Learn strategies for navigating public transportation, crowded streets and small living spaces from Manhattan mom Monica Storch.

Tiny Bottoms, Big City: Changing Your Baby’s Diaper (Almost) Anywhere


Changing baby’s diaper is no easy feat in any locale, but changing a diaper in the middle of Manhattan requires an unparalleled degree of dexterity, patience and determination. Unlike in the suburbs, where you can change baby in the backseat of a car or at pretty much any chain restaurant or big box store (or at least that’s my understanding/fantasy), urban diaper changes can, and do, occur in places you might never have imagined.

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When my now 4-year-old daughter Sadie was in diapers, she tended to pick the most inopportune times for a change. She’ll likely require years of therapy for it later, but my precious little girl found herself bottoms down on many a bathroom floor (just like real estate, changing tables are a scarce resource in New York City), dressing room, public park bench and even a ledge behind a row of seats at Madison Square Garden during a New York Rangers game! Along the way, my husband and I developed a diaper change skill set that I’m quite certain rivals that of any Navy Seal Team in its cunning and bravery.

Indispensable to our urban quick change efforts were several key pieces of equipment. First up was the bassinet of our Bugaboo Cameleon, which served as a handy makeshift changing table when Sadie was a teeny tiny newborn. We also relied heavily on our Skip Hop Pronto changer, which was especially perfect for those times when we didn’t feel like lugging an entire diaper bag’s worth of stuff to the park or a restaurant.

But perhaps the most important tool in our diaper change arsenal was the patemm pad, an ingenious, circular changing pad made of PVC-free, certified laminated cotton that can be wiped down in a jiffy when you’re on the go. The patemm is perfect for changing squirmy babies, who have plenty of room to move around on the 28” pad, and it’s also super easy to store in a diaper bag, as the patemm folds up into a compact, self-contained carrier.

Besides having the right gear, our city diaper changes required more than a bit of good old fashioned moxie. At first, I was timid about asking a store if I could change Sadie in a dressing room, and recall casting many a furtive glance to see if I was freaking out other people when I changed Sadie in the middle of Central Park. But just like I had to get over my fear of subway drip and astronomical rents when I moved to Manhattan from Los Angeles a decade ago, I soon tossed aside all diaper change inhibitions and was ready, willing and able to plop Sadie and her dirty diaper down pretty much anywhere in the city. Along the way, I not only developed nerves of steel, but also found plenty of kind-hearted merchants and a few hidden changing tables I might not otherwise have discovered. For instance, it turned out that our favorite wine store had a sparkling clean bathroom complete with a changing table! Pinot and Pampers? Yes, please!

With baby #2 due in a little over a month, I’m not necessarily looking forward to resuming diaper duty, but having mastered the urban diaper change trenches, I feel much more prepared to pound the pavement with my diaper-covered bundle of joy!

About Monica

Monica Storch publishes NYCeast.macaronikid.com, a weekly e-newsletter and website highlighting the best events going on for kids and families in New York City. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and their 4-year-old daughter and infant son.

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