As if those public changing tables aren’t gross enough already, when moms find out what other things people use them for – well, they’ll feel the horror. Okay, so they smell that smell, that public washroom smell. Their nose starts twitching, Their whole body is cringing and they kind of throw up a little bit in their mouths (and we totally don’t blame them).
One quick look and they know what’s up. A diaper change is needed immediately, and mom has no time to spare.
So, what’s the problem? She's in the middle of the mall. She could run out to her car and do one of those backseat changes. But, she's kind of thinking that what’s inside the diaper is way too messy for that (and the smell, oh the smell). With baby in hand, she heads to nearest public bathroom. And, there it is – the changing table.
It’s not exactly like the antique ivory shabby chic table she has at home. There’s no fabric-covered cushion and the strap is – well, less than sanitary.
Mom rolls out as many paper towels as her hands can handle, carefully lines the table and takes care of business. Yeah, that table was not exactly pleasant to use. It’s seen its fair share of baby’s bottoms and mom isn't sure the last time someone gave it a serious scrub down. But, changes aren’t the only yuck-worthy thing that happens on these public baby bathrooms. If moms think diaper duty is bad, check out what else some people use these tables for.
15 Illegal Substances
Yep, that’s right—cocaine. While sniffing the white powder off of something that once held a poopy diaper sounds kind of (okay, way more than kind of) crazy, apparently it actually happens.
A not so stupendously scientific study done by journalists from Real Radio in the UK found that 92 out of 100 changing stations (again, this is in the UK and not in the US) had cocaine residue on them. Yikes!
After wiping changing tables as part of Real Radios Cocaine Unwrapped investigation, the journalists found that yes indeed there were people using these bathroom staples to snort their drugs off of. Sure, it’s not exactly a kid-friendly use. But, beyond that, imagine the safety implications. Scary, isn’t it?
While the same results haven’t been found in the US, just the possibility that an addict is co-opting the changing table and using it for a quick hit of cocaine is enough to make you run screaming.
14 Stupid Internet Fads
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"] Via: Buzzfeed.com[/caption]
Remember planking? It was only a mere few years ago that it took the Internet by storm. Everyone from your BFF to the checkout boy at the grocery store were joining in with this majorly silly trend. Just in case you forgot – planking meant making your body totally rigid and lying face down somewhere.
Of course, a bed or couch wasn’t good enough. People just had to plan in unusual locations. After all, who’s going to like a FB photo if it’s exactly the same as everyone else’s.
The world of planking got gross when people posted pictures of themselves lying face down on public changing tables. Um, just the thought of touching the table is enough to turn most mama’s stomachs. Now imagine laying down on it. Eww!
Not only was the entire Internet ‘sensation’ stupefying enough as is, but add on doing it on a diaper changing table (and, a public one!) and it’s a head scratcher.
Okay, so play-time isn’t exactly the horror of horrors. It’s a completely cute (and totally fun) part of childhood. You baby’s play-time is packed with bright colors, flashing lights and adorable little cartoon characters turned into plush and cuddly stuffed creatures. So, what could be so wrong about this?
Well, imagine that you walk into the public restroom at the mall. There’s TP stuck to the floor and trash can is overflowing with who knows what. The changing table is equally as disgusting. And guess who’s using it for play-time? A baby! Yep, there’s a baby (with mom nearby) hanging out on the table as she plays with a toy-filled tote.
Her little fingers are all over the germ-filled surface and those toys are rolling back and forth across the same space that once held many, many babies bottoms. Yuck! When play-time meets the public changing table, everything goes wrong.
12 Snack Stash
You’ve just finished sprinting through the store when that feeling strikes. You rush to the bathroom, then realize that you have your grocery bags in your hands. Now what? You can’t exactly hold them and take care of your business at the same time. It just won’t happen. There’s the floor. But, most likely all of your food will fall out.
Plus, the floor’s kind of gross. Well, so is a changing table. You keep looking for a place to stash your snacks. Finally you give up and hold the bags with one hand and awkwardly struggle to pee.
While you’re not about using that hanging table to hold your grocery goods, some people could care less. A public baby changing table isn’t a shelf. Even so, that won’t stop all people from using it as one. While someone else putting a flimsy plastic bag filled with grapes, hamburger buns and bottled water onto a changing station won’t hurt you or your baby, it’s still pretty horrible.
You know what happens on that table. Now think about what exactly is spreading to the bottom of that grocery bag.
