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The Anti-Roll Changing Mat Ultimate Guide

Anti-roll changing mat guide for babies who roll over at diaper changing

Chances are, if you’ve arrived at this article, you’re considering an anti-roll changing mat for your little one. Whether you’re an expectant parent who wants the best for when your little one arrives, a mum whose toddler hates nappy changes, or you’ve had a near miss with your baby almost rolling off a couch or a changing table (me, on two separate occasions!), then you’ve come to the right place.  As a mum to two great kids and an educational psychologist, I’ve been through all of these stages at different times!

Why consider an anti-roll changing mat?

In many ways, a better question is why would you not consider an anti-roll changing mat?! When we consider what we know about early infant development and typical milestones of rolling, crawling and walking, it seems like a no-brainer. Once babies learn to roll and crawl, roughly from 5 months onwards, nappy changing can become a battle. In fact, a survey of moms experiences found that up to 40% experience feelings of stress, frustration and burden at changing time(Statista.com, 2010). And when you consider that you change your little ones up to 6 times per day or 6500 times until potty training, and little ones aren’t typically toilet trained until 2.5 to 3 years of age, it makes more sense to buy a nappy changing mat that will grow with your child and work from birth until potty training. If you’d like to know how many nappy changes you have left with your little one, check out our nappy changes calculator here.

But perhaps more important than the frustration of the diaper change tantrum (which is real!), is the issue of safety. Injuries and hospitalisations are not something that we ever want to think about with our little ones...even mentioning the words elicits feelings of panic and worry. Having said that, arming ourselves with the knowledge of which simple daily activities and household objects can put our babies at risk ensures that we can prevent the majority of these injuries from ever occurring. The fact is, for children less than 1 year of age, falls account for over 50% of admissions to emergency departments(CDC.com Childhood Injury Report). Falls from changing tables, beds and sofas are among the most common furniture from which they fall. Last year, a video of a brother catching his baby brother falling off a changing table went viral. His mother released the video to raise awareness of the dangers of changing tables to other parents.

 

So, rest assured you are not being an over-cautious parent by considering a changing mat to stop rolling! In fact, quite the opposite! But now the question becomes which type to buy. ‘There’s more than one type?!’ I hear to ask! And the answer is yes! But don’t worry, I’ve broken them down into three main types – wedge changing mats, portable changing mats with straps and more rigid polyurethane foam changing mats, and you can find out all about each type below, including a comparison table at the bottom.

Wedge Changing Mats

Wedge anti roll changing mat 

These are probably the most common style of changing mats you’ll find when you look for anti-roll changing mats. They are typically a padded changing mat with raised sides and are usually made from a wipeable PVC filled with a soft foam centre. Many of these wedge changing mats also come with removable covers which can make it a little more cosy and comfortable for babies, particularly when you’re laying them down in bare skin and the PVC can be cold to touch.

Wedge anti roll changing mat with cover

There’s a really big range of wedge changing mats available – you can pick one up in most baby shops or online on Amazon etc. The price varies a lot too – anywhere from under £10 to £50. But just be aware that while they may all look similar, they’re not all made equal. Many of the lower cost brands are made from PVC and have chemicals that you may not want next to your baby’s skin, whereas the mid-range to high-end wedge mats are often made from BPA and phthalate free PVC. Also, the raised sides on some of the cheaper mat are really low and don’t offer much extra safety. In contrast, many of the more expensive versions come with nicely raised sides and some even come with an added thin safety strap.

Wedge anti roll changing mat with raised sides and strap

Wedge changing mats have the advantage of being able to be used on the floor or on a changing table and the hope is that the raised sides will deter your little one from rolling. However, a disadvantage to using this type of wedge changing mat on a changing table as opposed to an all-in-one changing station is that the mat itself is not secured to the table and may be liable to slip off. Also, the raised sides may be a deterrent for rolling, but once babies become more active or reach the toddler stage, raised sides, even with a thin safety strap, will be no match for their ninja flips which is why it goes without saying that it’s essential to supervise your little one at all times.   

Foam Changing Mats

Foam anti-slip changing mat

Foam changing mats have gained in popularity in recent years. Unlike the wedge changing mats which are usually a soft foam filling with a PVC covering, these mats are made entirely from a more rigid, polyurethane (PU) foam. Like the wedge changing mats, they often also have slightly raised sides, though less so than the wedge mats. Many of these foam mats also have a thin safety strap, though again, as with the wedge changing mats, these thin straps do little to contain a toddler who fights nappy changing.

Foam anti slip changing mat

The surface itself of these PU foam changing mats has some anti-roll properties as it’s less slippery than the PVC covering and can keep the little one from squirming too much. Added to this, the nature of the material means parents find them more comfortable next to their little ones’ skin as they are soft to touch and the foam doesn’t get too cold so there’s no need for changing mat covers, which can get messy and be difficult to clean!

