President Obama makes life easier for dads faced with a dirty nappy

Dads in the US will have better access to baby change tables.
Dads in the US will have better access to baby change tables. Photo: Kim DeClaire

Thanks to President Obama, life is about to get a whole lot easier for US dads when it comes to dealing with those unexpected poonamis. 

On Friday, Obama signed the BABIES act – also known as the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act. Initially proposed back in April by Congressman David N. Cicilline, the act requires all public federal buildings to include baby change tables in both women and men's bathrooms. 

According to Cicilline, almost 80 per cent of parents with children under six have used a baby changing station while 34 per cent report using them once a month. 

While the lack of changing facilities has been a problem for many years – particularly with more men taking on the role of primary caregiver – last year, a Facebook post by new dad Ashton Kutcher, brought the issue to the fore.

After the birth of his daughter, Wyatt Isabelle, Kutcher shared his own frustration around the lack of changing stations in public men's rooms. The Facebook post, which was shared over 14,000 times, resonated with so many dads that Kutcher began a change.org campaign.

Calling on Target and Costco specifically to #BeTheChange and #LeanInTogether, Kutcher wrote,

"It's 2015, families are diverse, and it is an injustice to assume it's only a woman's job to handle changing diapers.This assumption is gender stereotyping and companies should be supporting all parents that shop at their stores equally – no matter their gender.

"Changing tables in men's rooms will be a tiny step in the long process of rectifying the legacy of gender discrimination, but it's a step we need to take. Dads, like myself, want to participate equally in the child care process and our society should support that. "

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Closer to home, in Australia, trying to find a change table when out and about with little ones is a challenge many new parents are familiar with – particularly dads. And while there are certainly more parents' rooms available now than there used to be - there's still room for improvement.

Speaking to the Daily Mail last year, Jason Cranage, 39, founder of Dads of Newport and Surrounds, said that the lack of suitable changing facilities had resulted in nappy changes occurring in some less than ideal places.

"Anywhere from the backs of cars to under trees, anywhere you can create a soft environment,' he said. "Re-configuring the inside of your car, or even laying down the front seat. I've had to take my jumper off and use it as a pillow."

He also said that men don't feel comfortable going into women's bathrooms in order to change a nappy.

It was a sentiment echoed by George Kanjere, a member of another dads' group in Victoria: Northern Dads' Group. Kanjere told the Daily Mail,  "I don't really think it's that expensive to install one of those change tables that screw into the wall."