Baby changing facilities hard to find

The lack of publicised diaper-changing facilities in central George Town, and the relative absence of such amenities along the Seven Mile corridor, is making life with a baby difficult for many.

A changing table

A changing table in the womens restroom on the second floor of the Bayshore Mall. Patrons may access it by using the stairs or the elevator in front of Kirk Freeport.
Photo: Hannah Reid

Anyone with an infant will tell you that they let out more than giggles, shrieks and drool and that extra material must be taken care of; and fast. However, diaper-changing stations are often hard to find downtown.

Tara Lombardo, who was visiting from New York with her young son Raymond on the Carnival Triumph, said that it would be helpful if the locations were publicised.

‘It would be a good thing for them to tell us on the cruise ship… There are many families with young children on board,’ she said.

Establishments along the harbour that are equipped with changing-facilities, include: The Hard Rock Café, the Bayshore Mall and the new Royal Watler Cruise Terminal.

Hard Rock’s General Manger Annick Pasquali, said, ‘It’s part of the specifications…because it is a family restaurant.’

She also recognised that these days fathers also need access to changing facilities.

‘I have another [changing station] we are going to put up in the men’s [restroom]. I have it in stock and it’s going to be put up soon…probably before the end of summer.’

One downtown establishment that was not equipped with changing tables, though it hosts children’s parties, is Margaritaville.

According to Manager Arthur Screaton, the restaurant was not originally intended as a family restaurant and he had never been asked to provide such facilities.

‘Even though the restaurant becomes a family restaurant…it is not designed as such…It’s just not standard.’

Refurbishment plans for Owen Roberts International Airport will also include diaper-changing stations in both male and female restrooms, according to CEO David Frederick.

SMB corridor

Along the Seven Mile Beach corridor, however, it is much harder to find such facilities.

Restaurants, strip malls and supermarkets along West Bay Road are mostly without such amenities, even those considered to be family restaurants.

At one family-oriented eatery off West Bay Road a George Town mother asked where they suggested she change her infant and was unsatisfied with their response.

The resident, who declined to be named, said ‘I was told to take my baby to my car to change her or change her on the bathroom floor.’

Establishments that were questioned suggested that their extended restroom counter-tops could be used as alternatives to modern changing-tables.

Such features, while offering some assistance, may compromise the safety of children as it is difficult to keep a baby still and clean them properly at the same time.

Modern diaper-changing facilities aim to prevent accidental injuries and assist parents by offering straps that gently secure babies to the table to prevent harmful falls.

The lack of comprehensive signage in George Town, or of actual facilities along most of the Seven Mile Beach corridor, means that many parents end up changing soiled diapers in their cars or on their laps in cramped restroom stalls.

Timothy Dailey, a father of four-month-old twins, noted that such facilities are desirable, but was pragmatic.

‘Changing tables are definitely needed, but as parents you learn to improvise in many ways in life…you take it in your stride,’ he said.

Parents may have to keep improvising for a while yet, according to Emerson Piercy of Building Control.

‘Under the planning legislation it’s not required,’ he said.

As Cayman continues to develop, however, more and more establishments are providing such facilities to keep their clients happy.

The increasing number of changing facilities in recent years is perhaps a fair indication that more will follow in the capital and elsewhere on the island.

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