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.
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.