper Changing Procedure Containment of Soiled Diapers Changing Table Requirements
  1. Aronson, S. S. 1999. The ideal diaper changing station. Child Care Information Exchange 130:92.
  2. Fiene, R. 2002. 13 indicators of quality child care: Research update. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.