11 Afternoon Nap
Babies need to sleep. Hey, that’s no big secret. There are plenty of places for tiny tots to take a snooze. And, changing tables aren’t on that list. Even so, it doesn’t always stop every mom from letting her little one drift off on the table. Baby’s getting a change when she closes her eyes. Before mom knows it, baby’s out. So, why not just let her continue on with the cat nap?
Um, because it’s gross. Like play-time, nap-time isn’t technically a ‘horrible’ thing. Actually, it’s pretty great. Moms relish those special moments when baby drifts off and finally falls asleep. Even if naps are few and far between, they don’t ever need to happen on the changing table (unless it’s a fleeting moment in between the change and lifting the baby off of the public changing station).
Letting a baby rest for more than a minute on the table is cringe-worthy. The moment that baby turns her head, she’ll get a mouthful of grossness.
10 Gettin' Busy
When the mood strikes, a couple’s got to do what they’ve got to do. Or, not. A public restroom isn’t exactly comfortable when it comes down to getting intimate. There aren’t exactly options galore for places to – you know. There’s the toilet. Which besides being equally as disgusting as the changing table, is probably way too small.
Then there’s the floor. But, that could be a bit exhibitionist, right? That leaves the even more exhibitionist counter top and the secluded in-stall baby changing table.
These tables are meant to change babies on, and not make babies on. But, that doesn’t stop some overly zealous pairs from getting dirty on or against the tables. And no, those tables were never meant to hold the weight of two grown adults. This makes it more than likely that the table will break off.
So, if you’re even considering it (which we’re guessing you are not), think twice before you end up crashing to the floor. Then again, maybe the floor is less germ-filled than the changing table is.
9 Work Station
Come on, work is a four letter word any way you cut it. Having to work when you step out of the office is horrible on its own. Now add on a changing table and you have a recipe for disaster.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a cellphone meets toilet accident. If you didn’t raise your hand it’s probably because you’ve only had a near miss. So, you wander into a public restroom to get a few moments of peace and quiet (and answer a few work emails). Would you consider working from the changing station? Um, probably not. But, that doesn’t mean other people wouldn’t do it.
If you’re wondering what’s so bad about propping up a phone on a changing table, think about what’s been on that table and where that phone is going. After the phone makes it off the table (a once poop-covered table, that is) it’s going dangerously close to someone’s mouth. Sneaking in a few extra moments of work just isn’t worth having a true potty mouth.
8 Public Art
The brick wall outside of your apartment, the back of an old abandoned building and the subway tiles. What do all of these have in common? It’s possible that they’re all covered with graffiti. Graffiti itself doesn’t always equal something that’s horrible. Yes, it can be destructive. But, it’s also a form of public art.
Graffiti on a wall – understandable. Graffiti on a public changing table – um, not so understandable. And, in some cases, it’s totally inappropriate. Words or pictures that aren’t exactly kid-friendly might go unnoticed by your baby. Your 3-month-old can’t read and doesn’t understand what those drawings are.
The same can’t be said for your preschooler or older child. Babies aren’t the only ones who see changing tables. As you change your diaper-wearing tot, your other kiddos are looking around. If someone has added a not-so-nice piece of graffiti to the table you may need to shield your child’s eyes (or at least get her out of the restroom as quickly as humanly possible).
7 A Diaper Pail
You’re changing your baby in public. The table is holding her up as you get that dirty diaper off and replace it with a fresh, clean one. Now you have a smelly diaper, and nowhere to put it. Okay, so you do really have somewhere to put it.
That’s what garbage cans are for. Chances are that the smart grocery store, mall, restaurant or wherever else you are staff knows to put a garbage can close to the baby changing station. If not, it’s likely that there’s one within feet of the table.
You see the garbage can and use it. But, not everyone else does. Whether it’s mommy brain, simple neglect or a statement that someone’s trying to make, you may find that the public changing table is suddenly doubling as a trash receptacle.
Whether it’s the diaper itself, a ball of wipes or something else (you can only imagine what that might be), it’s never nice to see gross old garbage on the changing table.
6 Baby Bath
There’s been a diaper explosion. And, it’s a big one. You need to get more than that diaper off of your baby. So, you carefully clean her off with every wipe in the baby bag. You re-dress her (in brand new clothes) and take her home immediately. Why? Well, because she needs a proper bath. Or, at least, a hygienic one.
Sloshing a wad of paper towels under a public restroom sink and sponging your baby down on the changing table isn’t exactly getting her much cleaner. Even though you’ve managed to wipe everything that’s visibly messy off, don’t forget about what the eye can’t find. That’s where taking a table bath goes from kind of clean to potentially illness causing.
