Why are kid-friendly bathrooms so hard to find?

There’s some sort of conspiracy going on, or people who design restaurants are just blithering idiots or something. After going to literally hundreds of different restaurants around the United States, restaurants that have spent millions of dollars on packaging or themeing their decor as family friendly, depressingly few of them have even remotely kid-friendly bathrooms.
You know what I mean if you have younger children. Toilets are all at adult height and — what bugs me the most — sinks are almost completely inaccessible if you’re not at least five feet tall.


Today we had lunch at Red Robin, a popular and successful family restaurant chain, and it hit me rather forcefully how much of a hassle it was to help my 5yo G- wash his hands after using the toilet.
The tap was too far to reach, the soap dispenser was installed on the back wall, far out of reach, and the paper dispenser was high up on the side wall, too high for him to manage without direct assistance from someone taller.
And the fix is so simple. Restaurants just need to have a small stepstool under the sink. Little folk could pull it out and reach everything, teaching them a valuable personal hygiene lesson, and everyone else could just ignore it.
Of course, my preferred solution, especially for a family friendly facility, would be to have a lower sink and an overall design that worked for wee ones, but that’s a lot more expensive. Then again, a typical themed restaurant drops a mil or more on decor and themeing, so an additional $1000 on a different bathroom design doesn’t seem too outlandish.
Am I alone here, or does the lack of smaller-child friendly bathrooms in restaurants and other public facilities both you too?

10 comments on “Why are kid-friendly bathrooms so hard to find?

  1. I agree not only are child friendly bathrooms non-exsistant but why do they always seem to stick the changing station either in the handicapped stall or right by the door so you run the risk of getting run down when people come in? I have found very very few retail or restaurant child friendly restrooms…And I certainly notice the ones that are.

  2. I agree. I have been known to grab a child’s booster seat on my way to the restroom, when in a restaurant, to use as a step stool. When I asked the manager if they could just put a step stool in there, he mentioned that OSHA would have a serious problem with that. They could be held liable if a child fell off one and got injured. I’ve seen other public restrooms, however, where they have one lower “little person” toilet, and a lowered sink in the wash area. I really don’t think it’s that big of a request. And, it would greatly encourage kids to wash their hands after using the toilet.

  3. I never knew there was such a thing as a child-friendly bathroom until a visit to a mall in a distant (and affluent) area. I approached the restroom area and noticed a separate door that said “Family Restroom,” or something along those lines. I took my two-year-old in and discovered a huge room with two toilets (big and little), two sinks (tall and short), along with doubles of all the amenities (soap dispenser, paper-towel dispenser, etc.). I was in love, and dragged my husband back to see it with the vow that if we ever remodeled our bathroom at home, this was what I wanted. I definitely note the more family-friendly places, and give them as much of my patronage as possible, out of sheer gratitude.

  4. My name is JP – I am a five year old boy. Today when my mom took me to the mommy’s bathroom I was very angry because I don’t want to go in the girl’s room. Mommy says I need to stay with her. What do you think?

  5. Hi JP. First off, good job being able to type at the tender age of 5! I can understand you being mad about going into the girl’s room, but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. I don’t let my 5yo son into the bathroom alone in a public place either.

  6. )) so, does JP do math too? 🙂
    You are right, there is an amazing lack of bathrooms for kids. it is simply a lack of awareness.
    The local library does have a step stool. but this is hardly adaquate as the soap etc where still too far to reach without climbing up on the counter itself.
    I suggest that a few well written letters sent to the major chains could make a big difference. And send the letter to the local college as well, because that is where the designers get trained….

  7. I wouldnt get too worked up about it – pretty soon the ACLU will start forcing every business to provide a smaller everything because of little people. Not our children mind you, Little People with capitals. Not a bad thing if business would do it voluntarily. I also hate haveing my kids get soaked down the front of their shirts simple becuase they are trying to be clean. I agree with th eletter writting campaign – I may start today.

  8. This is a great thing to keep in mind. We have been given an incredible opportunity to start a restaurant that is family-friendly from head to toe with a $50K business grant. Check it out at http://www.iwilljuststart.com under profile ‘aderouch’
    We need your vote, and we promise the bathrooms will have smaller fixtures available for all of our kids!

  9. We just visited Knotts Berry Farm in Los Angeles this past weekend. When I took my girls (ages 3 and 5) to the restroom I couldn’t believe it! They have these amazing step stools for kids in the restroom and both my girls could reach the sink. Finally!!! The company who makes the step stool is called step n wash and when I went to their website http://www.stepnwash.com they said their step stools are in 200 other places. Why have I never heard of these before?!? Even better…why did I not think of it first??

  10. I just saw Step N’ Wash at Orlando Airport. WOW. My two young children used the Step N’ Wash all by themselves and they were able to reach the soap and the faucet.
    I also visited their web site and sent them an email of praise for their step stool. I hope other retailers, restaurants, airports, etc. get these soon!

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