I’d done this hundreds of times before, but most of those were from the comfort and convenience of my own home. Most of those were in a situation that was (mostly) under control and where all the necessary accoutrements were close at hand. Not this time. And so, there I was hovering over the trunk of my car in the middle of a rooftop parking lot, under the dark of night with a slight chill in the air, changing my daughter’s diaper because she decided it was a good time to make a delivery.
Because, of course you can’t expect all restaurants to have baby change tables in their restrooms. But maybe we should expect it.
In the year and a half that I have been a father, I believe I have encountered a grand total of two baby change tables in Asian restaurants across Metro Vancouver. There’s one in the women’s room at Pelican Seafood Restaurant on Hastings and one in the handicap stall at Lee Garden on Kingsway. That’s it. As unfortunate as the lack of high chairs may be in some eateries, the situation with places to change your baby’s diaper is far more dire.
Finding change tables in more public-oriented spaces is much less of a challenge. There’s almost always a changing station available, in both the men’s and women’s rooms, at shopping malls and community centers. I was able to change my daughter’s diaper at the Agrodome at the PNE. And I shouldn’t harp so specifically at “Asian” restaurants either, as eateries of other cuisines are just as guilty.
We shouldn’t have to run out to the parking lot to change a diaper. It’s disrespectful to the other diners to change a diaper at your table, but oftentimes that’s the best option available. There was one time we were at a wedding banquet and we were “lucky” enough to find a couple of extra chairs down the restroom corridor, but we should have been able to use a proper changing table in the relative privacy of the public restroom instead.
Yes, I always pack a basic changing pad with me — the one that came with the Nestle Baby starter kit — but it’s not exactly all that practical or comfortable to try using that across my lap as I am forced to sit on the toilet to make some sort of surface. I’m not putting my baby down on the disgusting floor of the men’s room.
The lack of change tables deterred us from going out, especially in the early months, because we wanted to avoid the inevitable.
I can’t say for certain that it is a legal requirement, but most of us would expect that all restaurants have restrooms available for customers. In general, most of us would expect that these restrooms be reasonably accessible to people who may have physical disabilities or challenges.
By extension, should we also expect restaurants to offer facilities for parents and caretakers to change a baby’s diaper too? It doesn’t cost that much to install change tables, does it? How much is it costing you not to install one?