Yes, there are times when you have no choice. You have to wipe down the kiddo on the table. But, that’s not a bath. And, we’re pretty sure you know it.
5 Jungle Gym
The big baby change is done, and the little (fresh smelling) angel is back in her stroller. So, who’s using that changing table as a jungle gym? Big sis is nearby and she’s swinging off of it.
Sure, play-time for baby on a public restroom changing table is gross. But, add in another (older) child and it’s even more of a disaster. Not only is the preschooler grabbing onto and hanging off from the table, but she’s also slowly breaking it.
No one is saying a 4-year-old happily playing is a bad thing. Um, unless it’s happening on a bacteria-covered changing table. The not-so-cute combo of potential illness and physical danger (what’s going to happen to that preschooler when the table snaps and falls on her?) makes this use way more than just gross. Okay, so it has a major yuck factor. It’s also scary when you think about what could happen.
4 Coffee Caddy
You’re juggling two cups of coffee, one grande cappuccino and an iced tea. The barista sweetly put them into one of those cardboard caddies, but you need to set it down somewhere – in a public restroom! For now, you’re going to ignore the floor. It’s coated in swaths of toilet paper, tampon wrappers and little puddles of something that you don’t want touching your drink.
Plenty people would walk out, or at the very least use the sink counter to hold their coffee. Other people may not notice the counter or see the changing station as a makeshift table (and not the kind that you clean up baby on).
What’s the result? Someone decides that the changing table is perfect coffee caddy. That coffee may be in a cup, but it’s not a 100 percent germ barrier. And, where is that cup going? It’s going in the exact same place that held a baby’s bottom (rather, a poopy baby’s bottom) hours, minutes or maybe even seconds ago.If you assume that coffee shop’s clean-looking changing station is okay, think again. Denver’s News 7 investigated where the highest numbers of bacteria could be found on changing tables. The coffee shop that they swabbed (along with a hospital and big box store) were the most bacteria-covered.
3 Coat Check
It’s freezing outside, but the mall is baking you like an oven. You wore a t-shirt, covered by a long-sleeved shirt, with a sweater on top and then added on a bulky puffy coat. Ugh! Now you’re sweating through all of your layers. So, you de-layer yourself and drag your winter gear around with you.
You make a pit stop in the bathroom and there’s no little hook in your stall. While the coat-hanging hook is missing, you do spy a changing table. What to do now?
It may not seem like a big deal to pile your sweater, jacket and everything else onto the table. It’s just a flat surface, right? Sure. Maybe it was even cleaned (or wiped off) recently. It doesn’t have anything offensive looking on it, so it seems safe. Or, not. Your coat is now getting coated with baby’s bacteria – even though you can’t see it.You’re going to pick that coat up, put it on and carry the germs with your wherever you go.
2 A Trash Can
Mom’s done changing baby. She leaves the diaper where now? On the changing table? Okay, so this happens. But, mamas aren’t the only ones to trash the table. Along with being used as a makeshift diaper pail (or wipe disposal space), non-parents may also use these stations for their garbage.
Someone washes their hands, dries them and tosses that paper towel onto the table. Maybe they then blew their nose. Where do they put that used tissue? On the table too. That’s not to mention maxi pad wrappers (and the used pads too).
Whether there’s absolutely no trash can in site, it’s way out of reach or it’s overflowing already, adding garbage (that is, non-diaper trash) to the table doesn’t help to make it any cleaner.
Yeah, yeah, we know – that table was probably never clean to begin with. At least, not since it was originally installed. But, that doesn’t mean it’s a great place to stash all of the trash.
1 Changing The Baby
Yes, this is exactly what the table was meant for. It’s the table’s whole purpose. But, that doesn’t mean it’s in any way clean. The Denver News 7 investigative team who found out that coffee shops, hospitals and big box stores have the highest numbers of bacteria on them, also found that it isn’t just one germ that’s causing a problem.
They found coliforms (in other words, fecal matter) as well as salmonella and shigella. And, these aren’t bugs that a quick wipe down with a paper towel can get rid of.
So, you need to change your baby. There’s no doubt about that. Are you willing to risk it? Your baby’s face is getting dangerously close to a surface that’s been contaminated with who knows what. You brought along a receiving blanket, and tuck it neatly under baby. But, that’s not an effective barrier. The change is still exposing her to everything that the table has to offer. And none of it’s good.