Change at the White House, baby!

May 4, 2009

Blog Guy, we’re coming to Washington, DC in July with our small baby. Will there be places were we can change her diapers?

Sure. Just take her over to the White House. Go to the historic Cross Hall near the East Room, and look for this elegant antique bench in these photos. If there’s no bothersome president strolling by, you can try using that as a changing table.

See, that surprises me. It seems like it would be rude to change diapers at the White House.

It depends on how spunky you are. Look at this woman who was there a couple of days ago for a ceremony. She was doing the diaper change when a uniformed usher escorted her to a more suitable place.

More suitable place? Where would that have been?

Nobody knows. I don’t think she was ever seen again.

Lose weight easily. Join the Oddly Enough blog network!

Twick or Tweat? Follow this blog at rbasler

Above: President Barack Obama walks through the Cross Hall at the White House to a news conference marking his 100th day in office, April 29, 2009. REUTERS/Jim Young

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with President George W Bush as they walk through the Cross Hall in 2006 file photo. REUTERS/ Jason Reed

Below: Military usher suggests a better location than the Cross Hall to change a baby’s diaper before an event in the East Room, May 1, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

More stuff from Oddly Enough


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

But change is what we all voted for…..

Posted by detroitjohnnie | Report as abusive

[…] mater’s decision to honor President Barack Obama would discourage pro-life women in crisis Change at the White House, baby! – 05/04/2009 Blog Guy, we’re coming to Washington, DC in July with our small […]

Posted by Posts about Barack Obama as of May 4, 2009 » The Daily Parr | Report as abusive

How CRASS! How CRUDE! How UNCOUTH! I for one agree with the usher! When my son was small, there were few options available for changing a child’s diaper anywhere. Now there are a multitude of PRIVATE restrooms with changing options available just about anywhere. THAT is a more suitable location.Besides all that, I think it was very rude and totally undignified for this woman to just plop down and proceed “just anywhere!” After all, we are all supposed to be dignified and refrain from disagreeable displays in such a place as the White House, public or not! Do you see a handy waste receptacle anywere, either? I certainly hope it wasn’t a messy and stinking diaper, either! Imagine the kid, years from now, either visiting or looking at pictures, and having his/her mother say, “And there is the bench the usher kicked us off of when I was just trying to change your diaper!Besides that, if nothing else, if this is an actual picture of the event, that bench is a somewhat-valuable antique. Did you notice that the woman didn’t provide any “protection” against possible “spillover,” either?

Posted by Kathy Schleicher | Report as abusive

The picture w/ the woman changing the baby is cute, but I would’ve tried to find a better place to change my son’s diaper too. I wouldn’t want to change my son in front of camera’s and everyone.

Posted by Kathryn | Report as abusive

Now, was it poopy or just wet?? It does make a difference

Posted by Val | Report as abusive

Ok, so the lady could have been more discreet about where to change the baby. Especially where cameras are concerned. However, as dignified as one might be, we all know that babies don’t have such values. I realize that society likes to pounce on the littlest tidbit that can get the ball rolling, but people please also realize that everyone,(past and present), are parents and they must surely have compassion and understanding for the situation. And whether or not there was a more suitable place for the child, maybe the mother panicked during a situation and tried to solve the problem as quickly and hassle free as possible. Obviously that plan went awry, but for those of us who are parents, try to be more understanding.

Posted by Butterfly | Report as abusive

Here here Butterfly, I totally agree. Cut the lady some slack, she may not even be from the states and manners are cultural. I’m sure the woman is especially embarrased and I feel for her. Being a mother is hard work and trying to fit in a formal function as well as change diapers seems to me to be extra stressful. I think the woman was completely unaware and meant no disrespect. Surely we all have some compassion in our hearts.

Posted by AgentKellyD | Report as abusive

i duno what kind of changing tables YOU ladies use, but that “antique chair” (if that’s really what it is) looks EXACTLY like the changing table my own mother used for me!

Posted by minnow | Report as abusive

Sure its a bit tackey… but never the less funny!!

