In Case You Didn’t Get The Memo, A Restaurant Table Is Not An Appropriate Place To Change A Diaper

shutterstock_80571844I can’t even believe this has to be said. Don’t change your baby’s diaper on a public table that people eat off of, okay? Also, don’t change your baby’s diaper around the general public while they are attempting to consume food. Get it? Got it? Good.

The Dear Abby column yesterday included a letter from a small restaurant owner who was horrified to learn that a woman had changed a diaper on her table during his restaurant’s lunch service:

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I run a restaurant in a small town. Recently, my wife came home on my day off and told me that during the lunch hour, one of our servers had come into the kitchen and announced that they’d need extra sanitizer on table 29 because a mother was changing her baby on it!

What has happened in our society that people don’t understand that this is unsanitary and rude? Had I been there, I don’t know that I could have kept a civil tongue, and I feel like people today regard my disgust as unreasonable. Is there something I’m missing here? — CAFE CRAZY

DEAR “CRAZY”: I don’t know who you have been talking to, but your disgust is not ”unreasonable.” What that mother was missing was common sense and courtesy for those around her. I agree that changing a baby on a restaurant table was out of the ballpark — particularly if a changing table was available in the women’s restroom of your cafe. (I’m assuming there is one, but if there isn’t, the situation should be immediately rectified.)

Everything about my child amazes me. Even his little morning baby breath and the disgusting habit he has of sucking on his entire hand. Yet even I understand that bodily waste is disgusting. I may not be disgusted by my own child’s – since I love him more than life itself and he emerged from my womb. But I clearly understand that the rest of the world won’t feel the same about it. What is up with parents who can’t comprehend this?

It sucks when restaurants don’t offer changing tables. Not even sure if that was the case here, but I am going to go ahead and give this woman the benefit of the doubt. Even if a proper changing table isn’t an option, if it’s an infant, you should be able to lay him over your lap in the bathroom and change him. And if he’s big enough to stand, you can change him standing up. It’s nearly impossible, but better than exposing people who are paying to eat food in a public place to fecal matter.

Come on people. Let’s get on the same page here.

(photo: hxdbzxy/


Be Sociable, Share!
You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
Be Sociable, Share!
  • meg

    That is so vile and unsanitary, I would have thrown them out of the restaurant instantly.

    • Frances Bean

      If I was even another patron I would have made at least a little bit of a stink and shamed them out. Yuck! No one should be subjected to that! lol!

  • Mary Sue

    Ive heard women justify changing their baby at restaurant tables before – saying they felt that it was a valid choice if there wasn’t a changing table in the restroom because they felt entitled to everything outside their home being accommodating to their baby. Rude. If you can’t make changing the baby work without a table in the bathroom, you could always change them on the seat of your car or even lay a blanket down in the trunk. Or, if you aren’t too far away – just go home! Unless it’s a major blowout, your baby will be OK in a messy diaper for 5 minutes.

    Many small cafes have very small bathrooms that couldn’t fit a changing table even if they wanted one. If the cafe didn’t have a changing table, I don’t agree with Abby that they should have to put one in. It’s a convenience, and it’s nice, but it’s not a necessity.

    • meg

      Precisely! And if you’re upset that the cafe/bar/whatever doesn’t offer a changing table, *don’t patronize that establishment.* You aren’t “sticking it to the man” by changing your child on their table, you’re creating an unhygienic and DISGUSTING situation for all the other people eating there, for the waiters and busboys (who have no control over what is or is not in the bathroom), and for your dining companions. It’s rude on a whole different level.

    • Guerrilla Mom

      I know – it makes no sense. Moms have to be a little more resourceful than that!

  • LiteBrite

    That’s why I always carried a blanket in my diaper bag. That way, should a changing table not be available, I could lay my son down on the bathroom floor and take care of business.

  • Christine

    I have to disagree with this one, and I’ll tell you why: our friend’s local Denny’s, which I think is pretty obviously a family restaurant, has no change tables in the bathroom. -35 outside and a squirmy baby – what would you suggest? I used the bathroom sink, but I would have felt completely justified using a table. If you have high chairs, you should supply change tables (we have laws about bathroom size here, so that’s no excuse). And please don’t suggest the bathroom floor, because when its snowy outside, the bathroom floor gets damp and dirty and gross.

    I don’t understand how establishments can be family-oriented, offer crayons and kids menus and whatnot, and not have change tables. Rant over.

    • Lily

      Because people have the right to eat off tables that haven’t been in contact with faeces or urine.

