Depending where you go the choice of changing facilities can vary greatly
After you have packed, repacked and stuffed in one or two more items into your bulging baby bag you are ready to anxiously leave the house with your tiny precious baby.
The first six months are the most nerve wrecking leaving the house - how much stuff do you really need to bring? Obviously you need wipes, nappies, barrier creams, nappy bags, soothers, hand sanitiser, a full change of clothes for baby, maybe even for yourself, bibs, noisy toys and soft toys ...
Depending on whether you are bottle feeding or breastfeeding you will probably need liquids, sterilised bottles and added paraphernalia. You could also pack a changing mat, a spare blanket, an umbrella/ shade for the pushchair …. the list goes on!
But say you miraculously don’t forget anything important and make it to your desired destination - you will probably need to change your baby’s nappy, either out of routine, length of time in nappy or because of that revolting smell everyone is turning their nose up to.
When you politely ask (while breaking your back with a bag the size of cabin luggage, a smelly baby and maybe also another child; all the while profusely sweating) where the nearest baby changing facility is; you will encounter one of three answers:
1 - Confusion, met with grunts and suggestions to change your baby on the floor;
2- Directions to the ladies toilet where you must balance your baby on a dangerous ledge;
3 - A dedicated baby changing facility on its own or within a disabled toilet.
Number 3 is obviously the best option, although you may run out of hand sanitiser as you spray it across anything and everything your baby may touch.
Number 2 can be quite handy if you are female. But if you are in fact a man, who you know also likes to leave home with your baby then this leaves you with very little options - only number 1.
I cannot tell you how many times my husband has encountered option number 1, he like many other men must take to the floor to change their baby’s nappy.
It is quite an art form, a skill of the highest proportions to be able to clean your baby, exchange old nappy for new and protect your precious wriggly darling from unknown floor germs. If you also have a toddler with you, well that is a whole other germ game. It is exhausting and can sometimes ruin a nice family day out.
The number of places providing male and unisex baby changing facilities are on the rise which is great as more businesses realise that fathers and men in general like to get out and about with babies. I too have encountered the change the baby on the floor option, but it is rare, although still disgusting.
We have made many a decision on family outings based on previous experiences with baby changing facilities, so it is important for businesses, restaurants, cafes and entertainment centres to factor small babies in, their comfort equals parent's happiness.
The good news is that as your baby moves past the nine month mark, the over sterilisation and your general cleanliness standard will start to slip.
By the time they make it to 12 months, one nappy and a pack of wipes will be all you need to travel for a few hours or even to get a bit of quick cleaning done in your house!
That is until you start potty training - now that really is a messy affair that may scar you for life and rule out ever leaving the house again!