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Why baby changing stations in public spaces?

A baby changing station is essentially a changing area where a caregiver can safely and securely change a child’s diaper/nappy. 

They are flexible and very practical to use, and only in recent years have they become more common for on the move parents. Common places you will find them in washrooms, high end hotels and some of the common restaurants. 

There’s a lot of questions which surround baby changing stations and the need to have them in public washrooms across the nation. Is it a requirement? Are there enough installed in both male and female facilities? What about toilets for people living with disabilities? It’s without a doubt that we need to consider the needs of mother’s and fathers in any location. Babies will make a mess, it’s what they’re good at, right? You can also think of the love you feel for your baby, the one that endures everything. For babies, changing a diaper is basically how they toilet. How do you feel when you travel or you make a stop to relieve yourself?

When you hear the term “diaper change” you may think of all kinds of horrific images, the kind that no one would like to perceive. A more vivid and horrific experience is that of Ms. Peninah. (wow mom founder) Years ago while she was traveling with her daughter, she was unfortunate when her child soiled her diapers and she was on the lower side of the central business district. She could not find a decent space she could tend to her child privately. She had to walk for about one kilometer to kilometer to access a baby changing station  in a restaurant she knew about and spent Ksh 200 for coffee she didn’t need and take advantage of that time to change her daughter’s diapers. Does changing a baby’s diaper have to be that costly and tedious?.

Imagine another scenario where a  mother, let’s call her Nancy, is a low income woman who brings her baby to CBD to run errands. Her baby soils her diaper and she needs a place to change the baby. She does not have the luxury to go to high end restaurants to buy coffee.  She would have to access a public toilet where she would go ahead and change her baby’s diaper on top of a dusty water tank under scorching sun, or on top of a wet sink top. No hygiene or sanitation since this is a facility used by everyone. The aftermath of this scenario would be the mother feeling very undignified and embarrassed. The baby on the other hand might end up getting sick from infections since most of these public facilities aren’t clean and sanitized and we know babies are very delicate. To add salt to the injury, some public toilet operators do not allow caregivers to safely dispose of soiled diapers in the bins inside the toilet. Can you imagine carrying soiled diapers home for safe disposal. YES! Now you understand why there are so many soiled diapers on the street.

Our very first baby changing station was installed in the baby centre in Quarry Market in Gikomba, Nairobi Kenya . Our baby changing stations are easy to operate, comfortable, easy to clean, and provide ultimate safety for the baby during a diaper change. We have also provided a diaper disposal bin that will ensure that diapers are safely disposed of. The future is bright and we look forward to increasing the access of  baby changing stations not only in Nairobi, but across the country.  While this is a grain of sand in the ocean, we are grateful to spearhead this initiative and can’t wait to scale and make more impact.

A research carried out by WOW MOMs in 2018 revealed that most frequently visited places by children are hospitals 22%, supermarkets 21%, shopping malls 21%, markets 11%, parks 7%, Nairobi CBD 14%, government offices 4%. The places not only need to be child friendly spaces, but they also need to provide accessible baby changing stations for the caregivers. The data proved that there has been a neglect in creating child friendly spaces and baby changing facilities. A baby changing station provides caregivers with a safe space to change their very young children and safely dispose of the diapers. . Changing stations meet the specific needs of infants and toddlers, with their safety as a top priority enhancing their dignity.

There are many benefits to having  baby changing stations in public facilities, and we’re here to tell you a few.

  1. Meet sanitation of children and their caregivers; 
  • This includes the provision and use of facilities and services that assist caregivers to change and dispose of soiled diapers, thereby preventing contamination of the environment. 
  • This also means we will be promoting the practice of handwashing with soap after disposal of diapers, prior to preparing and handling food, before eating and continuing with daily activities.
  1. Enhances comfort and dignity of children; 
  • Human dignity is recognized as a core value in foundational to human rights. Children and their givers should be able to enjoy this freely without feeling ashamed and embarrassed.
  • By providing baby changing stations in public spaces, caregivers will be able to comfortably travel with their children knowing fully well they have a space they can cater to their child’s needs without any ridicule.
  1. Enhance safe diaper disposal
  • Disposal of diapers while in public spaces is very important because we are also encouraging caregivers to take care of the environment.
  • It’s also good to remember, your sanitary habits are of key importance when you’re dealing with a baby.
  1. An indicator that a city/ restaurant values children and caregivers
  • Majority of caregivers avoid the luxury of going to a restaurant and eateries because most spaces may not provide a baby changing station so they would rather eat from home.
  • A public space providing this facility would mean that they care about caregivers’ needs and they are at the forefront of making cities child friendly.
  1. Basic human right
  • The same way adults can be able to access washrooms in public spaces, it is a fundamental right for a caregiver and their child to be able to access a baby changing station with ease.
  • By doing so, caregivers will be able to move out and about with their children while going to work or having leisure activities. 

Caregivers should be able to have an easy going day when they are accompanied with their children. Having your place of business certified as a ‘child friendly space’ is a big step towards  getting caregivers to fully feel safe and know their needs are being considered. It is also a way to encourage your potential customers that they can enjoy your services while accompanied by their infants/toddlers. Wow Mom understands the importance of looking after your child with the best care and products, do you?

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