Foam changing mat with strap

The PU foam changing mats typically come in more expensive than the wedge changing mats and range in price from £40 up to over £100. However, many of these mats purport to double up as tummy time mats and some of them also have a slight incline that they say helps with reflux. Additionally, some mums like the muted tones which can add to the style of a nursery. Having said that, similar to the wedge changing mats, they are no real match for a robust toddler and are unlikely to work effectively as an anti-roll changing mat once they reach those active milestones.

Foam changing mat with incline

Portable Anti-Roll Changing Mats

As mentioned above, the raised sides that are commonly found on wedge and foam changing mats act as a deterrent to stop our little ones from rolling off during nappy changing. However, they do little to stop them rolling off once they hit the wriggly phase, which for some can be as early at 6 months. It’s not surprising to learn then that the most common recommendation from safety experts and paediatricians to avoid injuries is that babies should be changed on a changing mat on the floor.

While changing a baby on a mat on the floor is undoubtedly the safest solution, it’s not without problems. Being changed on the floor can give babies extra freedom to wriggle, roll and crawl away. Even if you use a wedge or foam changing mat with a strap, if you switch to using it on the floor, you may well find they flip the whole mat over and tear away with it on their back like a very determined (and cute!) turtle! And remember, this is likely to be the case for up to 18 months before they potty train!  

via GIPHY

If the thought of the nappy change tantrum fills you with dread, you may consider a portable anti-roll changing mat. The Wriggler anti-roll changing mat is more or less the only one you will find in this category. It can be used from birth until potty training but really comes into its own for that 18-month period when nappy changing has been likened to wrestling a Tasmanian devil, taming an alligator or chasing a chicken!

diaper changing meme for anti roll changing mat guide

The Wriggler is a multi-award winning anti-roll changing mat with straps and a cute bear design. The bear’s arms extend out from the mat and give the baby or toddler a gentle bear hug and the arms then extend down into kneepads. Once the parent kneels on the attached kneepads, it anchors both the mat and baby/toddler in place so there’s no more flipping over and mum’s hands are freed up for a quick and easy change. The kneepads prevent that ‘snail effect’ that can happen with wedge changing mats with straps making it an ideal toddler changing mat.

 

The Wriggler anti-roll changing mat awards

While The Wriggler can be used as a standard changing mat for baby on a changing table for newborns or non-wrigglers, it must be used on the floor with the knees on the kneepads to make use of the anti-roll function, which is the main design feature. Having said that, babies and toddlers who roll during nappy changing tend to do it everywhere, not just at home. And in many ways, the worst moments are the more public ones, like when you’re visiting your friend who has no kids but who has plush cream carpets and you’re trying to chase after your bare bummed toddler leaving brown streaks behind him! The huge advantage then of a portable anti-roll changing mat like The Wriggler is that you can take it with you and have wriggle-free nappy changing anywhere.

Similar to both the wedge and foam changing mats, The Wriggler is wipeable and messes wipe clean in seconds. It’s made from a soft polyurethane laminate which is non-toxic, BPA and phthalate free and safe and cosy next to newborn skin. While obviously not as thick as the non-portable wedge and foam changing mats, it’s foam lining makes it comfortable for changing on carpet or hard flooring.

So that covers your main options when considering an anti-roll changing mat. I’ve summarised the main features and benefits of each below as a quick guide. Hope this helps in your decision making!

What options are there?

  

 

Wedge changing mat

wedge anti roll changing mat

Foam changing mat

foam anti roll changing mat

Portable anti-roll changing mat

Portable

No

No

Yes

Suitable for changing tables

Yes

Yes

No

Age range that it can be used for

Birth to potty training, but once baby is more mobile, raised sides will not fully prevent rolling

Birth to potty training, but once baby is more mobile, raised sides will not fully prevent rolling

Birth to potty training or age 3

Materials

Foam filled, wipeable PVC

Polyurethane foam

Wipeable BPA and Phthalate-free PUL

Straps

Some yes, most no

Some yes, some no

Yes

Key benefits

Raised sides make rolling off less likely, especially in early months

Foam is warm next to baby’s skin

Slightly raised sides and anti-slip surface can help keep little ones in place

Some versions double as a tummy time mat

Multi-award winning kneepad design anchors mat and baby in place so babies and toddlers can’t roll or crawl away and parent’s hands are free for a quick and easy change

Cute bear character gives little ones a ‘bear hug’ so that the nappy change tantrum ends for good

Folds up into a compact mat so can be used at home or out and about

Key disadvantages

Once babies grow and become more active, the raised sides no longer prevent rolling fully

May provide a false sense of security when changing on raised surfaces, which is not recommended once babies can roll

Covers can become messy and be difficult to clean

Once babies grow and become more active, the raised sides no longer prevent rolling fully

May provide a false sense of security when changing on raised surfaces, which is not recommended once babies can roll

Pricey, with many ranging from £45 up to over £100

 

Must be used on the floor (though changing on the floor is paediatrician recommended once babies learn to roll due to risk of falls from changing tables)

Price range

£10 – £50

£40-£120

£34.99


If you enjoyed this article, you might like to check out our ‘Diapers vs Pull-ups – cut the poop, here’s the scoop!’ article here!


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