Posted by Tara | Report as abusive

I think it maybe no changing table in the restrooms of the White House, or maybe she did not find them, I remember when I was in a fast food restaurant, they did not put changing tables in the big and nice restroom, so I had to use the seat I was in, nobody told me NO! because it was my right as a mother to pay attention to my baby’s needs. And also I have seen some mothers change their babies in a bench from the park, since the restrooms are very dirty and unsanitary.

Posted by Yani | Report as abusive

I am a parent of grown children and a grandmother of 4. And I have changed many diapers. And have always looked for a designated place to change that diaper. The mother should have looked for a designated place for diaper changing or asked where that place might be located. She had to know that what she was sitting on was an antique and was not the place to do that. When she is in her own home she can change diapers any where she wants. But she was not in her own home. Has common sense and manners just vanished .

Posted by Charlotte | Report as abusive

A government for the people and a government of family values. Do you really believe that? It isn’t election time so you will not hear any mention of family values for another four years. Now it is about idiots in suits spending more tax money for self interests. News media is more worried about “how is the royal dog.” If you are looking for a place that is full of shit then why not start at the White House? Is this really news? Get over yourselves.

Posted by Justin | Report as abusive

This is very unfortunate. There is a time and a place for everything.

Posted by Savvy | Report as abusive

Sympathy is fine, but no excuses. If the guest is dignified enough to invited to an event in the East Room, a little more sensibility would be preferred.I`m not certain, but you don`t typically change your child`s diapers on your host`s couch do you?

Posted by X | Report as abusive

No, I will not be understanding……. it is just good manners and having a brain you don’t change a diaper on my sofa or bed without a changing pad and then is is not a good idea without having everything you need before you begin…….. I notice women under 50 do not even have their supplies or anything usually they just whip it out and do their thing never knowing there are good manners that doesn’t do those things………. plus is it common sense….Emily Post used to let people know what was acceptable and what was not…. Most people never heard of her… ha!!! but it is probably true…. the anything goes mentality has hit us !!!

Posted by Leah C. De Batty | Report as abusive

Exactly who was the lady?-&Never been to the WH but they surely must have restrooms for the public

Posted by candiruacu | Report as abusive

NO Excuse – the ladies room – that is where you change diapers.

Posted by a mom | Report as abusive

What kind of event was it? It looked relatively formal. Can you say….Babysitter? 😉

Posted by Sparky | Report as abusive

Sorry folks, but if this photo is real – all of you defending it ‘for those of us who are parents’,or it’s CUTE? please! What do the cameras have to do with it? It’s the pure unadulterated germ factor that’s so disgusting. My God, how totally gross! Yes, I am a parent – no compassion, no understanding for the loss of couth in our society. Gross is Gross. And offensive is offensive.

Posted by Nan | Report as abusive

It’s no worse than taking a leak against the wall of the building. Probably happens all the time.

Posted by detroitjohnnie | Report as abusive

Quote:Besides that, if nothing else, if this is an actual picture of the event, that bench is a somewhat-valuable antique. Did you notice that the woman didn’t provide any “protection” against possible “spillover,” either?Actually, it looks like she has some sort of pad under the child. However, I personally would not risk changing a baby on a beautiful antique, nor would I just plop down anywhere and do the changing. All she had to do was ask someone to direct her to an appropriate spot.

Posted by my_tee_mouse | Report as abusive

Give the mother a break… changing diapers only takes about 30-60 seconds. The attendant should have given her a hand rather than move her on. A baby is a wonderful thing, we ought to support each other rather than worry about protocol.

Posted by Glenn | Report as abusive

Let’s see: Rude,arrogant,stupid,thoughtless, self and baby centered,ignorant of common courtesy,disrespectful etc.People like this are annoying in the extreme.Keep the child at home with a sitter or learn how to change a diaper WHERE APPROPRIATE!!

