mom gets baby out from car seat to change babys diaper in the car

How to Change a Diaper in the Car

Sometimes you don’t have any convenient place to change a dirty diaper and it needs to get done in your vehicle. But where do you lay them down to do it? Changing a baby on the go may seem like a complicated task but these four suggestions will easily show you how to change a diaper in the car. 

There are four places in the car to change a baby’s diaper most conveniently and safely. The back seat, the passenger seat, the trunk, and someone’s lap are the best spots to lay the baby down to be changed. For each option, you will need a changing pad, a clean diaper, and wipes. 

Related Article: How To Change A Disposable Diaper (With Step-By-Step Instructions)

Let’s take a closer look at how you can properly set up each changing station for a quick and easy nappy change in the car.

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Items Needed for a Car Diaper Change Station

Whether you’re on a road trip, running errands, or just on the go, it’s always good to have a car diaper changing station ready in case you need to deal with a dirty diaper right away. 

Don’t worry, changing a diaper on the go doesn’t need to be difficult or messy. With a few items on hand and a good spot to set up, changing a baby in the car can be a comfortable experience for both parent and baby. 

To create an easy baby diaper changing station for the car, there are some essential items you’ll need to have ready:

  • Travel changing pad
  • Wipes
  • Clean diaper
  • Something to distract baby (if you’re changing an older baby)

There are also lots of diaper changing systems available that keep your supplies together and ready to use.

Diaper Changing Systems for Travel

If you want something to make your life easier when changing diapers in the car, there are different types of diaper changing systems specifically for cars or travel. 

The Beanko Baby Diaper Changing System is a fancy, portable, all-in-one diaper changing “table”. It’s not actually a table but the padded mat that folds down with a wedge under creates the perfect surface to do diaper changes on the seat of a car. 

It conveniently hangs from a headrest and has built-in compartments so that you have everything you need at hand. 

It’s not the cheapest option but would be well worth it for someone who likes to be out and about with their babies. And I appreciate that the changing pad is removable so that you can still use the rest of it as a seat organizer when you no longer need the changing system. 

Another option is the multifunctional diaper backpack changing station. This special diaper backpack holds all your nappy changing supplies but also extends into a changing table (or bassinet) when required. 

This product would likely not work as well on car’s seats unless they were completely flat but it would be ideal for the flat trunk surface or even outside of the car. 

A simpler but practical design is this portable changing pad by Lil Fox. This padded changing mat unfolds to provide a comfortable change area with diaper and wipe compartments conveniently attached to the sides. An easy way to do quick diaper changes anywhere with everything kept compact when not in use.

If you’re not looking for any of the add ons, get a straightforward portable changing pad to keep tucked away in your car. This affordable option still works perfectly fine to keep your baby clean and protect the surface you’re changing them on.

Now for the important part: different ways to change a diaper in a vehicle.

How to Change a Baby’s Diaper in the Back Seat

The back seat of a vehicle, especially when it has a bench seat, is a very useful, flat surface to change the baby. If there is space to comfortably lay baby down, this is a good spot to do the diaper change. 

Mom changes a baby's diaper in the backseat of the car

If the back seat has a slight incline, as many do, it may be easier to keep the baby’s head towards the highest part so that their body doesn’t roll downwards or their head doesn’t get pressed against the backrest. 

With the head away from the backrest, even if the baby is too long to fit on their whole body on the seat area, their feet can gently rest lifted on the backrest. You may need to lay a taller baby down at a slightly diagonal position so that their head is properly supported by the seat.

If you have it available, you could also put a towel or small blanket under the changing pad on the lower end of the seat as a wedge to make a flatter surface.

Before changing the baby, see to it that there are no seatbelt parts or other hard areas of the seat where the baby could hurt themselves. 

Always keep one hand on the baby to ensure they don’t roll off of the seat surface or towards any hazardous areas.

Once the baby is safely laying down on the changing pad, stand outside the door to change them or sit on the back seat beside them if there is enough room. 

How to Change a Baby’s Diaper in the Passenger Seat

If your vehicle is anything like mine, the back seat may not be an option for a diaper change. Between car seats and car toys and kids’ belongings, there’s no room to safely lay a baby down. 

Changing a diaper on the passenger seat is fairly similar to the backseat but you need to be mindful of the shorter width. 

Often there’s either a centre console or emergency break between the driver and passenger sides, so take extra caution that the baby’s head or body will not get close to these harder surfaces and corners.

The nice thing about the passenger seat is that many models can recline the backrest quite far to create a flatter surface and more space for a larger baby’s body. This may be particularly beneficial if you’re changing the diaper on a toddler. 

Always stay with your baby, keeping a hand on them at all times. For diaper changes on the passenger seat, you’ll likely need to stand outside the door to have enough space to maneuver comfortably. 

How to Change a Baby’s Diaper in the Trunk

Depending on how tidy the trunk of your vehicle is, it can be the ideal completely-flat surface to lay baby down. Many trunks also have more space than the previous two options which can make the process of changing the diaper much easier and faster. 

Mom sits with her baby in the trunk of the car in a field with the door open

For this location simply lay the changing pad down in the trunk. As the trunk of the car is usually the place where extra items and gadgets are stored, make sure nothing harmful is within the baby’s reach and that nothing can fall close to the baby.

Standing outside at the bumper of the car, change the baby’s diaper as you normally would, remembering to always keep a hand on the baby. Even though it is a flat surface, you need to take extra care that the baby does not roll towards the opening or any items that are in the trunk and that the trunk door will not move or close. 

How to Change a Baby’s Diaper on your Lap

You may find yourself without any of these spots available so where do you clean the baby? Your lap can be a great surface when you really have nowhere else to do it. It may feel tricky or awkward at first, but with a few important tips, you can easily change the baby’s diaper in no time. 

Mom sits with a baby laying on her lap as she gently holds the baby's head

First, you’ll want to sit down in a safe location, preferably the back seat or the passenger seat. The passenger seat may be easier as you can usually push the seat backwards or recline to give yourself more room. 

Lay the changing pad on your lap with your legs shut tight. If the mat is long enough, I highly recommend extending part of it up on your stomach (just in case). 

Next, you’ll want to lay the baby down on your lap with their head by your knees and their feet by your stomach. If the baby is way too long for this position or your legs are too short, try to prop your feet onto something to lengthen the usable lap space or you can try to recline the seat slightly to create more space by your stomach. 

Holding onto the baby’s ankles, fold baby’s feet towards their head to get a slight but stable lift of their bottom while you offer support to the side of their body with your elbow/forearm. Using the other hand, clean the baby thoroughly with wipes. You may need to tilt the baby’s legs to the sides to properly reach all necessary areas. 

Always keep an eye on the baby’s head so that it doesn’t shift off the cliff of your knees. Their head and neck should always be safely resting on your lap. Never take both hands off of the baby as a lap isn’t a very steady surface. 

Changing a baby’s diaper in a car may seem inconvenient at first but, as you can see, with the right location and necessary items it doesn’t need to be a process that you dread.