      If you don’t want to show consideration for others, then don’t go out. Or, call in advance to check what facilities are available and make your choices based on that. People should not have to have exposed the faeces during their meals just because you were unprepared.

    • Tea

      So the floor is gross, but table somehow isn’t? People aren’t paying to eat next to or on a biohazard. I sure hope their disinfectant is potent.

      Call in advance if you need to, or ask at the hostess podium, it’s what anyone else who needs accommodations but isn’t sure if they’re available does.

    • lea

      Christine, it is disgusting to change a baby’s diaper on a table from which people consume their food and I cannot believe you or anyone else would consider it justifiable!

      Would you be happy for your child to eat from a table that had just had a strangers poopy nappy changed on it? Do you realise the kinds of nasty infections that are spread via the faecal-oral route?

      Next time your child has a tummy bug, consider that was contracted from somebody else’s faecal material getting into their mouth. Then tell me again how justified you’d feel to change your baby on a table top.


    • RCIAG

      Christine said she changed the baby in the bathroom on the sink. Not quite the same as doing it on the table where everyone else eats.

    • Justme

      The world does not revolve around you and your baby Christine. Sorry to break it to you.

    • Lawcat

      Absolutely disgusting. You are not entitled to commander a table THAT YOU DON’T OWN to change your child’s diapers on to make a point. There are other options, you’re just lazy and entitled. And vile. Ugh.

    • Angel Ann

      * commandeer

    • Ipsedixit

      Hey, Christine. I’m going to come over to your house and defecate on your dining room table. Because, if you’re willing to change your child’s diaper on a public table, I’m going to guess you’re bathroom is as dirty and gross as your manners.

    • Christine

      Guys, calm down. I used the bathroom sink so my kid’s ass didn’t get frostbite from being outside (or hepatitis from being on the bathroom floor – it was truly disgusting. You know when you look at a floor and worry that your pants hem might drag in it. That’s what it was like.). I’m just saying that if you claim to be a family restaurant, you need to provide family friendly facilities. I assumed that Denny’s was a family restaurant, as it has a kid’s menu, high chairs, and it’s usually full of screaming toddlers. They handed my 9 month old a pack of crayons, but there was no place to change her diaper. I haven’t been back since, as I am aware that no one wants to eat my kid’s shit (but thanks for the reassurance about that, I really appreciate it). If they wanted my money, they would have provided appropriate facilities, but as they didn’t, they can take their Moon Over My-Hammy and shove it.

      And thanks for the personal attacks, those were fun too. My house, fyi, is spotless, as I have this problem with cleaning my feelings. And thanks for the offer to defecate on my dining room table, but I’m good. And believe it or not, I’m aware that the world doesn’t revolve around me and my toddler. You guys are a super fun bunch.

      I have never hit anyone with my stroller. I have never yelled at anyone for ringing my doorbell or touching my child. I have never had a screaming baby in a mall or a restaurant, because if anything, I err on the side of not leaving my house. This is why I’m on the internet on a Monday afternoon.

      P.S. Don’t be a douche. It was -35, and we were 7 hours drive from home. Skin freezes in less than a minute in that temperature. They cancel school at that temperature, because school buses don’t start. I USED THE BATHROOM SINK. IT WAS A PEE DIAPER. I WASHED OFF THEIR DIRTY COUNTER AFTERWARD, and it clearly hadn’t been touched by a cloth in hours.. I don’t think this qualifies as lazy, entitled, or disgusting.

    • freemane

      Sorry people were so rude. I’m totally with you on this one, if it’s to cold for me to take my pants off outside, it’s to cold for my kid. And anyplace that markets toward children should really have appropriate sanitary facilities.

    • Shea

      Yes, restaurants and other public places should have changing tables. But the fact that they don’t does not mean parents have the right to subject innocent diners to their baby’s bodily waste. It’s unsanitary and disgusting. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    • freemane

      I in no way disagree with that. Bodily waste (and I suppose all other bio-hazards if we want to be technical) should not come in contact with eating surfaces. But I could never condone the horrible rudeness and hatefulness people have shown here. For all I know, the parent mentioned in the post had no better option, or maybe they did, either way Christine’s comment showed a level of empathy that more people should strive to achieve.

    • Shea

      Certainly nastiness is not called for, I agree with you there. But I just can’t imagine that changing the baby on a restaurant table was the best option that parent had. Even if the other options weren’t good (taking the baby out to the car, laying a blanket on the bathroom floor), unless the parent was trapped in the restaurant and the floor was covered in sewage, there is no excuse for using a restaurant table. Being rude and mean isn’t okay, but I also don’t think one has to be understanding about this issue. Purposely exposing other diners to one’s child’s dirty diapers, in my opinion, shows a high level of either self-absorption or willful disregard for the comfort of one’s fellow restaurant patrons.

