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Question

Are changing tables in all public men's restrooms now?

Dipesh Navarsia

Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD, FAAP

Answer

Are changing tables in all men's public restrooms now?

Unfortunately, no. Although more men's restrooms now include diaper changing tables, it's still not a requirement.

With more parents today sharing the load (no pun intended) ―this situation becomes challenging and frustrating. Not to mention it fails to address entire subsets of men who could need to change a baby's diaper at some point in public―single dads, stay-at-home dads, two-dad families, grandpas, uncles, male babysitters, etc.

The lack of changing tables in public men's restrooms is an issue that affects any man who spends time with a child in diapers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports legislation that would require changing tables in both men's and women's public restrooms.

We know changing tables not only make the task of diaper changes easier and cleaner, they also reduce the risk of injury. Plus, we also know involved dads help kids grow.

A number of states and cities have either passed laws or are considering legislation that would require changing tables in both men's and women's public restrooms. However, many laws apply only to new or renovated buildings. As you can imagine, it's not just legal standards but also building codes that matter.

The federal government also has similar rules with the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation (BABIES) Act of 2016. It requires changing tables that are "physically safe, sanitary, and appropriate" in all public restrooms―a point not to be taken lightly as it wouldn't do much good to have an unsafe, dirty, or poorly-sized changing table in a restroom. But, this is progress!

​How You Can Advocate for Change:

It may seem like there's nothing you can do about big government decisions, such as laws and regulations about changing tables in public restrooms. But, actually you are exactly the right person to make a difference!

  • You have a story to tell: about your child and your family, about a specific situation and the barriers you faced, and about why it's so important.

  • Your story can make a difference. A dad's story, a working mom's story, a grandpa's story, an uncle's story. Share your experience on social media (tag @HealthyChildrenaap on Instagram and @HealthyChildren on Facebook!), in your local newspaper, and to elected officials to make sure they understand why this issue is so important. Photos of fathers changing their babies on their laps in public restrooms helped prompt national attention to the issue and encourage change.

  • And don't forget that most businesses do want to please their customers. A polite comment or request to management in older buildings can help them realize the oversight of not having changing tables in men's restrooms. You might even mention a competing establishment that does have one. 

What to do if the men's room has no changing table:

  • Look for a family or unisex restroom. Increasingly, these are available for any parent and include changing tables. Consider wiping down the surface with antibacterial wipes, if you have them―a great diaper bag item! 

  • Don't be tempted to try to change the diaper on a countertop. Children can easily roll off counters and other raised surfaces. There's too much risk the child could tumble off and get hurt.

  • Find an out-of-the way spot on the floor to spread out your changing pad (something all men should always have in their diaper bag) to change your child's diaper.

  • Having trouble finding a good spot? Restaurants and crowded places can be tricky. Ask someone who works there for help. In a pinch, a reclined stroller can be a good place for a diaper change. If you drove, the floor of your vehicle may also work and offer privacy.

Editor's Note: Changing tables used in public facilities, such as public restrooms, are covered by ASTM F2285, Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Diaper Changing Tables for Commercial Use.

Additional Information:


Dipesh Navarsia

Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD, FAAP

​Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD, FAAP is an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and is director of the MD–MPH program there. He has  practiced primary care pediatrics in a variety of settings and is the founding medical director of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin. Dr. Navsaria regularly writes op-eds on health-related topics, does radio and television interviews, and frequently speaks locally, regionally and nationally on early brain and child development, early literacy, and advocacy to a broad variety of audiences. Follow him on Twitter @navsariaFacebook, and visit his website www.navsaria.com

Last Updated
6/7/2019
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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