Ask a Mum: Your child’s safety in public bathrooms
Q: What do you do when you are not there and your significant other has to take your little girl to the bathroom in a public place? I know mums normally take their sons with them into the ladies, but what do you advise when it is Dad with girls or Mum with a slightly older boy?
A: Maureen Abila, mother of one, responds:
Normally mothers take sons into the ladies’ room with no problem, so some fathers are comfortable taking their daughters to the men’s room. Dads who do this usually wait until the men are done using the urinals then they go in and take their daughter to the stall. Personally I encourage my husband to take my daughter to the ladies and go in with her. I tell him to just stand at the door and wait until it is all clear then announce that he is coming in, then take her in, line the toilet seat with toilet paper and then flush it all down after wiping her. He also makes sure she washes her hands. The other alternative when out in a public place especially where the loos are very dirty, is to carry a potty in the boot of the car. He can discreetly get her to use the potty, use wipes and tissue to wipe her and then rinse out the potty after discarding the contents. I make sure we always have an extra potty in the boot, a small jerry-can of water and some soap, and hand sanitizer and tissues in the glove box. We always carry soap because some of these public toilets don’t even have soap. It is better to be over-prepared for a situation. Having said that, we always encourage the little one to use the bathroom immediately before we leave the house, so this really only applies for all-day events like craft fairs or going to the show, an outdoor reception or a concert.
Read more: How Safe are your Children Inside the House?
Editor’s Note: If you are worried and your child is older so you feel awkward about taking him to your restroom, stand at the door and keep talking with your child so you can hear him the entire time. If you are at a mall, another option is to ask a friendly restaurant employee (from a reputable place) of their gender to take them and you wait outside. Tip the employee to show thanks. Also teach your child never to talk to strangers in the public restrooms.
Get more tips here from a pediatrician to help you protect your child while using the public bathroom.