Don’t Change Your Baby on a Restaurant Table: 37 Alternatives to a Changing Table

by Heather Campbell, Princess Mommy

Last week, I ran across this news story nearly a dozen times all over my Facebook feed. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard similar stories either. When I posted something on my Facebook page, I found quite a few excuses and even people condoning the situation. As someone who has changed a baby in a restaurant lobby before, I get it. BUT I also realized just how unsanitary of a move that is. It’s never happened again. And now, you never have to do it again either. Mommy-in-training challenged me to make a list of 37 ways to prevent this parenting faux pas so here you go: (I never say no to a challenge!)

Be Prepared:

  1. Don’t assume accommodations will be available.
  2. Always have extra outfits with you in case of a poop explosion.
  3. For babies still wearing onesies, those extra flaps on the shoulders are not intended to fit big headed babes. In fact, they are to remove soiled shirts by slipping them down the child easily so you don’t have poop in baby’s hair or near her face.
  4. Keep sanitizing wipes in your diaper bag. Clean surfaces before and after use.
  5. Keep scented mini trash bags in your diaper bag to immediately conceal the smell. If you have no trash can, this saves your car or stroller from smelling. Even if you are tossing the diaper in a public trash can, it’s polite to use a bag. There’s no telling how often the trash is emptied and keeping public restrooms nice is everyone’s responsibility.
  6. Be sure your children’s diapers fit well. Big messes happen most often when kids are in between sizes or wearing the wrong size.
  7. Try to choose family friendly stops if you’ll be out for a while.
  8. Plan breaks in between errands if you’ll be running around with little ones. This not only helps with diaper changes but helps prevent tantrums too.

Special Notes for Road Trips:

  1. Start practicing sticky situation diaper changes at home.
  2. Are you a cloth diaper user like me? Maybe consider disposables for extra fast changing in less than acceptable circumstances.
  3. If you know your kid poops after eating beans or broccoli or raisins, etc. avoid those food before your trip.
  4. Avoid heavy drinking on road trips.
  5. Don’t be afraid to lay baby on top of the suitcases at a rest stop or on the side of the road.

Now, with that out of the way, if you’ve done everything you can and you happen to be at a local family restaurant that simply doesn’t have a changing table, what do you do?

Scope out the Bathroom First:

  1. Ask an employee for advice.
  2. If available, put a changing pad on the bathroom counter.
  3. Keep an extra blanket in the car or diaper bag, lay it on the floor, put changing pad down and change there. (Think the floor is dirty? Read this. Chances are the floor is no dirtier than that coveted changing table you are longing for.)
  4. Change baby on a bench or seating area inside the restroom. (Normally found in women’s lounge type bathrooms but sometimes in men’s too.)
  5. Change an older child in a standing position in the stall as if they were wearing a pull up.
  6. Have spouse or family member hold the baby (Think Michael Jackson dangling the baby over the balcony.)
  7. Have a spouse or family member hold baby in forearms in a lateral position as if lying on a table.

If nothing in the Bathroom is Suitable:

  1. Wait and just go home. (Even a poopy diaper can wait if you are going right home and aren’t too far away.)
  2. Try a neighboring business if you are in a strip mall type set up.
  3. Use your lap while sitting in a stall. (This works best for small, young babies but isn’t impossible with older ones.)
  4. Get out your stroller and place baby in reclined position.
  5. If baby is in an infant car seat, change her right in the seat.
  6. Lay a blanket in a grassy area near where you are parked.

Options for Changing Diapers in the Car:

  1. Lay child on extra seat of the car.
  2. No extra seat? Stand outside of the car and use YOUR seat.
  3. Use the trunk space of your hatchback, van or SUV.
  4. In a larger vehicle? Use the floor boards of your car.
  5. Fold a seat down and use the back as your “table.”
  6. In colder temps, take as little of the baby’s pants off as possible and bundle a blanket around her sides. Diaper changes are fast. She won’t freeze in the 2-3 minutes you have her bum uncovered.

Let’s say you are at the zoo, beach, park, etc. Many of these places have nothing more than a port-a-potty type set up. So now what?

If Outside:

  1. Use a changing pad on your towel or blanket. Try to be modest. Do NOT leave your trash outside. Take it with you if you have no other choice.
  2. Change baby on a bench.

As An Absolute LAST Resort:

  1. Do NOT use a table. Not a restaurant table. Not a picnic table. If there is any chance that people will eventually be eating on that table, do NOT use it.
  2. Make sure no one is close by. Especially make sure no one is eating nearby. Your baby’s bottom needs to be protected by you. Do not show it off to the world. Modesty. Seriously modesty is a thousand percent the most important thing to remember in this whole post.

If Approached or “Caught” In Any of These Obscure Diaper Changing Moments:

  1. Don’t be confrontational. Explain the situation. State you’ll be cleaning up your mess. There is no reason a simple diaper change should escalate into an argument. Apologize if you’ve offended someone. And be polite.

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Heather Campbell, Princess Mommy

Blogger at Amateur Parenting
Heather Campbell (aka, Princess Mommy) is a red-headed work-at-home mom of three under 4 who lives in the St. Louis metro area. She also blogs at Magical Chaos and Mumbling Mommy. Meet the whole team on our About page.

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