DesignFail: baby-changing station

December 2, 2010 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

O'Hare International Airport men's room, Terminal H

We spent the Thanksgiving holiday traveling (never again!), and while JJ did reasonably well, there were a few things that definitely challenged our patience ā€” like the baby-changing station shown in the photo above.

Can you guess what’s wrong with the design of this changing table (other than it basically being a sign slapped onto a former handicapped sink)? I’ll give you a clue: it rhymes with spelectrical sproutlet.

I don’t know if the ladies’ room also had the same retro-ill-fitted changing stations, but I would be surprised. I’ve found that only newer building have well made changing stations or tables in the men’s room. They sometimes even have a “family restroom” where you can change diapers, breast feed, play board games, etc. But many older buildings have added changing tables to the little boys’ room as an afterthought, often in inconvenient or poorly thought out places.

The absolute worst changing table I’ve come across is in DC’s Union Station (food court level). The table was the foldout variety, placed at the end of a narrow room between 2 walls of urinals. Even if the urinals weren’t being used, it puts baby awfully close to all sorts of nastiness. I ended up infiltrating the women’s room, where the table was just inside the door ā€” it allowed me to face the wall with my back to the (presumably) surprised females patronizing this particular facility.

The only time I’ve found no changing table whatsoever was in the men’s room of my partner’s Catholic high school, when we were attending his reunion last year. Shocker, right? Luckily a very accommodating administrator allowed me to change JJ on the table in the teacher’s lounge. When God closes a door, he opens a kitchenette.

So while we’re in sharing mode, what public restroom horror stories do you have?

O'Hare changing station, with additional signage by Designer Daddy.

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9 responses to “DesignFail: baby-changing station”

  1. Ira says:

    I think you need to design a pacifier that has an outlet cover where the handle usually is. Then it can do double duty. Note I am NOT suggesting its use as an outlet cover while still attached to baby.

    I have no restroom horror stories other than that one time with a Senator in the Minneapolis Airport, but we don’t talk about that incident.

    • Brent M. Almond says:

      I actually saw said senator standing outside an airport restroom not long after. I think it was Memphis. I took a pic with my phone, but it was pretty blurry, otherwise I’d share. šŸ™‚

  2. Lisa says:

    OMG I can’t even believe this. How scary!! Stone pooped on our way home from the beach this summer and we went to like 3 gas stations that didn’t even have one in the ladies room which had been very recently updated as they had automatic flushing toilets and the sinks that work by sensor. I had to change him in the car which was already cramped! UGH!! I feel your pain!

    • Brent M. Almond says:

      Yeah, changing in the car is a hassle. Just wait til Stone starts to get bigger and wiggle around incessantly! šŸ™‚

  3. Teri says:

    Not such a huge fan of family restroooms myself. At least in arenas where alcohol is being consumed. Let’s just say an Aerosmith concert, family restroom, drunk man forgets to lock door. Urinal out in the open and ummm well you can guess the rest. šŸ™‚

    • Brent M. Almond says:

      I can barely stand to use the restroom at arenas, so I can’t imagine having to change a baby there. Hopefully no one had diaper-age kids at the concert…

  4. tom says:

    Sometimes, it’s just better to use the floor. Thanks for the good words on Jesus has 2 Daddies. And yes, it’s an open adoption.

  5. Nick (JJ's other, non-designer dad) says:

    As I was trying to change Jon, I found myself incessentaly telling him “no, don’t touch that”, to a point where I wanted to scream out “Am I the only one who thinks that having an open electrical outlet near a baby changing table is a terrible idea!!??” While I appreciate the attempt to allow us dads to take care of our babies, a little more thought in the design would be nice, and not only design, but location as well. While at the Portland Zoo, the changing station was located right behind the doorway, so as I was trying to change Jon, I also had to stick my foot out to avoid getting hit from the door each time it was opened. And then there was the 1st time I changed Jon in a public restroom:

    Jon was just a few days old and we were in Starbucks (yes, have to start him young on the Pumpkin Spice Frappucinos!), and he needed to be changed. I brought him into the bathroom which had a well designed and comfortable changing station…except that the bathroom was cavernous and thus amplified all sounds, including a crying baby. So Jon cried because of not wanting to be changed, and SCREAMED because he got scared of his own loud, echoing crying. Of course, everyone in Starbucks was probably wondering what the heck I was doing to our poor child, so I avoided looking at anyone as I left the bathroom. I little more sound dampening would work wonders!

    • Brent M. Almond says:

      I can attest that yes, everyone in Starbucks was exchanging glances of concern mixed with pity for the poor soul in the restroom with our little howler monkey. Good job, Papa!

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