Posted by Gilbert Nelson | Report as abusive

I agree with both Ms. De Batty and Nan, it was gross,rude and uncalled for. I am almost 50 with two kids and three grandchildren, and I would never dream of changing a diaper in anything other than a designated place for changing diapers, unless I had absolutely no other choice. Obviously, this upperscale mother had choices. She just chose not to avail herself of them. (I’ll bet the White House bathrooms are nice and clean!)A babysitter would have been the most obvious choice. As far as the possibility of a different culture making this ok or not, give me a break!

Posted by Londonrose | Report as abusive

Oh please, sure she could have found a place, and in the time it took, the baby is getting a rash. Get over it!Antique…… cleans up as well as anything.

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive

This just proves that it really is the People’s House.

Posted by Jen | Report as abusive

This shows the problem with America now, lack of respect. The mother does not even have enough sense not to change a diaper on someones furniture, let alone an antique. Wonder what she would have done with the dirty diaper? My guess is she would have left it there. America has become a nation of rude, arrogant people who are only concerned about themselves.

Posted by Helen | Report as abusive

Where/when was she going to wash her hands? This is what gets me about the “quickie” diaper change in public. I’ve had two kids and know nature doesn’t always call at the best moment, but come on people! Use your brains.

Posted by Mom | Report as abusive

Why all the hoopla and anger over this?The politicians are doing much worse than that at the White House and everywhere else.Maybe in 35 plus years the kid will get elected, now that would be an interesting story. Let’s follow diaper gate and see where it leads??? Hum, could it be… oh forget it – it would be bad taste to suggest a love child……nice picture and lots of laughs, I hope to remember not to sit there on my next visit….I hope they don’t let the dog do its stuff on the White House lawn, any pictures of that?????

Posted by Doc Dangee | Report as abusive

Really? Who cares? People say its rude to change a diaper on the couch of your host. Please, its not like the president paid for the furniture, its partly my furniture, and partly that mom’s furniture. Is it important because the president walks by the furniture? No. Rude, not rude, does it really matter?. If the white house wanted to stop or lessen the occurrence of this kind of activity I’m sure they would just institute a diaper changing tax that allows one to change a diaper in the white house. I guess the comfort of government officials is priority. Life is short, focus on something more important than thoughts of etiquette around those of so called “importance.”

Posted by tax payer | Report as abusive

Most mothers would look for the ladies room. In posh places like the white house there would certainly be changing tables. There would most assurdly provide a sitting room. These are things one finds in very, very nice retail stores.

Posted by pmoseley3 | Report as abusive

c’mon people, feces are feces, even when they come from a baby. if the diaper was of some wheelchair bound person (child OR adult) people would be horrified. i think the same people who would consider changing a baby’s diaper in the cross hall of the white house are the same people who think they should grace us all with the presence of their obnoxious children at restaurants, on airplanes, in stores… look, just because you think your child is ‘all that’ doesnt mean everyone else does.) a great adage says ‘remember, no one thinks your child is as cute as you do.’ parents should take heed.

Posted by WhatTheHuh | Report as abusive

Babies are wonderful and body functions are natural… HOWEVER, we leave in a society where common courtesy dictates that one must find and appropriate place to change a baby’s diaper. The mother was completely out of line by acting like if she was in her own house and not in a place where she should conduct herself with some decorum.

Posted by Elisa Fernandez | Report as abusive

Where did she wash hands ?

Posted by loretta langley | Report as abusive

Anyone who does not find this rude and out-of-line needs to get some education and respect. Support her? Give her a hand? Glenn, you’re just as bad. Does this matter? Absolutely. Because etiquette is not just for the White House. Treat *anybody’s* house like it’s important and people will treat you like you’re important. Change your child on *my* couch and I’ll usher you to a more appropriate place as well…like your house, on your nasty couch.

Posted by Bird | Report as abusive

that’s so absued and very ,very impolite and very very rude. even in your own house, you go to the bedroom or your baby’s room to do such thing. this womwan is very uncourteous to herself. has no self-respect.

Posted by carmelita | Report as abusive

Its not like she’s spreading the diaper on the bench, but I think common sense would tell you to look for a bathroom and use a bench in the White House as a last resort, the very last. She probably wasn’t even thinking about it and just caught up in the moment, with a screaming, tired, hungry, dirty baby. We all have our “Oops, I f%&#ed up” moments.

