Mandatory Change Tables in Restaurants is Not the Answer

Peak Parental Entitlement Unlocked

Mandatory Change Tables in Restaurants is Not the Answer

Baby change tables mandatory

Being a parent is tough sometimes. Things that used to be so simple when you had only yourself to consider become a logistical nightmare the minute you have a tiny helpless human in your care.

Take going to a restaurant: it’s something that makes you feel like an adult, to be able to leave your home, put on clothes that aren’t covered in spit-up, and have someone else cook you a meal for once.

With all this in mind, I can sympathize with the woman who recently was “forced” to change her child’s diaper on a table in a restaurant near Ottawa. By "sympathize," I mean understand the momentary insanity she must have experienced when choosing to expose the entire restaurant of paying customers to her child's soiled diaper.

Look; I get it. Changing a child on the floor, balancing on a pedestal sink, or in the trunk of your car (that’s right) is annoying and infuriating. Every restaurant that wishes to provide good service should have a change table or at the very least provide some kind of reasonable alternative. There are some simple things restaurants can do to give parents a hand but it’s quite a leap to suggest that anything should be mandatory.

The problem with parents (and I include myself here) is that we think our kids are just as important to everyone else as they are to us. Fact is, a restaurant, or any other business for that matter, should have the right to decide what level of service it wished to provide to parents. The woman in this recent incident is calling on the province of Ontario to make change table mandatory in all restaurants. Family restrooms are already mandatory in all new large restaurants built in Ontario, but the logistics of installing a change table in every café, sushi counter, and hipster pancake shack is unreasonable.

If parents want to encourage more restaurants to install change tables, and generally be more kid-friendly, the way to accomplish that is with your wallet. Support businesses that accommodate kids, and maybe, just maybe, understand that some businesses just don’t, and that’s OK. When my wife and I go on our monthly date to the hipster joint that serves pig's ear on an old licence plate - I don't want kids there either! This is a decision a business should be allowed to make.

If you think finding a change table at a restaurant is hard, try being a dad. I can’t count how many times there have been change tables in the women’s restroom but not the men’s. Thankfully I am past the diaper stage with my kids, but I have definitely had to knock on a few ladies room doors and declare my intention to enter so I could change my daughter. As parents we’re use to doing what we have to do to keep our kids comfortable and happy but forcing thousands of small businesses, some with barely enough room for a bathroom at all, to install change tables is not the right answer.

No one “forced” this mother to disrupt everyone’s meal by changing her child’s diaper on a public restaurant table. That is a decision (a poor one) she made, whereas thousands of moms and dads understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them, or their child, and choose a more sensible path. 

We may be reaching “peak parental entitlement” here. I know it’s hard to understand that this perfect little being that you are charged with protecting isn’t as important to everyone else, but it’s something that all parents have to check in themselves. I am philosophically opposed to putting additional rules and regulations on business unless they are safety related. The way we express our support or disapproval is with our patronage, not by trying to force businesses to make our lives easier.

Always carry a change pad, some disinfectant, and develop a knack for improvising, that is how to manage an emergency diaper situation.

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