I remember the moment clearly. I was at the park playing with my baby son, when my sharp senses advised me he was in critical need of a diaper change. No cause for alarm. All I had to do was take him to the men’s room, slap on a new diaper and he’d be good to go. Right?
Wrong. Because the men’s room – like so many others – did not have a changing table.
Normally, I would have used the back of the car, but the parking lot was too far away. There was a bench, but it was occupied by a trio of elderly nannies. So I told the other kids the playground tunnel was closed for maintenance – and I turned it into poopy central.
Don’t complain, America. You put me in that position with your utter disregard for the needs of the modern dad. Besides, I’m hardly the only guy who’s had to improvise.
Consider the case of Donte Palmer.
Palmer found himself in a similar situation when he was with his wife and three sons at a Jacksonville restaurant. When baby Liam started crying, Palmer knew it was time for a diaper change. He and his 12-year-old son, Isaiah, took Liam to the men’s room.
Sure enough, there was no changing station.
So Palmer positioned himself against a wall and squatted, turning his thighs into a table. While he changed Liam’s diaper on his lap, 12-year-old Isaiah took pictures of their predicament. Some time later, Palmer posted one of the pics to Instagram with this caption:
“This is a serious post!!! What’s the deal with not having changing tables in men’s bathroom as if we don’t exist!!…Let’s fix this problem! #squatforchange.”
“I have three kids so I’ve been doing this for quite some time,” Palmer tells Parentology. “This is just the first time I got it on camera.”
Palmer’s post took off, and it wasn’t long before Pampers took notice. Inspired by Palmer’s call to action, the diaper company has partnered with changing table company Koala Kare to install 5,000 changing tables in men’s restrooms all over North America.
And now Palmer isn’t the only one squatting for change. Dads all over the Internet are posting photos of themselves doing the very same thing.
“A lot of dads have sent me pictures of them squatting,” Palmer says. “One dad has twins and one twin is disabled, confined to a wheelchair, and it’s hard for him to change his child when there’s no changing table. He has to leave the restaurant, carry the boys to the car, change the baby, and then come back to the meal he left on the table. It sends the wrong message to fathers, like they’re not welcome there.”
It isn’t the first time this issue has been in the spotlight. In 2016, President Obama passed the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act, which requires that changing tables be installed in public restrooms. But the act does not stipulate tables be installed in ALL bathrooms in a building. Not only that, but retailers and restaurants are excluded from the mandate.
“In many ways, fathers are looked at as just big macho men [who aren’t nurturing], but we’re sensitive when it comes to our babies,” Palmer says. “I just want to change the narrative. I want to change the image of what a father looks like.”
According to CNN, Pampers and Koala Kare will start installing changing stations in “high-need” areas like parks and libraries, beginning with cities like Cincinnati, Dallas, and Detroit. Five hundred locations will get their new tables in the next few weeks.
Want to join the #SquatForChange movement? Visit their website and join the Squatters Talk.