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What Is a Baby Compactum?

By Paul Scott
Updated May 16, 2024
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A baby compactum is a multipurpose item of baby room furniture that combines a work surface, storage space for clothes and toiletries and, in some designs, a built-in baby bath. Compactums are usually constructed of wood and will typically include several drawers, shelves, and extras such as towel and flannel drying rails. The working surface used to dry and dress the baby is typically recessed and supplied with a custom mattress and often slides or flaps open to reveal an additional compartment or bath. Compactums are available in a huge variety of sizes and configurations designed to suit most nurseries. Finishings on the compactum will generally be water based and non-toxic and all edges should be rounded and baby friendly.

If there is one piece of nursery furniture that qualifies as a “one stop baby servicing center,” it's the compactum. This item is designed to do it all — from diaper changing and baths to powder and pamper sessions. In addition, all the baby's toiletries, medications, towels, and clothes can be stored in the compactum. These versatile units are generally constructed from wood, with drawers and doors which close on shelves or hanging space, and may include extra features such as towel drying rails.

The top surface of a compactum is usually used as a working surface and is typically recessed to prevent the baby from rolling off. Most have a loose mattress for the baby's comfort that fits into the recess. Many compactums also feature a plastic baby bath which is typically fitted flush with the top surface. On larger designs, the work surface and bath will be located side by side. Smaller compactums usually feature a top work surface which slides or flips open to reveal the bath.

Choosing a baby compactum is certainly as much fun as choosing the nursery decor and decorations, although here are a couple of points to keep in mind when considering different options. The compactum should be high enough for mom and dad to comfortably with the new arrival. The construction of the unit should feature no rough or sharp edges, and hinged and sliding tops should be solidly constructed to avoid accidents. This is particularly true of hinged, flip-up tops which should feature a positive locking mechanism when raised. Although most compactums should be finished with safe, non-toxic varnishes and paints, it is always a good idea to check on this point before making the purchase.

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Discussion Comments

By Wisedly33 — On Jan 14, 2015

@Scrbblchick -- My compactum did have a bath compartment and it was nice, but there was carpet in the nursery, and my chick was a splasher as soon as she got the idea she could. I had to switch to the bathtub early on. But that compartment worked for other things, like for keeping baby oil, diaper ointment, wipes, etc. They were out of the way and not always on top of the changing area for her to kick off to the floor. Funny how a five-month old can kick a tube of ointment across the room! Maybe she has a future in pro soccer.

By Scrbblchick — On Jan 13, 2015

My compactum didn't have a bath with it, but I couldn't have gotten along without it! It was such a blessing to have everything right at my fingertips, and since my daughter was a complete wiggle worm, it was nice that I didn't have to put her in her crib to keep her from rolling all over the place just to reach for a diaper and a clean onesie!

I got my compactum at a baby supply store, so I didn't really look all that carefully at whether it was covered in non-toxic paint and so forth. I guess I figured if a baby store had it, then it was safe. My daughter never had any problems, at any rate.

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