Changing Diapers in My Closet – Hack My Japanese Home

I “hacked” the closet (押入れ, o-shiire) in our Japanese room (和室, washitsu) and turned it into a diaper command center.


I’m short, but I have long legs, and lots of changing tables were too awkward to use.

We live in an average sized condo with three rooms, one of which is a Japanese room with tatami flooring. Husband and I have our bedroom, Kokuto has always had his own room, and it was my dream that if we could have kids, the kids and Kokuo would grow up to be roommates. Obviously, the changing table would go in baby’s room, but…

I saw a very nice changing table in IKEA, but I felt that the table would end up a waste of space in a year or so. On top of that, thinking logistically, taking a wet baby out the tub to dress her or having to change her in the middle of the night would mean having to always go back to that room.

During our hospital stay, I stayed in a Japanese style room and had gotten used to sleeping with baby, so I didn’t want her to sleep in her room separate from us. For baby’s first three months, my husband and I opted to stay in the Japanese room.

The Japanese room has traditionally been my yoga room and place where I fold and sort laundry. There’s absolutely no decoration or furniture, except for the futons in the closet which are used only when my in-laws come to Tokyo.

We slept on futons and baby slept on the mattress from her crib, sandwiched in the middle. The Japanese room is right across from our bathroom, giving me perfect access to changing her after a bath.

Now, we’ve returned to our bedroom, and baby sleeps in her crib next to our bed. I only change her once a night, and can change her very easily in the crib. We spend most of our time in the living room, so I’m still able to use the changing command center. Plus, since it’s in the closet, I don’t have to worry about having stuff lying out around my house.

In the changing command enter I have:

Stack of unfolded diapers + wipes + a pack of diapers ready to go

Obviously, diapers and wipes are a must with baby, but during my hospital stay I noticed that this was how the hospital prepared their diapers.

Given that they had tons of newborn diapers to change, it’s no surprise that they figured out several time saving methods, several of which I have adopted in my life with baby.

Keeping unfolded diapers on standby reduces the time needed to prepare a diaper. With a baby, dog, household chores, writing assignments, it’s easy to be forgetful. Having stock reduces one thing on my “do-to” list.

Clothes for one week

Sometimes I have to change baby during the day, so having a stack of clothes on standby makes cleaning up, especially after diaper blowouts, super easy.

Her undershirts/onesies are folded inside her gowns/sleep ‘n wear. As a winter baby, socks and leg warmers were a must, and were kept in a box nearby.

By the way nearly every piece of clothing that baby owns is a hand down from my sister-in-law. I can literally count on one hand the things that I actually bought for her, which are a Swaddle Mes, a cute star wrap, a stroller, car seat, and baby bouncer.

And my mother always Skypes to tell me the latest things she’s bought for baby…I have no idea how I’ll get everything back to Japan.

Hand sanitizer

Sometimes after changing baby diapers I don’t have time to wash my hands. Keeping a giant bottle of hand sanitizer on hand means I can quickly clean up without having to take my eyes off baby. This is especially useful when she is particularly cranky and doesn’t want to be put down.

Diaper pail

Another “hack” I learned from the hospital. When I picked up baby from the nursery, she had a package of diapers and wipes, plus a diaper pail under her nursery cot. This made it very easy for me to change her inside the cot and simply put the old diapers in the pail.

I line trash bags with newspaper and put right under the changing table, making it convenient to dispose of used diapers. I just put my hand on baby’s tummy to make sure she doesn’t move, and I bend down to throw the diaper away.

Again, I had a winter baby, so I didn’t have to worry about the smell, but as it gets hotter in Tokyo, perhaps I’ll have to rethink the location of the diaper pail. Right now I’ve lined the inside of the pail with pet sheets, and so far, it’s not been a problem.

Baby care items

Baby thermometer, brush, nail clippers, lotion, (prescribed) medicated ointment for her skin flare ups. Again, it’s all about keeping everything in one spot. I can easily reach them without having to take my eyes off baby.

Pet sheets

I use my dog’s toilet sheets in the baby’s changing center and as well as when we go out. Living with a dog, we always have pet sheets on hand, so there is no worry about running out. I can buy portable changing pads, but I already have pet sheets at home. I don’t have to worry about carrying a changing blanket/pad and washing/sanitizing it.

If baby accidentally pees when I’m changing her, there is absolutely no mess to worry about. After all, the sheets are absorbent- and smell nice too!

This is how I’ve managed to reduce clutter in the house and keep organized. How do you organize baby’s things?

Check out more posts on life in Japan with a baby:

Month 3 with Baby – Finally I Can Smile

A Breastfeeding Journey – My Experience in Japan

Month 2 with Baby – I Think I Know What I’m Doing

Month 1 with Baby – This is Only the Beginning

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