China is, in general, not a country that has thought much about accessibility. It’s coming slowly, but this impacts young families as well. Doorways without ramps and subways without elevators make parents think twice about travelling the city with a stroller. But, there is one place that Beijing has thought about babies: fancy public bathrooms.
China’s major public spaces like airports and train stations, hospitals and large malls, often have nursing rooms right next to the restrooms. Here, a young mother can slip inside and find a large plush chair and a cotton curtain that she can pull across to breastfeed discreetly. Most of these nursing rooms also have a diaper changing station and running water, as well. They can also be locked from the inside.
In single use bathrooms, the fold-up baby chair on the wall is one of my favourite features. More than three years ago now when my daughter was not yet a year old, I used these chairs regularly. They were perfect for enabling me to use the facilities without having to sit or lay my infant on the (likely dirty) floor or on a dangerous (and often wet) bathroom countertop.
My daughter always loved to be able to dangle from the wall and watch me. She still loves it now. Even at age four, she asks to be put into the fold-up chair when we find ourselves in a bathroom like this. I don’t mind. She’s too big, of course, but I relish the few minutes that she’s out of trouble because she’s trapped in one place. That is, of course, until she whines to get out!
Photos: Courtesy of Ember Swift