Changing Diapers in Public

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Changing 2-month-old on outings

Oct 2004

I love getting out and about with my two-month-old daughter and meeting with friends at cafes. Most places I go, though, have no flat surface in the restroom or out of the way place to change a diaper. I feel weird changing her on a cafe chair (but I've done it), and I often walk to these places so I can't always just go out to the car. Any thoughts on this? liz

We have 2 kids now--3 yrs. old and 6 months--and our philosophy very quickly became: ''If they don't have a changing table in the bathroom, we'll change her wherever we can--at the table, on the floor, etc.--and if they don't like it, they can put something in the bathroom.'' No one has ever said a word to us about it. anonymous

I generally use the floor of the bathroom. I always throw a baby blanket (the lightweight flannel type that seems to fold up to a small size) on the floor and then put her changing pad over it. When I re-fold the blanket, I always fold the downside 'in' so that all of the nasty germs hang out together. My child is almost 18 months and is a bit squirmier than a 2-month old, but it still works. anon

My kids' poop has never bothered me. But, I have to confess that on the rare occasion when I've had to change another kid's diaper it kind of grossed my out. So, in answer to your query, changing your baby in the cafe -- even though, at two months old you consider your baby's poop to be sweet-smelling -- is, in my opinion, inconsiderate of others. Besides, food and drink is being served there. Do you change diapers in your kitchen or dining room when you are entertaining guests? Anon

While I appreciate your predicament, please realize that there are customers also paying $4 for their cafe experience who do not want to see or smell your child's excrement while eating. Expecting to enjoy one's coffee, lunch or dinner undisturbed by a dirty diaper is not hostile to families. Additionally, excrement and handling dirty diapers spreads disease which is why those activities in public places are usually isolated to a wash room where hands can be washed afterwards. Other paying customers should not have to be exposed to the odor and health risk of your child's dirty diapers. It is good citizenship for you to find a bathroom in which to change your child. anon

I think if you use a portable diaper changing pad (waterproof and big enough so that nothing dirty touches the outer surface) and there is no flat surface in the bathroom, it is acceptable to change an infant's diaper on a chair in public, although preferably a booth where it is not in plain sight. Be considerate and discreet. Definitely do NOT do it on a table where other's would be eating. Also, not once baby is on formula/solids and it is stinky. The better alternative, if your car is not available, is to change it outside (or even inside if absolutely necessary) using the baby's carseat or stroller as the changing table with the diaper pad as a barrier. Just more considerate, I think. debC

Yes, isn't it amazing how few businesses have changing tables? This used to infuriate me. I just changed her on the bathroom floor. Sometimes it was pretty yucky. I used disposable bedliners (like the ones they put under you in the hospital bed after childbirth) or newspaper so she wouldn't touch the floor and then put a diaper changing pad on top of that with a small blanket under her head. Afterward I threw away whatever I put on the floor under the pad. I did once change her on a chair in a restaurant, but with a poopy diaper, I don't think that's really fair to other patrons . . . Some people can change their babies in their laps; that never seemed possible to me. Good luck! anon

I have been in many situations with no place to change one o my three infants when they were young. I usually manage to go into a bathroom stall. even with the door open and sit with my pants up on the toilet seat. I was a high school wrestler so this may have helped. I put the diaper/mat/pad that comes in the bag on my lap and lie my kids done so their head is at my knees and feet near my stomach. Then I do the quick change. I actually prefer it over a changing table in a clean stall since I think many of the changing tables are pretty groady. Dad of three