Baby Changing Station…

I was at the Northstar Cafe in Columbus, Ohio today (I’m in Columbus for the Secular Student Alliance conference), and this sign was in the bathroom, and it made me unutterably happy.

Baby Changing Station sign

It’s a small framed sign sitting on the sink of the one-hole bathroom, which reads, “Baby changing station located in the men’s room.”

Change happens in baby steps. Literally.

Baby Changing Station…

59 thoughts on “Baby Changing Station…

  1. 4

    Related story: In a local YMCA, I discovered (much to my chagrin) that one of the men’s rooms was missing a changing table, and my wife confirmed that the women’s room next to it did have one. We filled out a comment card to complain… and about a week later, I got an e-mail saying, “You’re absolutely right, we’re not even sure how this happened because all of the bathrooms are supposed to have changing tables” (it is true that all of the other men’s rooms in the building are appropriately equipped) “and we’ll put in a work order right away to get it fixed.” Woo hoo!

  2. 6

    My guy used to get so frustrated with the lack of change tables in the men’s room when our kids were small. He tended to do more diaper changes to make up for the fact that I was the one who did all the feedings (what can I say? I had the necessary equipment, he didn’t.).

    We were traveling and stopped at a roadside diner and when he went to change our daughter’s diaper found the men’s room not only had no table or counter, the floor was unspeakably filthy. When he complained, the management told him I should go do the change in the women’s bathroom. He was so mad. He walked over and put baby and change pad on an unused table, changed her in the middle of the restaurant and handed the used diaper to the manager on the way out.

    Sometimes it’s useful to be tall and look like a very mean Viking. (Although it belies his usually very sunny disposition.)

  3. 7

    I’m still impressed when I go to a public men’s room and see a changing station, though it’s starting to fade a bit as it gradually becomes more commonplace.

    Of course, I haven’t been in enough women’s rooms to compare availability, especially since I quickly become more concerned with correcting the faux pas of being in there than evaluating the facilities.

    I am curious what circumstances led to the OP’s image, though. The cynic in me wants to think they just simply spent more time getting all the stuff for the men’s room in place before finishing the women’s room. Or that the women’s room got the worse deal in terms of space and equipment hanging locations.

    An alternative, unlikely hypothesis that’s kind of glurgy is that there might be a local trend where husbands are taking on that particular responsibility. I’m all for hetero parents sharing child care responsibilities, but I’d think all parents of all combinations need to be generalized, since availability of partners varies.

  4. 8

    My husband would claim that men’s rooms didn’t have changing tables, so I’d have to go change the baby in the ladies room. And of course I didn’t have a polite way to go check. He was really irritated (or at least pretended to be) when one restaurant had a sign outside the men’s room door indicating that there was a changing station inside, so he couldn’t use that excuse!

  5. 9

    As far as I can recall from when my daughter was a baby, UK baby changing rooms tended to be in neutral territory. There was usually a seperate room close to the toilets that could be used by mums or dads.

  6. 11

    As a Stay at Home Dad, this is a huge pet peeve of mine. I have written about it here if you are interested:

    Seeing something like this always makes me smile. I also like seeing places that have family restrooms or restrooms that are not classified by gender. In a world where two gay men or women going into the same restroom is no big deal why is it a big deal if a straight man and a straight woman do the same?

    Thanks for point this out. I have been seeing a lot of progress from the various movements lately. The momentum is strong!

  7. 12

    That made me chuckle, but I can see how it could also be inconvenient.

    I like the approach some Target stores take: men’s room, women’s room, and a third “unisex/changing station” restroom.

  8. 16

    The only reason I can think of for one-holer restrooms to be gendered is that men might tend to be more messy. I’ve seen changing tables in quite a few mens rooms, I think. We’ve never had to change our babies, they just use the litterbox.

  9. 17

    It’s great that they have that facility for men, but was there any indication of why they didn’t have it for women? Just curious about how they made the decision – there must still be a fair few women needing to change babies, surely. I wonder if they ever get complaints from women without male partners on hand, about having to take babies into the men’s room to change them. Perhaps they thought that if they could only have one changing station, it would be more uncomfortable to have men in the women’s room than the other way around.

  10. F

    Interesting. Here’s my cynical take: Why do they expect that a possible woman with a baby that needs changing is accompanied by a man? Or is there allowance for a woman to go into the men’s room?

  11. 21

    A few years ago I read an article in one of the local (Chicago) papers about sofas in ladies’ restrooms. The writer didn’t know why women’s rooms had them and men’s didn’t. She asked a lot of women if they knew, and the only (really, really lame) answer she got was that maybe it was because women were more delicate and needed to lie down more often.