Posted by cediaz | Report as abusive

What a lack of respect for the White House and other people. These are the same people who flop their boob out in public and breast feed their babies. I don’t want to see either.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

this is funny but it waznt right to change the baby there its just not right

Posted by lmao | Report as abusive

What I find absolutely disgusting is you people that complain about this. Anyone who has had a child with sensitive skin knows that time is of the essence when changing a diaper. Intead of being annoyed with the mother.. Be annoyed with the person that took the picture. How much more intrusive can you get. Perhaps that was the closest place. Maybe the baby was hurting. There are a million different reasons that she could have chosen to use that spot. The attendant could have stood in front of her. As to cleanliness and what to do with the diaper, ever heard of hand sanitizer and baby wipes? And why do you think its called a ‘Diaper Bag?’ It’s not just for clean diapers.

Posted by DisgustedwithAmerica | Report as abusive

the picture above it with obama isn’t the same as what is above the lady’s head- is it the same couch or even the same location? not that it matters- diaper changes should never be in public view. that’s why there are bathrooms. and if there’s not a diaper table in the bathroom, why would you choose to change the kid on an antique couch!!?? next time, try the floor, lady. probably cleaner than a diaper table anyway.

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive

It is the same couch and the same location. The difference is, sometimes the bench is squared off under the portrait, and sometimes it ends at the cutout aread which is visible in the shot of the lady and the one of Bush and Merkel.

Posted by Robert Basler | Report as abusive

Lighten up everyone. Yeah it was a stupid move but we’re all human. I’m sure all of us have done things in a moment that we look back on and think…”what was I thinking!?” None of us were there and no one knows the circumstances. Everyone is so quick to judge and feel that they know for certain what the situation was. However, none of us do. Get over it.

Posted by chicagoliberal | Report as abusive

WTH? I take a little time off from posting to adjust to the new baby and this is what happens? I can’t leave you alone for 5 minutes, Bob!I’d like to change Zoe’s diaper on the desk in the Oval Office. Talk about a photo op…We’ve put up with YOUR crap Obama…now YOU put up with OURS!

Posted by K | Report as abusive

OK EVERYONE NEEDS TO GET A LIFE!!! THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH WHAT THAT LADY DID!! WOMENS PUBLIC BATHROOMS ARE SO SMELLY AND DISGUSTING!! I cannot blame her! I never change my baby in a public restroom! The stench is enough to kill you and if you’ve ever put your baby on a public changing table….uh yuk! I can’t speak for whats at the white house but I betcha there isn’t one.

Posted by Candice | Report as abusive

You said it, Candice! I’ve been to the White House, and the restrooms there are so putrid, well, they may as well be port-a-jons. They’re so bad, if nature calls I generally risk my life sneaking past the Secret Service and go out on the South Lawn.I understand the President’s latrine is no better. And don’t even get me started on the kitchens…

Posted by Robert Basler | Report as abusive

Firstly, I have two children. Both have very sensitive skin. However, I make my way to the nearest bathroom, armed with a changing pad to lay on the changing table. My child is not going to lay in someone elses excrement, just because people just don’t take the time to wipe it down with a clean wipe these days. It takes 10 seconds! I wipe down before and after. If you wipe down equipment before and after at the gym, why should this be any different? There are plenty of bathrooms in the White House, equipped with changing stations and disabled access. If the kid had just wet his diaper, he can make it the extra minute to get to the bathroom. If he had been wet for awhile, the parent clearly felt it was not an emergency. Either way, that extra minute will not make the skin any worse, and that “rash” logic is just nonsense. I’ve been through bad rashes with my children. It doesn’t mean I usurp common courtesy and respect. Really…..Secondly, if someone were to come into my home with a child, I let them know where the changing table is in my son’s room. I also point out the spray cleaner, which lets them know that I prefer they spray and wipe down the pad after use. Some people are not as sanitary as others, but a simple gesture helps make them aware that personal property should be respected. I’ve had people park their kid on my bare carpet before, ready to change their kid. Wrong! A show of hands…. who wants to walk around barefoot in fecal matter? (And yes, plenty gets left behind….) Thanks for changing your kid where MY kid plays!Thirdly, I don’t know about anyone else, but dirty diapers never go back in my diaper bag as is! They are placed in another bag, which is secured shut, then they go into the bag. Also, I NEVER throw away the diaper at someone’s home unless it is in a plastic grocery bag, and even then, it is only in the bathroom garbage. Throwing it into the kitchen garbage is wrong on so many levels. Hey, how hard is it to take it home with you, anyway? If you have a problem putting it back into your diaper bag, just think how that person feels about you throwing it away in their kitchen?Fourthly, those who change their children on the floor in a public place like that are probably not that concerned with washing their hands. I find it very hard to believe that she intended to wash her hands after she was done, because she could have changed the kid in the restroom in the first place, and washed right after. Oh, and thanks for touching things with your filthy hands once again… share it with everyone else.