    • Angel Ann

      Lap or bathroom floor is always an option-wtf?

    • Angel Ann

      Changing tables didn’t always exist. They are a luxury and not a necessity. Every decent parent knows that as long as baby is in tow, there are certain things you should have with you, such as a changing pad and a blanket. If it’s too cold for taking your child out to the car from the establishment, then it’s too cold to drive them there in the first place. Don’t be stupid. There are always a ton of options and why is everyone forgetting about the parents lap???

    • Sam

      Why the fuck were you out in -35 degree weather 7 hours from home with a small child who could die? Did you not change her the entire rest of your trip home? Is that why you couldn’t possibly have gone outside? Or, I dunno, not stopped at Denny’s or order some freaking delivery if it is too dangerous to even take your kid outside in? You aren’t just lazy and entitled and disgusting, you are down right negligent.

    • competitivenonfiction

      I don’t think you’ve ever truly experienced internet commenting until someone has threatened to defecate on your dining room table.

    • Brenda

      Dying laughing…

    • Christine

      Oh, and one more thing. When any of you consider other mothers, and how judgmental they can be, remember that time when you were unreasonably mean to a stranger on the internet. Isn’t anonymity fun?

    • Angel Ann

      I would suggest anywhere that is not a preparation or consumption area for food and drink. I realise you changed your baby on the sink. Good job. I’ve done it. But why was the floor not an option when every parent in their right mind knows that you always have a changing pad and blanket when baby is in tow? Changing tables didn’t always exist and if it’s warm enough for you to have brought the child in the first place, it’s certainly warm enough for you to take baby back into the car for a change even if that means you keeping in snuggled in your arms until the heat has warmed the vehicle to your liking. You have to do that when leaving, anyway. So please tell me what the difference is? And don’t answer anything to the effect of too much effort or you’ll get called out on being a lazy parent.

  • Katie

    Ugh, people never cease to amaze me.

    I am a librarian at a public library. Our library has not just a change table in the bathroom, we have a CHILDREN’S BATHROOM with 6 change tables and two mini-sized toilets.

    We still get parents changing their children on the floor in the kids area of the library, or on the desks where people study. Usually, when we point out the children’s bathroom to these parents, the typical reply is “Oh that’s okay, I’m fine here” well, we’re not fine with you doing in here, hence why we spent so much money to build this bathroom.

    It’s just lack of consideration for others, and the failure to realise that the world does not revolve around you.

  • Shelly Lloyd

    Our neighborhood club house has a gym, and one morning when I was on the treadmill there was a group of moms hanging out in the lounge area having coffee and pastries. They had a couple of toddlers and babies with them. Well one mom gets up from the group of ladies bring her baby into the gym, lays out a changing pad and proceeds to change the baby’s stinky diaper right there in the gym. I was like “What are you doing?” and she was like “Oh, I thought it was empty in here.” I know our gym is bigger than most club houses’ gyms, but really it is only one freaking room! She saw me. I said, “how could you not see me? And anyways, it’s a gym, not a bathroom or a changing station.” She was like, “I don’t want to take my baby into a dirty bathroom, he could get sick….” I swear some people are just crazy.

    • Emmali Lucia

      I would have responded with “You do realize that gyms are COVERED in MRSA, right?”

  • Dlee

    Places I have changed my kid’s dirty nappy when the obvious is unavailable:

    The back seat of the car
    His pram
    My lap
    The floor on top of a change mat or burp cloth

    Places I have not changed a kid’s nappy:

    The table I or any other normal person is about to eat on! WHAT THE FLYING BLUE FUCK IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?!

    • Angel Ann

      Agreed. I’ve only been a mother for 8 months and I’ve had to get creative at times but it’s not difficult. I’ve changed my daughter on the trunk of our car, in the trunk when it’s very windy, hot or the car is filled with my step children and my husband, my lap, a flat boulder, restroom countertops, restroom floors or I just took her home if we were 5-10 minutes away. People can be so inconsiderate of others!

  • Calm European

    On a recent holiday to Spain, many of the restaurants didn’t have changing facilities. The owners always invited us to use an empty table at the back of the restaurant. It was fine. We have a changing mat. We used it. We wiped the area down after with antibac wipes. Nobody died. Calm down.

  • Pingback: Mom Changes Diaper In The Middle Of Chipotle Dining Room()