Men’s public restrooms often lack one thing fathers need — a baby changing station. Thankfully, a new law in New York state is changing this to ensure all parents have a safe, clean, and reliable place to change their children.
Although the announcement was made by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office in 2018, the 2019 budget has a line item for the passage of this law. According to the 2019 budget, all “new or substantially renovated buildings [need] to provide safe and compliant changing tables in public restrooms.” This is a step in the right direction for parents who share the task of parenting and is part of Cuomo’s 2018 Women’s Agenda.
In 2015, celebrity dad Ashton Kutcher took to Facebook to share his frustration with the lack of changing stations in public restrooms used by men. “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” he posted. Kutcher then started a Change.org petition stating, “It’s 2015, families are diverse, and it is an injustice to assume it’s only a woman’s job to handle changing diapers.” Additionally, he called on retailers Target and Costco to lead the change and install changing stations in their public restrooms.
However, it isn’t just celebrity dads that are calling on changes. 33-year old father Chris Mau’s post on Facebook about the lack of safe and clean baby changing stations in the men’s room in public facilities went viral. “I’m getting pretty sick of having to change my daughter on a disgusting floor because the only changing table in the place is located in the women’s bathroom,” Mau, the father of four, declared. He explained that he took the youngest child to the restroom to change their diaper only to realize there was no changing station in the men’s room. Mau tried to find space by the sink but there wasn’t any. Finally, the frustrated father had to resort to laying a towel on the low to change his equally upset and soiled baby.
Everyone knows that public restrooms are not the cleanest of places and the last thing you want to do with your child is put them anywhere near the floor of a public restroom — let alone lay them on it to change their diaper. The viral post amassed thousands of shares and reactions from parents across the gender spectrum agreeing with the father’s frustrations.
Thankfully, things are slowly changing. Pampers and John Legend have teamed up to add their voices to the call for changing stations and as a result Pampers has pledged to install 5,000 changing stations in men’s restrooms across the United States.
The fact of the matter is that families are fluid in their makeup and not all families have a mommy that can just take the baby into the restroom labeled for women to change a diaper. For male same-sex couples who have small children, just giving the baby “to mommy to change” isn’t an option.
New York’s new is reminiscent of a 2016 law former President Obama passed to ensure that all federal facilities with public restrooms have changing stations in the men’s room. These types of laws will help father’s feel a bit more safe and empowered when it comes to caring for their children. New York’s new law is definitely a step in the right direction for parents to be able to have family outings that are a bit less stressful and less worrisome.