Changes Ahead: NYC Law Requires Diaper Changing Stations in Public Restrooms

Bill de Blasio Signs Law Mandating Diaper Changing Stations Be Available to Dads and All

It looks like New York City dads can no longer get out of diaper duty! Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a law Tuesday, January 9, requiring that new public buildings make diaper changing stations available to all New York City parents regardless of gender identification. That's right, baby changing stations will be coming to a men's room (or gender-neutral restroom) near you—and soon. As early as July, all new or recently-renovated public buildings in the five boroughs will need to provide this amenity to all parents or face fines of up to $1,600.

The law, which goes into effect in 180 days, also applies to "gathering spaces or spaces where merchandise is sold," which includes theaters, museums, shopping centers, and bowling alleys.  

Though his diaper days are squarely in the rearview, de Blasio, a dad of two, said he remembers how difficult it can be for fathers to freshen up their tots without the right tools in place. 

"As a dad, I know firsthand how frustrating it can be to handle diaper emergencies in public without a changing station," the mayor said in a statement. "This new law will ensure that all parents will have access to these stations in public buildings regardless of their gender, and help make New York City (a) fairer place to live."

During de Blasio's time in office, the mayor has advocated for a a number of pro-family initiatives, including signing legislation requiring a host of city agencies to offer lactation rooms to nursing mothers across the five boroughs. He also established free pre-k for NYC kids and is working toward 3-K.

By signing Intro. 1241-A, the bill sponsored by Council Member Rafael Espinal, the mayor also continues a mission to improve gender equality in the city. 

"Whoever the parents of a child are, everyone's got to chip in. Everyone's go to do their share," he said before signing the bill, which was met cheers from parents, including his partner in life and diaper-changing, wife, First Lady Chirlane McCray. 

"Today I am delighted to celebrate another step forward for New York families," McCray said. "And this one is personal for me. Because I remember like Bill, all too well how difficult it could be to find a clean and safe space to change the diapers. And Bill and I had plenty of stories about our babies. I have especially vivid images in my mind about Bill changing a diaper on the hood of our very weathered blue Ford tour station wagon in the winter."

So it sounds like a Mother's Day has come a bit early for NYC moms looking to hand off their tots to their male partners while they're out as a family. For dads who take their little ones on adventures solo, life might have just gotten a little easier and cleaner. 

Top Photo: George Rudy for Bigstock