Sexism At The Changing Table: What's A Dad On Diaper Duty To Do?

Five hacks for dads -- or moms -- when there's no changing table in sight. (quinn.anya/flickr)
Five hacks for dads -- or moms -- when there's no changing table in sight. (quinn.anya/flickr)

If you’re a dad (or even sometimes a mom), you know the feeling. You see a bursting-at-the-seams diaper, you’re holding a wailing child, and... no changing table in sight. It happens to most men. Even Ashton Kutcher.

On March 8, he posted on Facebook:

“There are NEVER diaper changing stations in men's public restrooms. The first public men's room that I go into that has one gets a free shout out on my FB page! ‪#‎BeTheChange.”

Few men’s restrooms have soap — almost none have changing tables.

As a mom of 2-year-old twins, my husband and I are painfully aware of this: I’m on my own in the diaper-changing arena.

I’m “leaning in” as much as the next woman and my husband is a damn good daddy — one who’s not afraid of all-nighters, vomit or poop. But society as a whole doesn’t allow him to help me. Despite efforts by some politicians, the situation isn’t getting better anytime soon.

Last fall, two legislative efforts by two different California state senators were rejected by Gov. Jerry Brown. One of the bills would have required local and state-owned buildings and public venues to build or change at least one bathroom so that men and women could access a changing table. The other bill would have forced building owners to create equally accessible changing tables whenever constructing a new bathroom.

Brown claimed California is already riddled with too much regulation: "This may be a good business practice, but not one that I am inclined to legislate."

Even though some communities get it (hello San Francisco and Miami-Dade County), as of now, there are no state or federal laws mandating equal access to changing tables. So until dads have equal access to safe and clean changing tables, here are five hacks for changing a diaper — without a safety net.

1. The floor

Airport? Starbucks? Sports arena? Yup, just pop a squat on the ground. Use your jacket to separate your baby from the floor. It’s summer? Hell, just take off your shirt. We understand.

2. Your lap

Yes, this takes some practice but your knees will always be there for you. Hopefully you’re wearing dark jeans. Extra points if it’s a poopy diaper…

3. Restaurant table

Go hardcore and just make it happen on a table. This will surely get you in trouble... but social change takes guts, right?

4. Hood of your car

When having a towel in your trunk pays off. Used it at the car wash last week? Oh well, just make sure the car isn’t running.

The ladies room

You really don’t want to make a scene (or get arrested)... so you hold your baby in front of you like a hall pass and run into the ladies room. Hats off to the dad who did this at a rest stop in southern Maine over Thanksgiving. I gave him a high five as he begged all of us for mercy. No shame in this game.

Have a diaper hack you want to share? Where’s the craziest place you’ve changed a diaper?

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Jessica Alpert Managing Producer, Program Development
Jessica Alpert is the managing producer for program development at WBUR. In this position, she develops new podcasts and programs while also launching and nurturing WBUR’s newest projects.



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