If you've ever set foot inside a men's bathroom in a public place, then you already know everything there is to know about why some dads choose not to take their little ones in there.
Girl dad Muhammed Nitoto went viral earlier this year for calling attention to this very real issue. He's got two young daughters whom he often takes into the women's room when he's with them out in public, because men's bathrooms just aren't kid-friendly. Even those that do have changing tables (which is, unfortunately, rare), those tables are usually out in the open by the urinals.
"As a dad being out with daughters I never thought the bathroom would become as big as a issue as it is," he wrote in the caption for the viral post. "Usually we would go places and they have FAMILY bathroom which are meant for people with children but what I found was most places don't have them and Dads are left to decide between taking their daughters to the men's bathroom or the women's."
So when Nitoto is out and about and left with limited options, he uses the women's bathroom for daughters Zendaya, 5, and Zuri, 3. And yes, he respectfully asks before using it.
“I say, ‘Excuse me, ‘I’m a dad, and I have my daughters with me. Do you mind if I bring them in?’” Nitoto tells TODAY Parents in a recent interview. “If I hear the door open when we're in a stall, I re-announce myself. I don’t want to surprise anyone. I know some women have experienced trauma and might be afraid. I try to be as respectful as possible."
“I’m a 6-foot-2 Black man,” Nitoto continues. “I had no idea what the reaction would be.”
He explains that not only are most men's rooms not equipped for dads to properly care for their children, but they're usually filthy.
"Now I've been to a men's bathroom millions of times but walking in with your daughter makes you look at it completely different," he writes on Instagram. "Men's bathrooms are DISGUSTING. They smell like pee and nothing is setup for a woman or a person with a child."
My own husband is a "girl dad," is 6'5," built like an NFL linebacker, and is covered in tattoos. Understandably, he's also been wary of using a women's bathroom and typically just resorts to the car if there aren't any family bathrooms available. It's annoying and completely unnecessary. We need to do better when it comes to ensuring dads can change their babies' diapers or help their little ones while out and about. Moms aren't the only parents who take their children out of the house.
In the meantime, Nitoto is grateful that most moms are very understanding when he's out with his daughters and needs to use the women's bathroom.
“Being a dad with daughters, it’s just a completely different experience than being a mom with a son,” he said. "And I think moms understand that."