Loo Loo Mummy to the rescue [guest post]
Babies have been born since the dawn of time, yet we still seem unable to facilitate clean, accessible baby change facilities for both mums, dads and carers. How is this even possible when we are in the 21st century? It’s crazy to think scientists are designing robots and planning trips to Mars yet we can’t get something as basic as baby change facilities right…enter Loo Loo Mummy.
I was shocked to enter the world of motherhood and realize that baby change facilities are often so dirty and disgusting. I had prepared for having a baby with hypnobirthing, attending breastfeeding classes, sterilizing things to within an inch of their life, attending NCT courses, spending time researching the latest gadgets and making my little nest, but nothing prepared me for the reality of trying to find a clean baby change facility. Why is it so hard?
When you are childless you don’t even consider if a pub, bar, café or restaurant has a baby change facility, let alone what state it is in; however, when that little bundle of joy enters your life it becomes a whole new factor in your everyday outings especially if like me you are dealing with poonami after poonami.
Some of my experiences so far have led to me changing my baby in the car, the pram and even on the cold, dirty floor of places. I’ve spoken to so many parents who totally avoid changing their child when out. They either cut their days short, leave their child in their dirty nappy or don’t go anywhere for long enough to change them. Any new parent knows the importance of fresh air and a change of scenery, in order to support not only your child’s development but to help your own sanity and mental health.
More than 1 in 10 women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within the first year after having a baby. Did you know that mums can suffer with Perinatal Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)? This is when ‘Mums may experience an intense fear that something is contaminated by germs or dirt’. Women with Perinatal OCD often worry that their baby will be harmed due to contamination. How awful, I can really relate to this as I used to really freak out about cross contamination and would wash my hands so much they would weep.
You can see how dirty baby change facilities could easily tip an anxious mum over the edge. By having cleaner baby change facilities, it would certainly support new mums and surely babies are entitled to this basic human right.
So, men have babies, too right? Well it appears that as a society we seem to stereotype that it must only be women that change nappies as we are seriously lacking in change units in male toilets. Again, how is that even possible in 2018? It’s shocking. It’s not gone unnoticed, Ashton Kutcher drew attention to this fact back in 2015 with his #BeTheChange offering a shout out on Facebook to the first men’s room offering a change table. In England ‘The Dad Network’ gives establishments that have, at the very least, put changing facilities in the disabled/unisex toilet a thumbs up and a thumbs down to those that haven’t moved with the times and still have change units in the ladies toilets. You can access a map and look for dad friendly services near you. What a fab idea!!! #dadsforchange
Having made contact with Raymond Martin the chair of ‘The British Toilet Association’ in my research, I learnt that the last statistics about change facilities were taken by the Audit Commission in the year 2000. This means that the government continue to bear no responsibility for the provision of public toilets and therefore feel no compulsion to record any figures. Apparently, most councils are struggling to maintain the services they currently do provide and only a small number are financially in a position to upgrade or increase their provision of toilets – let alone baby change facilities. But as parents we aren’t asking for much – cleanliness and air fresheners are two of key things parent comment that they want from change facilities.
The British Toilet Association sits on the British Standards Institute (BSI) and it is now within all the guidelines that ‘the provision of safe and well-maintained baby-changing platforms must be a statutory requirement when building or refurbishing toilet facilities’. The British Toilet association also states that ‘there should be no less than one unisex baby changing facility provided per 10,000 people using the area’. Yet, in America, Obama signed a law called ‘The Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation (BABIES) Act’ to ensure all bathrooms in government buildings should have ‘physically safe, sanitary and appropriate’ places to change a nappy.
In the UK there remains a number of problems regarding the security & maintenance of public facilities. Recently, I was sent some shocking photos of a disabled/baby change toilet in Colchester, Essex where clearly vandalism and anti-social behaviour were the main culprits for the state of the facilities. Cigarettes and cigars had been repeatedly stubbed out on the unit and poo smeared all over it. Not only this but it seems that change units are being set on fire, illegal activity takes place, they are sat or jumped on by persons over the 25Kg weight restriction – (causing hinges to break – and dangerously – baby retention straps removed) and most alarmingly drug taking (WTF!!!!!!!). Since learning this I always carry Milton wipes with me.
As change units are so expensive, many are re-sited inside Disabled/Accessible toilets that need to be accessed using a RADAR key. I do understand this; however, I had a friend on a journey into London stop at Stratford station to find a baby change as her boy had pooed, but no staff had a RADAR key and there were no other facilities available. What are parents supposed to do then?
Since starting my campaign and my Loo Loo Mummy account I have been amazed by the friendliness and kindness of my followers. I have received lots of pictures of change facilities (thank god as there are only so many I can visit) and messages thanking me for starting this campaign. A lady recently said I had inspired her to write a letter to her local Morrison’s to complain about the state of their facilities.
Some of the best change facilities I have seen have been from Ikea, Asda (winners of the baby change category for the Loo of the Year awards) and Matalan. Places like Bluewater, Harrods and Westfields have fantastic parent rooms available for their shoppers which is good to know.
Interestingly Mothercare a shop designed for people with children seem to have some disgraceful baby change facilities. This is shocking from a company that run solely on profits from people that have babies! Should they not be leading the way in change facilities? In a poll 91% of my followers said they wouldn’t go back to a Mothercare that I posted pictures of because of their change facilities.
My Loo Loo Mummy highlights so far have been Grand Mother Pukka sharing an Insta story, receiving a response letter from Will Quince the local MP of Colchester and Aldi moving their baby prams under the shelter – after many requests! But there is more work to do and it’s going to take time.
I feel so lucky to be part of this new mummy/parent movement where it’s okay not to be okay and parents are all about supporting each other and making a difference for the future of their little ones. I think previously people wanted to change things but thought it was impossible, whereas today parents know if they don’t fight, who else will? We are all in this together.
I am only one person, but I believe in time we can make a difference. But I need you! Together let’s create a movement to help improve baby change facilities for all parents and most of all, our gorgeous little ones. Join me in celebrating the baby change facilities that are clean and highlight those where improvements can be made. Follow my Instagram account #looloomummy and spread the word. Feel free to send me your photos or share your own photos using the following #looloomummytotherescue #babybogstandards #change4ourbabies.
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