Thursday, October 4, 2012

Changing the Changing Room

Have you changed your baby in one of those foldable changing tables located inside malls’ restrooms? It really is a pitiful excuse for a “changing station” as they call it. I really, really dislike changing my baby in those things because they look, and probably is, dirty, and pretty small for my 11-month old baby. I mean, one sudden sideways roll and he can fall off. Sure, those tables have a belt attached but with the number of usage that has gone through, I’m afraid to let it touch my baby’s skin. Plus, these tables are usually attached to the far wall, away from the sinks and of course with no additional tables for baby’s changing items. I mean, really, hassle siya more than anything.

So, can you imagine my delight at coming across Shangri-La Plaza’s Breastfeeding and Changing Room? Not only is it spacious and clean, it offers a luxuriously padded changing “mattress” wide enough for my baby to lay down comfortably and rest his back from all the carrying while malling. The two changing mattresses are atop a table where I can put baby’s bag and changing items. There’s a trash bin in the middle for easy diaper disposal, and sinks are located right across it for easy washing. The changing area is within a big room that also houses several couches for breastfeeding pairs, along with a separate sink, and a refrigerator for breastmilk storage. Wow, right? They thought of everything! And it’s also near the ladies’ room so a tired mom can really do all that she needs to do in one place. Best of all, this facility is free of charge.

Instead of a hard plastic foldable changing table, Shang's changing room offers wide,  padded "mattresses"  for baby.

I also got to experience Alabang Town Center’s changing room which offered the same padded changing mattress but was inside the ladies’ room, albeit that was clean and comfortable. What I didn’t like about it was that they charged P10 for each entry.

Another changing facility I appreciated was Mothercare’s at Bonifacio High Street—clean, comfortable and free. Their changing room also doubles as a breastfeeding room.

One mall I wasn’t particularly happy about was SM Megamall. Sure, they had a breastfeeding station, but this was located inside their mall clinic. I was iffy to bring in my baby at first because I didn’t want him to get in contact with anybody sick at the clinic but at that time, there was no patient so in we went. The room contained two sofa chairs. That’s pretty much it. The signage posted inside the room told me that changing baby wasn’t allowed inside for hygienic reasons, and that I could change my baby in their public restrooms. And again, they had those foldable changing tables that really looked disgusting. So much for hygiene!

I wish malls could really pay attention to changing rooms and breastfeeding facilities. I mean, this is where babies will be changed and fed, so imagine how critical the comfort and hygiene of the facilities would be. In doing so, you are also doing a service to mothers who, I would think, comprises a significant percentage of your customers—being that we enter your malls beyond the weekends and after-office hours. If a mall could spend on their restrooms and customer lounges, there’s no reason why a separate room for babies’ changing and feeding couldn't be put into place. Especially if one mall already did it. And oh, by the way, a changing station is a room, not a foldable table inside a crowded restroom.

So hats off to Shangri-La Plaza Mall for prioritizing this much-needed facility. This has become one of the main reasons why I choose to go to this mall more than any other. But I do hope to see a change in malls’ (and other public establishments’) changing rooms too.

Do you know of other malls with a nice baby-changing facility?

Shang's Breastfeeding Room has a big couch (3 more single chairs sit across), a separate sink, a ref and a microwave.

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