family restroom at the airport

Family Restrooms (and How to Find Them While Traveling)

Family restrooms are fantastic for families with kids and while they’re common in many airports and malls, they aren’t everywhere.

What is a Family Restroom?

Family bathrooms tend to be slightly more spacious, so you could roll in with a stroller. It has a changing table, and a toilet and might even have a smaller toilet for kids (the last one is rare, but I’ve been to a few).

Who Can Use Family Restrooms?

This special restroom is reserved for those who need a little extra space and assistance, as most family restrooms are also wheelchair users accessible. People who need more privacy or have other disabilities can use them too.

On top of these two obvious reasons, a family bathroom is gender-neutral, so it serves a transgender or non-binary person as well, because it’s a safe enclosed space.

They are especially great for parents with children of the opposite sex, who might still be too young to go to the toilet unaccompanied, even when potty trained. I actually encountered a sign on a regular bathroom at a waterpark that asked all boys 3 and older to use the men’s bathroom and while my son was 2.5, but looked older I received strange looks. A family bathroom then would have come in handy.

The most common issue is that not all men’s restrooms have changing tables, so fathers with babies may require a family restroom to change diapers.

Where to Find Family Bathrooms While Traveling?

Family restrooms are as common abroad as they are in the US or Canada, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t find them. And more importantly – need them.

Most European destinations will have family restrooms at airports and bigger hotel lobbies. I actually find the Italian, Polish, and British family restrooms glorious with extra chairs to unload baby stuff.

These facilities will be placed in a standard bathroom, not necessarily a family bathroom. These days in various European countries you’ll find separate feeding rooms, so you don’t need to block the family bathroom to nurse.

Some rest areas in the US have family restrooms for those needing bathroom assistance. If you’re driving through France, Germany, or Switzerland, there will be family restrooms available almost at every rest stop.

When You Should Not Use Family Bathroom?

While family restrooms are getting more and more common, the truth is that there’s usually only one around. It’s a place to take care of your business and get out, allowing other people to use it too.

The family restroom rules say that it’s NOT for someone who just feels like pooping in solitary.

Unless your child is special needs and requires tube feeding, a family bathroom is NOT a place to nurse or pump for ages. I can recall two instances when I was waiting at the airport for almost 30 minutes along with 2 other families to change my baby’s diaper as there were no changing tables in a small women’s bathroom because someone else decided to breastfeed her baby in there.

Considering that breastfeeding can be done in public and changing a poopy diaper on a bench next to the gate is questionable (let’s be real, even as a parent I bet you don’t want to sit next to a poopy diaper being changed unless of course there’s nowhere else to change the baby).

There are multiple nursing pods or hidden pumps that can solve the breastfeeding issue.

Be considerate when using a family restroom!

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