Dining in the West Village with a baby

Although I’ve obviously dined in the West Village more times than I can count, I have never really thought much about the fact that when I went, I rarely saw strollers in the area, especially when you compare the volume of strollers seen on the Upper West and Upper East Sides. You mostly see younger people with their partners, their friends, dining out, brunching. And then, when we went to have a late lunch at a spot known for its burgers in the area, I was reminded of why this is likely the case.

The further downtown you go, the more you realize how tight and cramped all the restaurants are. The tables are typically smaller and closer together. There are usually very narrow aisles to get from one part of the restaurant to the next. And the bathrooms are usually ridiculously small. You are lucky if there’s even a full sized sink. There is usually a half sized sink with a side faucet (always the worst because those get water EVERYWHERE), a toilet, and potentially a paper towel dispenser and/or a hand dryer, all in less than five feet of space. I am 5’3″ and about 117 lb now, and if someone MY size finds these bathrooms tiny and cramped, then I cannot even imagine what a slightly larger, wider person would think.

Right before our burgers came, Kaia was happily sitting in her high chair, and Chris noticed she smelled, so I took her diaper change items and carried her into the bathroom after I scoped it out. I had JUST enough space to change her on the floor (where else was I supposed to do it? I’ve gotten used to this across all our Saturday outings from when she was four months old onward). Of course, she had a poop. She screamed and cried, as she always does in dark, cramped bathrooms on the floor in scary New York City restaurant bathrooms. Multiple people tried to open the locked door into our bathroom. But we got through it. I brought her back to our table, and we finished lunch. And because she really wanted to get yet more poop out of her… well, she had yet another bowel movement before we left. So for the first time, I had to change her diaper, a SECOND poop diaper, at the same restaurant… ON A TINY FLOOR. At least this time, she was in a much better mood and even babbling as I put her new diaper on and washed my hands.

It would be so, so nice if restaurants were mandated to have real changing tables in their bathrooms in this city. I’d feel less miserable in situations like this, as would my baby. But then again, more space typically means a higher price for rent… which then means…. well, we’ll all pay more for our food. But it’s not like these spaces are getting bigger overall. At least she didn’t have a blowout like she did last weekend.

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