From dirty floors to bumpy laps, most dads have done the nappy and baby changing everywhere, and anywhere. Isn’t it time for a real change?
A man changing his son’s nappy is not an obvious candidate for viral image status but the picture @3boys_1goal – aka Donte Palmer – shared this week has become a social media phenomenon.
The Instagram snap has caused a furore because it shows Donte crouched on the floor of the men’s room, balancing his son over his lap as he struggles to get the job done. The message is clear: why aren’t there baby changing facilities in men’s bathrooms?
Donte writes: “This is a serious post!!! What’s the deal with not having changing tables in men’s bathroom as if we don’t exist!!.”
He later added (in an interview with Yahoo): “People have commented that my wife is ‘lazy’ for not changing our baby’s diaper or that I could have changed him in the car but why should I?
“Many fathers are present caretakers but either we don’t get recognition or get too much credit for doing basic tasks.”
Dads do it all
All dads of young children will know how difficult it is to find baby changing facilities in the men’s room, and as DaddiLife has discovered, nipping into the women’s toilets, even with a young child in tow, is often frowned upon.
The situation has been called out before. Clint Edwards, the blogger behind No Idea What I’m Doing, wrote this last year:
“As a father with a young child I really hate when I can’t change my kid. This isn’t to say that I enjoy changing a squirmy poopy toddler. I don’t. No one does. But I dislike placing the full burden of changing every single diaper on my wife even more. This whole parenting gig is a partnership.”
As Clint points out, this situation affects both parents equally. Dads can’t take a full part in the parenting partnership, and mums have to do all the messy nappy changing when away from the house. And what if mum isn’t around? We end up changing our children on dirty floors, or with wriggly infants balanced precariously on laps.
As a father with a young child I really hate when I can’t change my kid
Tip of an iceberg
The campaign for more changing tables in men’s toilets has even attracted celebrity support. A few years ago actor Ashton Kutcher wrote on Facebook:
“There are NEVER diaper changing stations in men’s public restrooms. The first public men’s restroom that I go into that has one gets a free shout out on my FB page! #BeTheChange”
Clint Edwards believes the baby changing situation is the tip of a much larger iceberg, one that forces men and women into outdated parenting roles. He says: “Becoming a dad has really demonstrated how profoundly our society is both socially and structurally set up to make it so that the burden of parenting falls primarily on moms.”
The good news is that the situation may be changing, albeit very slowly. Godalming council in Surrey announced earlier this year that it would install baby changing facilities in both male and female toilets, in a move to make nappy changing “an equal opportunity activity”.
In 2016 then US President Obama signed a law requiring all federal buildings to have nappy changing facilities in men’s bathrooms.
But as DaddiLife users know to their cost, progress is slow and piecemeal, and there is no obligation on private businesses to provide the facilities. With more dads involved in the day to day parenting of their children, that just means more balancing acts and more dirty floors. Surely it’s time for a change.
From the DaddiLife network:
Here’s what a few other dads (and mums) had to say over on Instagram:
general_dave– I’ve gone into a woman’s toilet before and was actually applauded by the women for having the front to go in there and change my daughter.. What choice did I have!
pmoshiri – Oh man, I’ve railed about this to friends and family. I gain a lot of respect for places of business that do have a changing station in the men’s bathrooms now.
Thecliftfam – I’ll be honest, sometimes there aren’t any in the woman’s washrooms either. This is awful, I’m sorry you had to endure this! Sometimes my husband and I go for breakfast and he’s done before me so I ask him to change the baby, he can’t because there is no change table and I’ve got to do it. It doesn’t seem right for so many reasons!
ady.o._wheres_my_dude_1974 – Couldn’t agree more. I can think of only a handful of places where theres been a changing bit in the mens toilet.