“I had a bad feeling about the facilities as we approached; who wouldn’t when hearing the sounds of other customers screams from 100 yards away? Was this the kind of place I wanted to get naked in? Err, no thanks. My fears were sadly confirmed when I was told the only bathroom option available was on the (filthy) floor, wedged between a sanitary bin and a terrifyingly loud monster (allegedly called a hand-dryer). My head hurt from the hard floor, and I could find comfort in neither the view nor the smell of my surroundings. All I wanted was to escape – which I attempted by rolling around whilst screaming hysterically – I couldn’t believe I was being subjected to such a horrible experience at a place we were spending money to eat in.”
Rated *- Completely unacceptable and unhygienic – I have no intention of returning to this establishment.
“I was starving hungry when we arrived; hot and harassed after two hours of shopping and more than ready for my lunch. However, there was nowhere to sit and the area was unclean; strewn with tissue and just a smelly toilet with a dirty pull-down changer over it (mmm, appetising). In the end, I had my lunch stood up, which was uncomfortable for both of us and I believe squarely to blame for the sicky burp which followed. Next time we go shopping, we will choose to do so at a place we feel catered for and welcome at – a chair and a clean room really shouldn’t be too much to ask.”
Rated: * – Not a great lunch by anyone’s standards
Okay so babies can’t actually write reviews, but I think we all know what they’d say about some of the places they are stripped, changed and fed in if they could. I’m confident for example, my baby son didn’t enjoy being naked (following an explodapoo) on the grubby floor of a pub toilet – his screams were a fairly big clue. And as a hot, harassed mum in a cramped space, trying not to inhale toilet contents as I manoeuvred awkwardly around a tiny cubicle with a very upset baby, I didn’t exactly relish it either.
As a new parent, I dreaded situations where there was nowhere clean to change a nappy or feed, it really could make or break my day, even though nobody wants to be restricted to the one or two places that we know meet minimum requirements for these facilities. I do not have particularly high standards – ask anyone – but I think being able to access somewhere convenient to change my baby is not asking a lot. And if that place has even a small chair – somewhere to feed or catch my breath and have a brief time-out from people staring at my screaming infant then all the better:
‘Yes I do know he’s crying, yep, he probably is hungry – and wet – nope, pausing to discuss this with a stranger isn’t really helping and I’m actually a bit sweaty now with stress. Thanks for the ‘chat’ though!’
This is why, when I have found supermarkets, shopping centres and eating establishments with decent facilities, I have stuck to them. I have mentioned them to friends, we have shared recommendations, we have warned of places with poor baby-changing and we have based decisions on where to go on these chats. It’s that simple – if we are giving our custom, we want to frequent somewhere that caters both for us and our children – by being able to change them hygienically and hassle-free.
Now my son is 2 but I still remain in my routine of baby-friendly establishments, and probably will even after he’s potty trained, as if they understand the importance of offering essential facilities for all and are family friendly, then I will remain loyal. I even travel slightly further afield to a different shopping centre because the changing facilities are so clean, and include a small play area as well as several feeding chairs. When my second baby arrives next year I know this will be invaluable – for my son to be able to amuse himself playing while I feed and change the baby without worrying about urgently finding a café, ordering a drink, weaving a pram between tables with a screaming infant and bored toddler, and trying to find somewhere to sit. That kind of thing is enough to make me want to just stay at home for a year – it’s sort of tempting enough anyway to be honest…
I’m therefore proud to support the Sudocrem Baby Changing Room Awards 2015, which recognise places that go the extra mile to offer changing facilities to parents and their young children. What’s more, all nominations come from you – the parents who truly understand what makes these facilities work.
How to Enter:
If you would like to nominate a changing room that has made your day a bit easier, you can enter via the Sudocrem website or by emailing email@example.com – just state which changing room and why you are nominating them – you also have the option to add a photo of the facilities. The closing date is 31st December 2015 and the winners will be announced in early January 2016. Plus, everyone who makes a nomination will be entered into a prize draw to win one of several prizes, including a short break at Knoll House, Britain’s original family friendly hotel… so what are you waiting for! (Terms and conditions on website.)
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