STFU Parents: Restaurant Tables Don’t Double As Changing Tables For Your Baby

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One of my biggest pet peeves, as anyone who’s read STFU, Parents can attest, is the somewhat recent (?) phenomenon of diaper changing entitlement. Perhaps this is the kind of thing one only notices as she ages, but I could’ve sworn I never saw anyone change a baby diaper on a restaurant table or a movie theater seat when I was growing up. It seemed like magic — people with babies would disappear for a short time after the baby shat himself, and then they would suddenly re-appear, cleaned-up baby in tow.

1. illinoisConsidering changing tables weren’t even commonly installed until the late ’80s / early ’90s, it’s bizarre to think that 2015 has a seemingly much higher rate of parents using public surfaces as changing tables (with or without a changing pad, depending on the obnoxiousness of the parent). Plus, cars have grown a lot, too! Back in the day, changing your baby in your car might have meant squatting in a parking lot, attempting to wrangle your writhing, dirty child in a Gremlin the size of a breadbox. (Remember breadboxes?) Nowadays, people can change their babies in Chevy Tahoes the size of my Brooklyn apartment. I imagine them spreading out in these air conditioned vessels, changing their babies on sheepskin rugs that lay upon supple, caramel-colored leather seats as they watch a live-stream of a tennis tournament on their car headrest monitors and sip a Diet Coke with a straw before placing it back in its special cup cradle. And yet parents STILL insist on changing their babies on public surfaces such as restaurant tables if there are no “official” changing tables (ideally made of eco-friendly materials) in the bathrooms. It’s one of the best examples of parental entitlement that exists, and it proves that if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.

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In the case of who can be more annoying in restaurants — parents, or their children – the jury’s still out. But when it comes to diaper changing, there is only one clear answer: It is never, ever okay to change your baby on a public eatery table where people dine with food they put into their mouths. Even if you put down a pad. Even if you “sanitize” the area, or you expect someone else to sanitize it for you. It’s wrong, and as long as STFU, Parents is around, I will make it my mission to shame these foul parents for assuming that the world should cater to their diaper-soiling poop machines.

Don’t get me wrong — babies are babies, and you can’t really control when a child is going to have a blowout, or need a simple diaper change at an inopportune time. No one is criticizing babies for crapping themselves or parents for cleaning them up. The issue in question is the WHERE, not the why.

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The most entertaining part of this stinky faux pas, if there’s any entertainment to be gleaned, is that the types of parents who commit these diaper crimes are so up their own ass, they feel wholly justified in their actions. It’s like watching a dog lick his own balls without abandon. “What? You got a problem or something?” Parents who choose to subject other diners, as well as restaurant employees, to their diaper changing display feel convinced that public spaces don’t cater to parents like they should. There just aren’t enough changing tables. And maybe that’s true! Maybe one day, every bar and restaurant bathroom in North America will feature custom Tempur-Pedic changing tables that play popular children’s music and offer free, organic baby wipes made by Kiehl’s, but for now, that’s not the case. And that leaves some (annoying) parents with a bitter pill to swallow.


One woman in Ottawa thinks changing tables (inside privately-owned establishments) should be mandatory. Another filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau after she was asked to leave a restaurant, which is also what Chipotle will do if you attempt to change your baby’s diaper in a room full of bean-eating burrito lovers. Maybe it’s because if you DO change your baby’s diaper on a dining table, there’s a decent chance some feces will “land on the floor near the table” and quickly get ingested by a toddler, who will later contract a bacterial infection. Maybe. Meanwhile, across the globe in Russia, a kid takes a dump on a grocery store floor. Isn’t the world a funny place?

The one positive thing I will say about this nasty habit some parents have is that much of the ire tends to be directed at family friendly restaurants rather than upscale eateries. I’ve yet to hear of a case where parents changed their baby’s diaper on a white linen tablecloth at a Michelin-starred restaurant, so that’s helpful for all you foodies out there laying down half of a mortgage payment on dinner. For everyone else, this column may be the motivation you need to never eat at a prototypical “family” restaurant or fast food joint ever again, if you were looking for that kind of push. If you’re the type who likes to dine-in at McDonald’s, however, you’re shit out of luck. Let’s take a look at some parents who really need to learn that restaurant tables do not double as changing tables for their babies.

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