Vancouver mom maps change tables in the city | Vancouver Sun

Michelle Cyca is on a mission to save parents from changing diapers on bathroom floors

Vancouver mom Michelle Cyca was out for lunch with her six-month-old son Cassidy when he needed a diaper change. But the deli they were at didn’t have a change table and she ended up changing her baby on the grimy bathroom floor. Travel Foldable Baby Wash Basin

Vancouver mom maps change tables in the city | Vancouver Sun

“I think every parent has done that at least once,” said Cyca, who has heard many harrowing stories from parents who have had to change their babies’ nappies in less than safe and sanitary conditions.

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She’s also gone through the experience with her daughter, now four. This time, she decided to do something about it.

On New Year’s Day, Cyca launched a baby change-table mapping project that’ll show which Metro restaurants, cafés and businesses have, or lack, change tables — information that’s surprisingly hard to come by, she said.

She’s inviting people to submit information about change table availability of places they know about.

As of Thursday, about 85 places are listed on the Vancouver Change Tables Map, mostly in Vancouver, but including other municipalities like Richmond, North Vancouver, and Langley.

Taking babies out and about can already be an ordeal for parents and not having a place to change their diapers makes it more challenging, especially in the winter when they can’t swap nappies on a picnic blanket or in the trunk of a car, said Cyca.

“When you’re a parent, it’s important to get out of your house because it can be so lonely and isolating in some cases to have a little baby.”

About 11 days in, Cyca has gained some insights.

Many places that seem kid-friendly, offering high chairs and kids menus, for example, don’t have change tables. “It feels like an oversight. They’re not thinking about that as a need.”

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Thanks to a recent submission, she’s found out that some breweries in Vancouver are surprisingly parent-friendly venues. Japanese restaurants, in general, also seem to have change tables installed in washrooms, as do local chains such as Earls, and Tap and Barrel. And community centres and libraries are safe bets.

Wherever there are change tables, however, they’re usually in women’s washrooms, excluding men who are on diaper duty.

After hearing from several dads about the issue, Cyca added a field for people to specify whether a change table is located in the women’s washroom or in a gender-neutral bathroom or location accessible for men.

The map currently uses three colours: Red for places with no change tables; yellow for sites with change tables located in women’s washrooms; and green for change tables accessible to both genders.

“I’d like to add a fourth colour where the change tables are only in men’s bathrooms, but I have yet to hear that scenario,” said Cyca wryly.

Aside from saving parents from having to change diapers on the floor, Cyca hopes the project would also encourage people to think about making public spaces more inclusive for parents and babies.

“It does often feel we are a society that’s not super welcoming of babies,” she said. “But babies are people and members of society, and it would be nice if their needs are met.”

There are no regulations that require businesses to have baby change tables in washrooms. And Cyca is sympathetic to businesses, many of which may face financial or space constraints. But if business owners are building a new space, renovating, or have spacious washrooms, a change table would be a welcome addition, she said.

“It’s a small way for businesses to extend inclusivity to parents and kids.”

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Vancouver mom maps change tables in the city | Vancouver Sun

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