    I commented that they should notice what those sofas were replaced with: baby changing stations. Oh, she said.

  12. 23

    I’m all for having change tables in every bathroom.

    My complaint wrt change tables is that whoever is in charge of bathroom design has decided that the large stall, required by Federal law to be there for the disabled, is now somehow the “family” stall, and put the damn change tables in there.

    I’ve also seen mombies herd their whole troop of humans-in-training — all more than old enough to understand “wait here until I get back” — into the “family” stall, just so mum can pee (you know, because the children are totes incapable of waiting quietly outside the bathroom). Or they “need” the space for their ginormous Urban Assault Stroller and over-9000 bags of “accessories”. Or — and this kills me — “But there’s a picture of a stroller on the door!” *headdesk* How… how do you see this symbol and think “stroller”?

    //Shutting up now.

  13. 24

    WMDKitty @23, Please don’t assume things about other people.

    After taking my autistic grandson to the (empty) ladies when he was about 6, I left him in the outer section while I went into the stall for a quick pee. One minute later I come out and he’s flat on the floor, licking the floor drain.

    I learned my lesson, and I’ll bet those people you’re talking about have, too. There’s nothing wrong with them using a handicapped stall – the stall isn’t ‘handicapped only’. It means you might have to wait a little longer to go.

    I don’t presume to know your needs either, so if I’m overstepping, I’m sorry.

  14. 25

    If they’re only going to have a changing station in one of the restrooms, both restrooms should be gender neutral.

    miller @ #13: I actually agree. The bathrooms in this particular instance were one-holes, so there’s certainly no reason women couldn’t use the men’s room and vice versa. And come to think of it, the fact that they had a sign in the women’s room notifying people that changing tables were in the men’s room made it pretty obvious that the management didn’t care who used which bathroom. But yes — if you have one-holes, I don’t see any reason why they have to be gendered. Changing tables or no.

  15. 26

    @Chakolate — He… whaaat. Okay, you have a good reason, there. I’m just of the opinion that, generally, using the loo isn’t meant to be a group experience, if you know what I mean. I even give the cat her privacy.

    I’m tired of parents co-opting the one accessible stall and making excuses for why they “can’t” use the regular stalls. As for my needs, well, when I gotta go, I gotta go NOW. And if my tummy starts cramping or rumbling, I’m not going to gamble on it being “nothing” — I’ve lost that bet many times.

    Why not just have a separate unisex baby-change room?

  16. 27

    I love those little toddler seats in the bathroom. There is nothing like sitting on the pot and having your 3 year old open the door and start running around in the bathroom who knows where while you are yelling with your pants down in a room full of people with no way of retrieving your child without extreme lack of modesty. Thankfully a nice woman stopped him from leaving the bathroom area and talked to him while I got myself decent.

    I can understand WMDKitty’s frustration. Sometimes it takes a long time for me to change my children and if someone needed the accessible stall, they may have to wait longer than is reasonable.

    The most awesome innovation is the family bathrooms. They generally have a changing area, a small toilet for children and a larger accessible toilet. A few of them have a bench suitable for nursing nearby – AWAY from the toileting area.

    Added bonus: even in large places, they are non-gender specific, so if anyone prefers a non-gendered bathroom, there is one.

    Trust me, I would much rather go to the bathroom in peace. But when you have small children – you don’t get to do that anymore.

  17. 28

    The worst one I saw was where the changing station was an add-on to the design. To use it, you literally had to make all stalls inaccessible to anyone. So, you are there changing your kid with a line waiting to get a chance to pee.

    Very uncool.

    It was a tiny bit better than changing the kid on the tile floor though – which I have had to do many times.

  18. 29

    Wow, here’s one for the elisions thread.

    @24fps — Having proven you don’t mind mixing fecal matter with food, you shouldn’t mind if I drop trou and take a nice healthy Hep-C laden dump on your dinner table…

    You know, if you had paid money to be at his place for dinner and he refused to let you use the toilet because gender roles, you might be forgiven.

  19. 31

    Azkyroth, there was a change table in the ladies’ room, there was nothing preventing her from taking the kid and changing the diaper; her husband had a change-pad in the bag, he could have placed that on the floor of the bathroom, or, here’s a novel idea, they could have taken the kid out to the car and changed hir diaper there, but no. NO! he changed a dirty diaper on a table where people eat.

    That is never acceptable, precisely because there’s so much nastiness you can catch from human waste!

    I don’t shit where you eat, please keep your baby’s shit away from where I eat!

    Is that too much to ask?

  20. 32

    Most of the public men’s rooms I go into have baby changing stations, and it’s been that way for so many years that it barely registers anymore. And that’s here in the conservative South.

