Putting a new diaper on your little one becomes easier in New York starting this year, moms and dads.
A state law went into effect Jan. 1 requiring diaper changing tables be in all new or newly renovated public restrooms in the Empire State.
While the lack of diaper changing tables in men’s rooms sparked the new law, it’s a win for all parents and caretakers regardless of gender.
“All parents deserve a clean, safe space to take care of their baby’s needs,” N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted back in April when announcing the new law. “We’re ensuring equal access to these amenities so all New Yorkers can give their children the care they need at this critical stage of their lives.”
The state legislation follows a similar diaper changing tables law passed in NYC a year ago although this statewide effort was first introduced in 2015 by state Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-27, of New York City.
The New York law, part of the state’s Uniform Building Code, affects private businesses and state offices, buildings and facilities. Restaurants, retail stores and movie theaters will need to comply along with parks and government offices. At least one changing table will need to be accessible to the genders per publicly accessible floor. Signs must also be posted to direct the public to the nearest available changing table.
Diaper changing tables in the spotlight
The call for equal gender access to diaper changing tables has taken the national spotlight a few times. In 2015, actor Ashton Kutcher complained about the lack of tables in men’s rooms on social media. The next year, President Obama drew more eyes and ears to the issue when he signed legislation requiring federally owned buildings to install changing tables in both men’s and women’s restrooms.
In September 2018, a father’s Instagram post of himself having to change his child’s diaper while squatting on a men’s room floor caused another media sensation.
NYC and City Dads Group garnered attention for the cause in October 2015. The Upworthy video website interviewed co-founder Lance Somerfeld, showing him needing to change his daughter’s diaper on a park bench. The video has received more than 590,000 views to date.