How to Change a Diaper Anywhere

It’s fairly straighforward to change a squirming baby on a changing table, but good luck on a rocking boat. Learn how to change a diaper when traveling, from tiny plane bathrooms to out hiking. It can be done.

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On the Beach

You’re at the beach and the public bathrooms are not as close as you’d like them to be, so you opt to change your baby’s diaper right there on your beach towel. You’re dealing with sand, ocean water and an extra wet swim diaper. This is where baby powder is an absolute must or the sand will never come off your baby, says Beth Henry of Cloud Surfing Kids. Another option is called Sand Gone, a fine powder that removes sand that gets stuck to your body when you’re at the beach.

While Hiking

You’re out on a hike, carrying your baby in a baby carrier and your baby is not happy. He needs a diaper change. First, make sure your baby is wearing a clean, dry diaper before you begin a hike and keep changing supplies in your backpack (but still try to pack light). As Rebecca Walsh of JustTrails says, start “every hike with full bellies and empty diapers.” Find a flat, grassy area to lay down a changing pad, then pack out the dirty diaper and wipes in a sealable plastic bag to take home with you. Never leave anything behind when enjoying the outdoors.

While Standing Up

Changing a diaper while standing up is never optimal, but it can be done, especially if you’re only dealing with a wet diaper. This is best accomplished when one parent can hold the baby up while the other switches out the wet diaper for a dry diaper, according to Jessica Bowers of Suitcases & Sippy Cups. However, if you’re on your own, this is where a pull-up style diaper could work best for you, especially if your child can stand on his own and even help you pull up the diaper.

On a Plane

Some airplanes, particularly larger, two-aisle planes, have changing tables inside the restrooms. Hoorah. JetBlue even has changing tables inside every single lavatory, according to Leslie Harvey of Trips with Tykes. This is ideal, but if you simply cannot wait until you land, ask the flight attendant to direct you to the best spot on the plane for a quick change, which may be the floor of the galley or the top of the toilet seat. Bring a sealable plastic bag for the dirty diaper, then work quickly to get your baby cleaned up.

On a Boat

If you head out for a day on the water, whether aboard a catamaran or a sail boat, you’ll eventually find yourself needing to change a wet diaper. Head below deck for privacy and to keep your baby from staring into the sun while on her back as you change her. Says Aimee Lynch of The Everyday Journey, “We had to move all the snorkels and fishing gear out of the way, check for hooks before we laid her down, but it worked.” One parent changed the diaper while one kept her steady as the boat swayed back and forth. 

In a Car

When given the choice between a gas station and the back of a car, many parents will opt to change a diaper when traveling from their own car, even if it means putting baby in the trunk (obviously, do not close the trunk). Look for a flat area, which is often the trunk or the back of an SUV, then lay down a changing pad. Matt Villano of Wandering Pod considers changing diapers in the car to be one of the most important skills for a family road trip.

Public Restroom (Without a Table)

While many public restrooms have changing tables, more than a few do not, making a quick diaper change a challenge. If there is no changing table, head for the largest stall in the restroom. If no stalls are available, use one of the counters. Lay down a changing pad (preferably a disposable one) and key supplies, including wipes, a plastic bag for disposing the diaper, even a toy to entertain your baby. Don’t hesitate to complain to management if the restroom is not clean or there is no space to change your baby.

On a Train

Many Amtrak trains have changing tables in the bathrooms, particularly on long-haul routes (some trains on shorter routes may not). Many sleeper cars also have changing tables. However, to be safe, bring a waterproof changing pad to change a diaper on a seat or on the floor of the train. Fortunately, both the seats and aisles are more spacious than on an airplane. Alternatively, if the train has an extended stop at a station, make a beeline for the public restroom in the station. Just know when the train will leave so that you and your baby don’t get left behind.

On a Bus

Given the jerking motions of a bus (start, stop, start, stop), it’s far from ideal to change a diaper on a bus, but if you must, you must. Try to get a pair of seats to yourselves, then lie your baby down on the seat next to you for a quick change. If the bus makes frequent stops, like a city bus, use this to your advantage and hop off to find a place with a public restroom to change your baby in private. Then wait for the next bus to come along with your clean, dry baby.

In a Restaurant

Many small restaurants do not have changing tables in their restrooms, so you’re on your own when you need to change your baby’s diaper. Ask the hostess for a suggestion, which may be a bench near the hostess stand or even a private room. Some restaurants only have changing tables in the women’s restrooms, so check both in search of an appropriate place to change your baby. Do not change a diaper on a restaurant table or in a booth in the dining area, even if upset that there are no other changing facilities. If nothing else, it’s a health code violation.

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