President Obama Signs Babies Act to Put Changing Tables in Men’s Rooms in Federal Buildings

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(Via Giphy)

It’s utterly infuriating to go to change a baby’s diaper and see that the only changing table is in the women’s bathroom. The assumption that only women change diapers is galling. The world is full of men who change diapers, and putting the tables only in women’s rooms is extremely inconvenient. It means that when a baby is traveling with both male and female parents, the female parent is automatically the diaper changer. And when a baby is traveling with a male parent or parents, then what do you do? Dad has to take the baby into the women’s room to change the diaper, and that’s can be awkward.

Even when having a changing table in the women’s room is not a practical inconvenience, it looks bad and sends the wrong message. But more often than not, the women’s restroom will have a changing table, and the men’s room will be tableless. (Sometimes there are gender-neutral family restrooms designed for changing babies, and that’s pretty great, too.)

It’s not fair to anybody to act like diaper-changing is only a woman’s job. Even when I’m out without the baby, if I see that a restaurant only has a changing table in the women’s room, it pisses me off and I feel disinclined to visit the restaurant again, with or without the baby.

Now, however, President Obama has signed the “Babies Act,” which mandates that baby-changing stations be available in all public bathrooms of Federal buildings, even in men’s rooms. Yay! This applies to bathrooms intended for public use in public buildings, so it would not necessarily apply to employee-only bathrooms. And if there is already an accessible changing table on the same floor of the building, a new one doesn’t have to be added. But you can’t just put changing tables in the women’s rooms and call it a day.

This is definitely a step in the right direction. It’d be great if more retailers and restaurants would do it, too.