Sometimes it takes a celebrity to bring to light a topic that we’ve always just dealt with, but have never really been discussed on a national level. Back in May 2015, Ashton Kutcher made his frustrations known when he lamented being unable to change baby daughter Wyatt’s diaper when he was out and about. He even went so far as to start a Change.org petition calling out gender stereotyping and demanding changing facilities in men’s bathrooms within major retailers. Signed by over 100,000 supporters, Kutcher made his point clear.
Parents have long expressed frustration about the lack of changing tables in public spaces like restaurants, taking it so far as to change diapers on dining tables instead. “Don’t like it?” parents ask, “Then install the proper facilities.” And rebuttal: “Parents nowadays are so entitled, how did previous generations ever manage?”
Now dads (and moms) everywhere can rejoice, because President Obama just signed the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act, or if you will, the BABIES Act. The BABIES act requires both female and male restrooms to be equipped with baby changing facilities. Though this law currently only covers public federal buildings such as Social Security offices, post offices or courthouses, many see this law as a stepping stone to covering spaces such as restaurants or retailers.
As a parent myself, I can attest that while I prefer establishments to equip their restrooms with changing facilities, I have learned to get creative on the go. Though some restaurants like to draw a line in the sand when it comes to determining its “family friendly” status or not, others have found that when it comes to targeting millennial parents, such distinctions aren’t as effective. Unlike previous generations, millennials with kids are putting their children first. What does that mean for you? People are going to have small children, and they will probably bring their small children into your restaurant; and as I am also a millennial parent who loves to dine out, this rings even more true to me.
I’ve often wondered why a restaurant would provide high chairs but not also baby changing facilities. Restaurants have no legal obligation to provide high chairs or booster seats, though many do to accommodate their guests. Still, it’s safe to assume that a child in a high chair would still be in diapers, which begs the question—why accommodate one part of the dining experience but not the other? Maybe you want to make a point that you’re not a kid-friendly establishment, or maybe you just don’t like the appearance of a changing table within your restroom. Whatever the reason is, consider this—just knowing there’s a changing table accessible means no one has to worry about dining table hygiene (both parents and non-parents alike). Baby changing stations are easy to install and can fit in most places. Plus, with new stainless steel and recessed options, you’re sure to find an attractive solution no matter what type of establishment you own.
It’s up to you (for now) if you want to welcome this large demographic of customers or not. In today’s world, don’t be surprised when dad comes in tow with a baby strapped to his chest and a little one trailing behind, asking where the changing facilities are in your men’s room. Be aware of the statement your restaurants are making (intentionally or not).