How to Handle Gross, Public Bathrooms
Even in the best of times, public bathrooms are not on anyone’s list of the top places to change your baby (or go to the bathroom). However, with a baby in tow, forgoing the public restroom is no longer an option, unless you want a very cranky baby. The trick is to have a few supplies on hand to make the process smoother and more sanitary.
Know Where to Go
In case of a baby bathroom emergency, it is always a good idea to scope out the location of bathrooms when you enter a store or mall. Family bathrooms are the best – as they give you a whole room to yourself and occasionally come with extra amenities, like a diaper or wipe dispenser.
The Changing Table Dilemma
Most of the time you’ll get lucky and will find a bathroom complete with a good changing table. Sometimes you won’t. It’s good to be prepared either way. Have a blanket and changing pad on hand that you can use if you have to place baby on the table or floor to change him. Also keep an eye out for benches outside the restroom area – if they won’t provide you with a changing table you might as well make use of this instead.
Obviously you will always have diapers and wipes on hand, but for those just-in-case scenarios it’s good to have the following:
- Plastic bags for soiled clothes
- Extra wipes / toilet paper
- Antibacterial gel or wipes
- Toy to distract baby
Some parents like to carry disposable changing pads, which can be thrown out after each use. It may not be the most environmental option, but it is a sanitary one if you regularly use public restrooms.
If the restroom is just too yucky to use, or if the change table is non-functional or unsafe, be sure to take your complaints to the manager of the building, particularly if it is an eating establishment which should have strict cleanliness standards. Follow up a few days later to see if your concerns have been addressed; if not make a call to the health authority.
When no washroom is in sight, or if you just can’t face using it, there are alternatives. If your baby’s stroller reclines, this can be a good place for a change, or even on the backseat of your car. If worse comes to worse, you can put a blanket on your lap and do the change there. Just be careful that baby doesn’t roll off! And finally, if you are only a few minutes from home you can always make the dash to your own clean and well-stocked changing table.