A Tunbridge Wells dad shot to internet fame last week after posting a video pointing out town locations where he claims fathers couldn’t change a baby’s nappy.
However, a survey by the Times found 14 shops, coffee bars and restaurants in close proximity with special baby rooms easily accessible to dads.
Al Ferguson, 27, visited five venues with his 18-month-old son Ted, and a GX7 camera balanced on his arm, but was ‘frustrated’ that in four of them the nappy-changing facilities were located inside the ladies toilets – ruling out use by dads.
Al, a primary school teacher, said: “It’s 2016, there are more stay-at-home dads than ever before, yet we still can’t change our baby’s nappy when we are out. It’s about time dads were seen as equals when it comes to parenting.”
His conversations with staff at Pizza Express, Caffe Nero in Royal Victoria Place, Strada, BHS and The Hare at Langton Green show most tried to be helpful.
In BHS there was a separate room, but Al objected to the door sign showing a woman with a baby.
He said: “The issue there is the assumption that it will be a mum coming in. That’s what so many dads are up against. From a personal point of view, it’s frustrating.”
The video, posted on his Dad Network website, was shared 65,000 times on social media and earned him a spot on TV’s Good Morning Britain.
On Saturday, the Times carried out its own survey – and found numerous places with unisex nappy changing facilities.
Our reporter visited ASK, Basil café, Bill’s, Boots, Costa Coffee, Fenwick, Hoopers, Marks & Spencer, Pret a Manger, Prezzo, Royal Victoria Place, Starbucks, Tunbridge Wells Bar & Grill and Zizzi.
In most places, nappy changing facilities were inside the unisex disabled toilet on the ground floor. In Starbucks and Prezzo the sign on the door showed an apparent man – in trousers – rather than the usual skirted woman.
In Marks & Spencer the door had pictures of a man, a woman and a baby, while Boots has a dedicated baby changing room even though there are no loos.
Bill’s restaurant does not have a sign on its ground-floor baby changing/disabled loo door, but staff say if people want to change their baby ‘they usually ask’.
In Prezzo the door sign says ‘Babyminder’ with an image of a baby in a cupped pair of hands, and in most venues the door had a sign with an image of a baby.
For pure baby changing luxury, Royal Victoria Place and Fenwick won the day, with the addition of a separate breastfeeding room.
Two other fathers out on their own with toddlers said they didn’t think there was much to make a fuss about.
Mike Reed, who was in the Basil café with Eddie (2), said: “Nappy changing hasn’t been a problem, really. I’ve always found it easy enough. And you can always pop home. No worries.”
Jose Vonroth, out with daughter, Jessica (2), said: “I tend to take her out at weekend. There are a couple of places I already know, like the shopping mall, where I can change her.”
Mr Ferguson has launched an online map on his website showing both dad-friendly and unfriendly baby changing rooms, which the site’s 2,000 members can add to.
To view his video, go to: www.thedadnetwork.co.uk