Parenting

Looking for a Changing Table While Out With the Baby? There's an App for That!

“There’s no changing table in the bathroom.” Bathed in the heat of summer, my husband and I had escaped into a rather large bookstore when we suddenly realized our son was desperately due for a diaper change.

“Well, what are we going to do?” my husband asked as he looked around, feeling helpless.

What we did was what any good parent under pressure would do when stuck between a rock and a hard place. Folded the stroller down and had one parent keep the baby occupied while the other changed his diaper. In public. For all the world to see. “It’s their shame, not ours,” I reminded my husband as his eyes nervously darted about. In my opinion, they’re lucky we remembered to place the kid out of pee-range of the bookshelves.

Overwhelmed parents of diaper-wearers don’t need to panic in public. Thanks to one high school principal there’s an app for finding the changing table nearest to you.

…it was during a dinner out with his family when he experienced one his biggest parental frustrations of all. [Jacob] Smithers took his son to the restroom to change his diaper and realized there wasn’t a changing table in the men’s bathroom. Smithers then asked his wife if there was a changing table in the women’s restroom and discovered there wasn’t.

“It doesn’t make sense, it was confusion, I was irate at the time because we didn’t have options.”

Eager for change, Smithers began working with a business partner to create a website and app that would show parents which stores or restaurants could accommodate young children. ChangingTableLocator.com lists public locations throughout the country and includes filters depending on the family’s needs. While traveling, Smithers now speaks with business owners and urges them to provide family friendly environments, especially if the restaurant already offers high-chairs.

A father of three and former stay-at-home dad, Smithers fully comprehends the fact that taking kids anywhere can be a stressful experience. But, not being able to take your kid to the bathroom for a change is ten times worse. I wonder, did the Smithers family take their child to the car that day, or did they simply lay the boy across the booth or in his stroller in the aisle to give fellow patrons a little theater with their dinner?

This past October, President Obama signed into law a requirement for all federal buildings to have changing tables installed in both the women’s and men’s restrooms. But, buildings have 2 years to fulfill the requirement and will be excused from doing so if the cost is unfeasible. As for privately owned buildings, the jury is still out despite the fact that the court of public opinion favors changing tables in men’s restrooms as well as women’s. The bottom line remains: If you want to foster a family-friendly culture, you get a changing table in every restroom, period.

The app currently lists 7,000 businesses with diaper changing locations and is available to download before Thanksgiving.