Before using the diaper changing station at a store, restaurant or other public location, make sure that it meets general safety standards. Like most objects that could pose health and safety risks to the general population, changing stations are regulated by state and local authorities, so laws and guidelines may differ by location. However, there are some standard parameters that you should consider to help keep your baby safe, clean and healthy.
A public diaper changing station should be made out of high-density molded plastic such as polyethylene. Not only does this help to ensure that the unit is durable and comfortable, unlike cold, hard steel would be, but it also helps to prevent dampness and odor retention while being easy to clean up, as well.
It is a good idea to check out a diaper changing station before you place the baby on it. Make sure there are no missing nuts, bolts or brackets, and that all of the hardware is firmly secured to both the changing station and the wall. Check the hardware that enables the folding mechanism as well, confirming that the platform on which you will place your baby is securely fastened to the piece that is affixed to the wall. Pressing down firmly onto the changing surface allows you to verify that it will safely withstand the weight of your little one.
Even if the diaper changing station is formed from polyethylene as previously stated, it is wise to place a pad, blanket or other barrier between your child and the changing surface. The store or restaurant may clean the surface regularly, but another parent whose baby had a major “blowout” may have just used the station minutes before you came in. In addition, as unseemly as it sounds, there have been news reports of cocaine and other drug residue on many public diaper changing surfaces. Protect your precious infant by bringing along a washable mat or disposable pads and use them every single time.