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California may make it easier for dads to change diapers

Amy Hatch began her career as a print journalist, and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Urbana, Ill. with her husband and two children.

Changing stations in all public restrooms?

California could require all public bathrooms to have diaper-changing stations that are accessible to both men and women.

California dreamin' just took on a whole new meaning, thanks to a push in that state to make sure all public restrooms feature a baby-changing table.

The poop on the "diaper mandate"

According to ThinkProgress, legislation recently made it through a state Senate committee that would ensure men have the same access to changing tables that women do. Senate Bill 1358 would require public restrooms for both genders in places like movie theaters, eateries and libraries to have changing stations.

Senate Bill 1350 states that changing tables should be “equally available or provided regardless of the gender for which the restroom facilities are designed” in the future, but would not require that existing restrooms be retrofitted to meet the standard.

More dads getting their hands dirty

And hallelujah, it's about time. I can count on one hand the number of times my husband changed a diaper in a public place, and it wasn't because he was unwilling. The majority of restrooms we encountered when our kids were small had changing tables only in the women's facilities. There were plenty of times we pulled double diaper duty in the back of our van while on road trips when we had both a toddler and an infant, because it was just too hard for me to wrangle both kids alone.

Families are changing

Not to mention that society is changing. Fathers are taking on more and more parenting tasks, and, according to U. S. Census Bureau data from 2011, 32 percent of married fathers are "a regular source of care for their children under age 15, up from 26 percent from 2002."

That means at least 7 million men are changing diapers in public places on a pretty regular basis. I'm guessing not all of them live in California, either.

That number also doesn't account for same-sex households with children. According to a study from the Williams Institute, a national think tank, 20 percent of LGBT men are raising a child under the age of 18.

Parent-friendly businesses will thrive

While some may see this as an unnecessary burden on businesses (or as Fox News refers to it, a silly diaper mandate), I argue that it makes businesses far more attractive to families, especially those who have more than one kid. Anyone who has had to repeat "don't touch that" 100 times to their not-yet-potty-trained 2-year-old while also changing an infant's dirty diaper would be more than happy to hand off one of those kids to the other parent.

Families are evolving, and businesses that keep up with the times will be — pardon the pun — flush with customers.

More stories about diapering

Dad's guide to diapering
Fall in love with cloth diapering
How to change a baby's diaper

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