About a year ago, I walked into the bathroom at a trendy Thai restaurant near our house with my daughter and all of my diaper gear only to find there was slight problem.
There was no diaper changing station in the restroom, and there wasn’t any bathroom surface that I could easily turn into a spot for a quick diaper change.
Sometime while your little one is still wearing diapers, you’ll inevitably find yourself in a similar situation, if you haven’t already been there (and you’re especially likely to encounter this situation if you’re looking for changing stations in men’s restrooms, as Daddy Doin’ Work recently pointed out).
So today’s hint is eight ways to change a diaper on the go when there’s no changing table near by. And all of these tips assume that you’ve already looked for nearby changing stations using helpful locate-a-changing station services and apps like DiaperChange.me, Diaperpedia, KidzOut.com and WhizzerLite to no avail.
1. Ask for help. In other words, if there’s no changing station at the locale where you are, ask the manager or someone else working there where they suggest you do the diaper deed. You may be surprised – they may be used to this question and direct you to a hidden area (like a storeroom) where you can quickly change a diaper. This suggestion, of course, assumes that you’re somewhere like a restaurant, where there is someone to ask.
2. Return to your car. If you’re traveling by car, your vehicle’s backseat or trunk make great flat spots for a diaper swap. My friends, the same clever ones who figured out how to fly hands-free with a little one without a carrier and who smartly opted for the Ubbi diaper pail, are fans of this trick as you can see in the image above. My friend says their big and very flat trunk is cleaner, and sometimes more convenient, than bathroom changing tables where “there might not be room to maneuver with a wiggly baby.”
They’re not the only ones who like this trick. As dad Cody shared on Babble.com, the back trunk area of his car is “the perfect height for changing diapers” and also “gives me plenty of room to spread out the diaper changing cloth,” the wipes and a dirty-diaper trash bag. The car also makes a great spot for on-the-go diaper changes during long car trips when you don’t want to stop at a rest top (moms over at What to Expect share instructions for how to change a diaper in a car).
3. Go outside and find a grassy spot. Assuming the ground isn’t covered with snow and the weather is pleasant enough, good old Mother Earth offers a great place for a diaper change: a comfortable spot on the ground. For instance, during a recent trip to a Lake Tahoe beach where there was no diaper changing station nearby, let alone a clean restroom, I simply whipped out my changing pad and set up a makeshift changing station right on a grassy spot by the sand.
4. Take over the bathroom sink area. Often times, even if restrooms don’t have changing stations, they’ll have large counter areas near the sinks or elsewhere. Assuming the bathroom isn’t overly crowded with people trying to use the sink, you can probably set up out your changing pad (on top of toilet seat covers, if possible) or a blanket and do the diaper change right near the sink. (As Keryn Means over at Walking on Travels points out, blankets can double as great changing pads when you’re in a pinch or trying to travel lightly). An added bonus of this approach: you’re near the sink so washing your hands after the change is less complicated than it might otherwise be.
5. Try a reclined stroller. As the experts over at WebMD point out, many parents “use the stroller” for a diaper change in public when they’re in a pinch, especially if you lay your changing pad down on the stroller. Plus, to spare any fellow restaurant patrons from the diaper stench, you could take the stroller into the bathroom and do the change there.
6. Changing rooms can be for more than trying on clothes. If you’re at a mall or near a store with dressing rooms, changing rooms can be a great (and private and clean spot) for a quick diaper change.
7. Consider the standing change. If you haven’t tried this yet, you must. Basically, your little one stands up on the floor (or a sink counter) while you crouch down and quickly change his or her diaper. To be sure, this method is easier when you’re just dealing with number one, and it’s not guaranteed to result in a bottom wiped totally clean. Still, a standing change is better than none. And products actually exist to help you with standing changes. Swifty Snap, for instance, makes a number of portable changing pads that are designed to help with standing changes.
8. If all else fails, try your lap. Finally, we all have a built-in changing station on our bodies: our lap. Simply put a changing bad over your upper thighs and change your little one right on your lap (assuming that we’re not dealing with a really dirty diaper – then you might want to just wait until you get home to do the change).
To be sure, some parents do at least some of the methods above all the time because they’d rather not use dirty restroom changing tables. In addition, there are certainly some public places where you probably just don’t want to change a diaper, like a certain Starbucks seating area in Denver and the ten spots Linda Sharps lists over at The Stir.
So you’re probably wondering, what did I do at that Thai restaurant? Well, I’m really embarrassed to admit that I changed my daughter’s diaper on a changing pad on the restaurant booth. Very wrong, I know, but I was only a few months postpartum and probably not thinking clearly. If I had a do-over, I’d simply ask the restaurant manager where I should do the change.
What do you do when there’s no changing station nearby when you need one?