My Facebook feed has been blowing up this morning. The mommy groups, the cloth diapering groups, and my friends list are all talking about the same thing: a mother decided to change the baby at the table in a restaurant. She and her family were booted.
Okay, in all fairness, she didn’t pop her newborn baby on the table and change the diaper right in plain view. She made the decision to put down the change pad and change the baby on the chair at her table. Regardless of how one wants to justify the decision, the baby was changed in the dining area.
So, moving on… I’ll be direct on my feelings on this.
Don’t change the baby in the dining area.
No, really. Just don’t.
You know the old saying, “You don’t s*** where you eat,” right? There’s a reason for that. Defecation, regardless of who does it, is not clean. You can have the sweetest child in the world, the tiniest newborn ever, and poop will still not smell like roses. In fact, my precious flower of a daughter has produced diapers that had me sniffing around trying to figure out what died. I couldn’t figure out where the smell of decomp was until I sniffed her. (No, this really did happen. No joke or exaggeration.) Fecal matter contains all sorts of things that can cause food-borne illness. E.Coli, for example, is found in feces… and think about how many food recalls there have been over the last few years due to E.Coli being found.
Let’s Use Some Breastfeeding Logic
We get pretty choked when someone suggests that a nursing mother should breastfeed in the bathroom. Not going to happen. It’s gross. There’s poo molecules flying around, etc. Using that logic… it only makes sense to change the baby in the bathroom. After all, bathrooms are for poop and tables are for food.
But we tell people if they don’t like breastfeeding, don’t look at it… why shouldn’t that apply to when we change the baby?
I’ve stated that I worked hard to overcome my own discomfort with other people breastfeeding… but even when I had that issue, I’d never, ever tell someone that they couldn’t breastfeed because of me. I’d rather carefully ignore a feeding than hear a kid shrieking. When you change the baby? Sure, I can look elsewhere, but that doesn’t make it a.) more sanitary or b.) less smelly. You can’t get away from the stench or the bacteria all that easily, just like you can’t really get away from the screaming of a hungry baby who goes unfed.
So Where Should You Change the Baby?
You change the baby in the same place where the rest of the waste management happens: in the bathroom. Don’t like the provided change tables because they are perceived as gross? Use a baby wipe or a disinfecting wipe to wipe it down. As the restaurant if they can send someone to the bathrooms to clean it right quick. And, of course, use the changing pad. (Or use another location mentioned further down.)
They didn’t have a changing table! It’ll serve them right to have me change the baby in the dining room!
No. Just, no. I talked about the unsanitary aspect of that above… combined with a lack of soap and water at the tables to wash your hands after changing. (And I don’t care how cute and little your baby is, or how not messy the diaper was. You wash your hands after changing a diaper, no matter what. It’s just gross not to.)
There are some other options. Really.
Change the baby in the car.
No, really. I prefer to change my children in our own vehicle, barring stupidly cold temps (or stupidly hot ones) because I know the cleanliness of my own vehicle. I know that it’s free of poop.
Use the Stroller
If you brought a stroller in, then just wheel the stroller back to the bathroom and change there. Occupy a handicap stall if necessary. (But, of course, get out as quickly as possible in case someone who is handicapped really does need to use it!)
Ask a staff member where you can change the baby
I’ve been in a situation where I’ve had to ask for a space to change my child. It happens. I have always, even in high-end boutiques that aren’t actually considered child-friendly by North America, been offered an alternative location to change the baby. If they give you no alternatives and the bathroom doesn’t have an appropriate place, then it’s up to you to decide where to go from there.
Things that are still left that I’d never do
If you’re comfortable with changing the baby on the bathroom floor or on the sink counter, those are still options available to you. However, neither of those two options are things that I feel are truly optional. It’s just too gross for my tastes.
What If They Offer No Place to Change the Baby?
You still have options. If none of the above work for you (you didn’t drive, didn’t use a stroller, or it’s just horrid outside and you’re not interested in changing your baby’s bare tush in sub-zero/heat stroke temperatures), then you’ve got one other option that remains: vote with your feet. If you haven’t received your food yet, then you tell the manager that you are leaving the restaurant because they’ve created an environment that is not welcoming for your family. Let corporate know that this is a problem if it’s a chain or franchise.
If you’ve already received your food, inform the server or manager that you will need your food boxed up to go. Still let corporate know.
Notice that noneof these options include “just change your kid in the dining area.” There’s a reason for that. Gross, health code violations, rude to other diners, whatever you want to pick. Just don’t.
Have you ever run into an issue when you needed to change the baby? How did you handle it?
Image credits: Serge Bertasius Photography