Potty equality is nearly upon us, moms and dads.
Just when you thought legislators in Washington, D.C., couldn’t agree on anything, Congress passed and President Obama recently signed into law the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act, or BABIES Act. The new law requires baby changing tables to be installed in men’s and women’s restrooms in publicly accessible federal buildings.
“Government needs to do more to ensure that public buildings are family-friendly. No mom or dad should ever have to worry about finding a safe, sanitary place to change their baby ― least of all in a federal building that’s paid for by taxpayers,” the act’s original sponsor, U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) posted on his website after Obama’s Oct. 7 signing.
The lack of changing tables in public bathrooms, especially men’s room, has been a newsmaker in recent years. The most notable proponent of increasing changing accessibility is actor Ashton Kutcher who complained loudly about the need on social media in 2015. A year before, Dads Who Change Diapers blogger Scotty Schrier started a national changing table database to help parents with soiled children.
“It’s only public buildings at this point … BUT YAY!!!!! This is a huge first step!” Schrier wrote on his Facebook page following the signing.
In light of this new law, a few of our City Dads Group members proved why this is an important change by sharing some of their worst experiences from the lack of changing tables in men’s rooms:
“I was at a Marriott in Michigan where there was no changing table in the men’s room. I brought it up with the staff and was told, ‘There is one in the ladies’ room.’ I told them it was a bit presumptive to assume only moms change diapers. She didn’t respond, and I changed my daughter on the couch in the lobby.” — Austin, Dallas Dads Group
“The lack of changing tables in men’s restrooms have been a major frustration for me as well the thousands of active dads in our communities. Diaper parity is frustrating for our wives and partners as well because they’re the ones forced to shoulder the burden and perform a diaper change when their bathroom is the only one properly equipped with a change table.
“I’m currently in the throes of diaper changes and navigating the pitfalls of public restrooms not equipped with changing tables.
“About a year ago, our family was eating at a popular restaurant when our daughter had a violent blowout. The poop was everywhere and in addition to a new diaper, our baby needed a complete outfit change. Sadly, there was only a changing table in the women’s restroom. The grueling diaper changes like these usually fall under my domain. Consequently, my wife stood guard, while I used the WOMEN’S RESTROOM to give my daughter a bath in the sink to get her clean and into a fresh diaper and clothing. That’s teamwork!” — Lance Somerfeld, co-founder of City Dads Group
Chain store blues
“I was at Home Depot and my 3-year-old had to use the restroom. I took her to the men’s room and there was no changing station. I had no choice but to bring her in a stall where there is a guy in the next stall handling business. It was very awkward and uncomfortable. I never want to go through that again. I hope they put them in all big chain stores.” — Clint, Dallas Dads Group
More makeshift changing table tales
NYC Dads Group member Niel Vuono has changed diapers in a hotel lobby, a cemetery, even in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Read his hilarious story on WhatToExpect.com, The Strangest Places I’ve Ever Changed a Diaper.