Posted by Whereareyourmanners? | Report as abusive

I knew when I was 10 years old that that would be a skeevy, dirty and inappropriate thing to do.Nasty and low class. Seriously, WHO thinks this is OK?Yes, I managed to have and raise two kids without changing them in public. It can be done if one decides to live their life with a bit of class and dignity.

Posted by DeeM | Report as abusive

Right then, when the picture was taken, it would have been so great if the kid (hopefully a boy) suddenly and with great abandon shot a geyser straight up in the air. Now that would have won a Pulizer.

Posted by learjet | Report as abusive

Here’s another idea. If you are going to the &#$@ing WHITE HOUSE, get a sitter!!This woman is a selfish dolt. Just because you have a baby doesn’t give you the right to soil WHITE HOUSE furniture. Sheesh!!

Posted by jazz | Report as abusive

Changing one’s baby in public, on an antique chair is just rude and inappropriate. If the mother cannot find someplace appropriate to change her child, she should leave it at home with a sitter. WHY do some parents think that they are entitled to nurse wherever they want, change their infant wherever they want, etc.? The world does not belong to parents alone. No, I WON’T “get over it”. I am sick to death of parents thinking that the world revolves around them and their offspring. The world is not your oyster.It’s sad that people don’t seem to be taught manners and appropriate behaviour any more. This will only get worse with the poor parenting that passes for child-rearing these days.

Posted by Lights | Report as abusive

Absolutely vile behavior. The entitlement of parents who think they can do whatever they like, wherever they’d like. I couldn’t agree more with Whereareyourmanners, who speaks from the experience of raising children and yes, dealing with the inconveniences of nasty public facilities but making do very nicely, because it’s what’s ultimately best for her kids, her health, and the interests of the public. Does it even appear that this clueless woman has something underneath the baby to protect the furniture? And no, clearly she wasn’t going to wash her hands afterward. And the diaper would be disposed of. . .where, precisely?Yeah, bathrooms can be nasty. But I persevere when I need to change a tampon. I don’t just whip it out in the middle of the White House because I can.

Posted by Abby | Report as abusive

Umm….so the nation is closing schools and bathing in hand sanitizer over a flu bug, but it’s all right to risk contaminating public areas with excrement?

Posted by Cynthia | Report as abusive

Taking an extra minute to find the bathroom isn’t going to kill anybody. They have bathrooms for a reason people! Picking an antique couch in the White House, good lord! Americans (and I speak as one) are losing all common sense. Think about WHY we have bathrooms. Something does get left behind and I don’t want to sit on it! Or eat on it, do you know how many moms are ok changing babies on tables where I eat as in restaurants?? And as someone else said, just because your a mom, the world is not your oyster.

Posted by sam | Report as abusive

Just because you’re a mom, the world is not your oyster…Well-said. I think we’ve got the makings of a beautiful Mother’s Day card here!

Posted by Robert Basler | Report as abusive

Diaper changing ANYWHERE but the bathroom is wrong, inappropriate, inconsiderate, and rude. If mothers can’t behave with the proper decorum in public, then they should either stay home, or at least leave their kids at home. What is an infant or toddler going to glean from a visit to the White House, anyway? She probably thinks it’s OK to change her kid on the table of a restaurant, you know, because bathrooms are so “filthy” – but to h3ll with the next person who will sit at said table to eat their food.