    It’s great that men’s rooms have them now, but I’m not sure what’s so great about a women’s room that LACKS a station. So now a single mom or mother who’s there without her spouse/male partner gets to be inconvenienced the same way single dads used to be? How is that progress?

  21. 33

    When my husband and I were out with the kids together, he always made a point of being the one to change them, just so he could go and ask the staff for changing facilities if there weren’t any accessible to him. That’s how you get these things, by complaining when they aren’t there. (If availability of facilities hadn’t been an issue, we’d probably have tossed a coin/taken turns, just like we did at home when we were both around.)

  22. 34

    It’s great that men’s rooms have them now, but I’m not sure what’s so great about a women’s room that LACKS a station. So now a single mom or mother who’s there without her spouse/male partner gets to be inconvenienced the same way single dads used to be? How is that progress?

    christopher @ #32: Said before, but will say again: The bathroom are one-holes, and there’s a sign in the women’s bathroom directing women with babies to the men’s bathroom. So the inconvenience is pretty minimal.

    I do agree, though, that if a place has one-holes, I’m puzzled as to why the bathrooms need to be gendered at all.

  23. 36

    @ #27: I actually had mine panic at the scary toilets, run right out of the bathroom and out into the reptile building at the zoo, all the while I was calling out “come back!” I’m sure we were great entertainment for many.

  24. 38

    I live in Taiwan (and visited other Asian countries) and changerooms vary, though there are a lot more changing tables in the men’s rooms of larger cities.

    What’s becoming more common, though, is for the changing tables to be in only the wheelchair stall, which is for both men and women. That actually makes sense, since the wheelchair stall is going to be larger anyway. There’s more room for a fold-down table on the wall, room for a stroller, and no need to worry about anyone walking in.

  25. 39

    WMDKitty @ 26,

    I agree perfectly with the idea that there should be a family changing room/toilet. I’m just saying you don’t know the reality that the particular family you saw has, any more than they know your reality.

    I also like the idea that another commenter had that when you need a facility that’s not available, you should always ask for it. Let it be known that there’s a need that’s not met.

  26. 40

    Having been a single father with two small kids back in the 90’s, I’m glad to see things changing. While some places had change tables in the men’s room, most did not.
    Another public washroom related change that is happening slowly (too slowly, I’d say) is the availability of private washrooms for the disabled.
    My older daughter has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. She needs assistance toileting. As she got too old to comfortably be taken into the men’s washroom with me, I often had to ask kind, female strangers to check that the ladies room was empty and then stand guard at the door while I took my daughter in so they could warn ladies that a man was in there.
    Nothing made me happier when we were out and about to find a place with washroom specifically for the disabled and their assistants.

  27. 41

    Is it unusual to have changing stations in that part of the world? Where I live, in Michigan, these are ubiquitous in both men’s and women’s restrooms since at least my oldest (now 22) needed changing. Who the hell doesn’t have changing stations in men’s rooms in this day and age?

  28. 43

    WMD Kitty beat me to what I was about to post.
    As a disabled person, I truly do not appreciate it that the changing table is so often placed in the handicapped stall.
    A person with handicaps and/or using a wheelchair often has less control over their bodily functions. I know that when I need to go, it quickly becomes an emergency. It’s tough for me to have to wait while a Mom changes her baby and often, uses the facilities herself. I truly need those handrails in that booth, so using a “regular” one is tough. I also need the large stall to take my service dog in there with me. Leaving a hundred pound German Shepherd free to roam the restroom while I use the tiny stall might not go over very well!
    I understand those Moms, since I raised five of my own. I just think that those who design public restrooms need to re-think some decisions.

  29. 44

    A few months ago I was at a grocery store and a woman with a boy who was about seven approached me and said that her son needed to use the restroom. She asked me if I would go in with him. I said that I would go into the restroom to make sure no one else was in there–it was a one-seater–and then I would stand outside the door and, if anyone wanted to get in, I would ask him to wait until the boy was done. She thought that that was a good idea, so we did it.
    Changing tables in men’s rooms are a great idea. The weren’t around when my sons were diaper age.
    What I’m wondering is why men’s rooms don’t have those sandwich bag dispensers that women have.

  30. 45

    [email protected]: What little bags? I don’t think I’ve seen those.

    Unless you mean the ones that are in the stalls for disposal of used hygiene products.

    And BTW, why isn’t there a better collective name for them than that? It makes it sound like menstruating women are dirty.

  31. 46

    Chakolate: They are for hygiene, per the Wikipedia definition of “practices perceived by a community to be associated with the preservation of health and healthy living.” I don’t think hygiene or sanitation necessarily means dirty, it’s more like prevention of human waste from having an environmental and biologic effect.