Posted by KFLL | Report as abusive

I was at a restaurant on Sunday waiting for food, and we asked the owner/manager for the key to the bathroom. I wanted to change my son’s diaper, but she told me they had no changing table, and that the bathroom was too filthy for that. Then, she actually told me to change the baby on the table, and that it was “ok.” Ummmm….. NO!! Being the outspoken person I am, I told her how disgusting it was that she suggested changing my son where other people eat, and that I would do no such thing. We left and walked two blocks to get to the stadium, where I was able to change him in the restroom there. Yep…. my little guy was all too happy to wait the few minutes it took to do the security check and find the bathroom, and I didn’t contaminate a restaurant in the meantime.Hint: As far as changing pads go, I made a nice one with two peices of cute fabric and just sewed them together. (Even one peice, or a towel even) would get the job done, but I wash mine regularly, and wanted durability.) It’s large enough to cover the standard size table, so that his hands aren’t able to wander and find surprises…)This way, it doesn’t matter what shape the surface of the table is in- he is ALWAYS protected and comfortable)

Posted by Whereareyourmanners? | Report as abusive

[…] Change at the White House, baby! – Reuters BlogsBlog Guy, we’re coming to Washington, DC in July with our small baby. Will there be places were we can change her diapers? Sure. Just take her over to the White House. Go to the historic Cross Hall near the East Room, and look for this elegant […]

Posted by Adult Diapers – Mounted divisions brush up on search and rescue – Ludington Daily News « Adult Diapers | Report as abusive

I think its disgusting and the people supporting her are rude and self centered, as is she. Obviously there are appropriate facilities for her and her child’s needs in the White House. Respect the place for what it is and what it represents. Don’t “diss” other visitors to the White House because you cannot see beyond your own nose. The county has literally gone to the toilet because of the self centered entitlement minded people like this woman and the people who support her. If you cannot properly take care of your issue (child) then don’t have them.

Posted by Geanie | Report as abusive

I know this woman and the usher actually told her to change the diaper there because the only available bathroom was attached to a room the president was in. When the usher saw the cameras snapping she thought better of her idea. A lesson in judging someone without knowing the context – and in how misleading pictures can be.

Posted by zed | Report as abusive

It makes no difference IF someone TOLD her to just go ahead and change the baby on this antiue bench in the middle of a hall way in the White House, or not… the simple fact is she should have had alot more common sense, and decency, to have told the person NO, that it wasn’t the place to do something like that – especially given the fact that so many things could go wrong during a change — destroy the bench then what?? Ooops, sorry but it wasn’t my fault, someone told me to change the baby here?? Yeah right… common sense – you are, after all, in the White House!!!!!!! Show just a little bit of respect for your surroundings!!

Posted by JWJ | Report as abusive

[…] Oddly Enough ” Blog Archive ” Change at the White House, baby! | Blogs | […]

Posted by Pregnancy blogs, baby blogs, parenting blogs | Report as abusive

[…] 2. Change at the White House, baby! […]

Posted by The best dumb stuff from May… | Not So Headline News | Report as abusive

[…] 2. Change at the White House, baby! […]

Posted by The best dumb stuff from May… | | Report as abusive

This is great!This is what democracy is all about.That bench is property of the American people. The baby and the mom both look like people to me. Somebody needs to take care of the American People’s business (number 1 and number 2). :)How come the politicians in DC can spread all the poop they want, but the babies they kiss when they need votes have to take it somewhere else?Why is this news again?

Posted by Christophor | Report as abusive

there is clearly a changing pad under that baby.

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive

[…] Oddly Enough » Blog Archive » Change at the White House, baby … […]

Posted by Pregnancy blogs, baby blogs, parenting blogs | Report as abusive

[…] 3. Change at the White House, baby! […]

Posted by Your choice, the dumbest stuff of the year… | | Report as abusive