  32. 47

    throwaway @46, Once again proving that there can be a big difference between the definition of a word and its nuance.

    If I can, I’d like to leave off the dictionary and note that if something is labelled ‘unhygienic’ or ‘unsanitary’ the implication is ‘dirty’. It’s part of all Abrahamic religions that a woman who is menstruating is dirty – ‘unclean’. And our products’ names reflect that prejudice.

  33. 48

    24fps says:

    We were traveling and stopped at a roadside diner and when he went to change our daughter’s diaper found the men’s room not only had no table or counter, the floor was unspeakably filthy. When he complained, the management told him I should go do the change in the women’s bathroom. He was so mad. He walked over and put baby and change pad on an unused table, changed her in the middle of the restaurant and handed the used diaper to the manager on the way out.

    That was an awful thing to do. Sorry, but private businesses are under no obligation to provide a place for people to change their kids’ crappy diapers. If you don’t like it, you can always patronize another place. But to change the kid’s diaper on a table where people eat is incredibly rude and unsanitary, not just to the business owner but to anybody but might eat there later.

  34. 51

    Damn! A post that I’m actually qualified to comment on and everyone else gets there first.

    I don’t know how the UK and the US compare on this point, but I was rather surprised at your surprise. I would generally expect anywhere that welcomes parents with young children to provide changing facilities in the gents and the ladies, or a dedicated changing room.

    Having said that, I’ve done my share of changing on grubby floors and leaving the shopping to go and do a change in the car.

  35. 52

    Hi, all — Well, yes, my partner did something rude and extreme in changing our daughter’s diaper on a restaurant table. However, he did use a change pad and I presume the restauranteur had the means with which to clean the table. A little bleach and water would do nicely. Pity he hadn’t bothered to use any in the men’s room, because if he had the baby would have been grudgingly changed on the floor there. The floor was so disgustingly covered with urine that he didn’t even want to put the pad on it, never mind kneel in it. He’d have even waited a few minutes for a floor wash.

    My partner, who is normally discreet, well-mannered and easygoing, might also not have changed baby out in the restaurant area had the man not been unapologetic, incredibly rude and suggested that my partner was completely pussy-whipped to be changing a diaper at all.

    Why should my partner have been concerned with the well-being of his fellow customers if the owner of the business clearly wasn’t?

    You see, no one would ever have reason to crap on my dinner table – I, as a host, would be sure to provide safe and comfortable surroundings with which you could relieve yourself in comfort, unlike the restauranteur in question.

    Granted, we could have just left and changed the kid in the car. My partner could have just put up with the verbal abuse. I probably would have just left. But I still think the look on the jerk’s face was just a wee bitty worth it. Thankfully, things have changed a lot over the years (baby is turning 15 in the fall) and I hope that very few dads have to deal with a like situation.

  36. 53


    Ah right, thought so but I hadn’t heard it before. I totally agree that impractically designed bathroom layouts are extremely annoying, as are inconsiderate parents(though I know my mum always had me go in with her because once someone tried to take me as I waited outside). It reminded me of “moo”, used much in the same way by some serious angry childfreers, but thinking about it, it’s not nearly as degrading and sexist, a little judgey to use on someone you encountered once in a bathroom maybe, but no big deal. So, uh, carry on? (I think I thought I had a reason to be annoyed – the “moo” association in my brain – before I went to bed, but I actually didn’t really, dangit stupid sleepy brain).

  37. 54

    Here in Sacramento they’re all over the place in men’s rooms. I used a few of them myself when our kids were still in diapers. Beats the tar out of using the restroom floor!

  38. 55

    I am an occasional peruser of the blog, but I also happen to be a server at Northstar Cafe (one of the handful who served the SSA table–thanks for swinging by guys!) and I could perhaps shed light on some of the concerns about our restroom setup. I myself had entertained these questions before I started working there.

    The reason the bathrooms are gendered is because one restroom has a urinal, while the other does not. Thus the male/female denotation marks this difference. But we frequently encourage people to freely make use of both restrooms. Some of the more reserved will politely refuse, others will gladly accept.

    As a result of the extra space for the urinal, the “men’s” bathroom is considerably larger than the “women’s”. Hence the natural accommodation for a changing table. But again, since we encourage the free use of either bathroom, the absence of one in the women’s room rarely is inconvenient. Hope that answers some questions! Again, thanks for stopping by!

  39. 56

    Why should my partner have been concerned with the well-being of his fellow customers if the owner of the business clearly wasn’t?

    Because your partner is (presumably) a decent person, and the restaurant owner isn’t? See also: ‘Two wrongs’.

    I’m sorry, I just don’t see why innocent diners had to be subjected to baby shit just ’cause the owner was a merdebrain.

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