I’ll be traveling on mass transit with my baby — what should I keep in mind?

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Photo by Flowizm, used under Creative Commons license.
My boyfriend and I are nearly at the stage of married and babies, but I’m apprehensive about one particular aspect of having a child. We have a car, but he uses it to get to work. I work in an area that is very mass transit-accessible. We know that even if there’s a baby, we won’t have enough money for a second car.

If I was traveling with the baby on my own, I’d be using mass transit. Does anybody have any extensive experience navigating mass transit with a baby (and everything that goes with the baby) in tow? I don’t want to become the woman with the huge stroller on the bus who all the other passengers hate! — Ashley

Comments on I’ll be traveling on mass transit with my baby — what should I keep in mind?

  1. babywearing, babywearing, babywearing!!!! the only way to go! there is so much support out there for babywearing!! it’s the only way we’ve navigated any mass transit!

    soft structured carriers are fast and easy, and so are ring slings…

    check out these babywearing boards & support
    a great place to buy and TRY (on loan) carriers!

    babywearing international…find a chapter near you & learn about carriers that will work for you!

    great advice board AND a great place to find used carriers!!

  2. One thing that no one has mentioned yet: don’t stop right outside the subway doors / at the top/bottom of the escalator to fix your stroller or adjust your kid! This drives me crazy way more frequently than big strollers on the subway.

    I’ve seen a number of parents carry their kid and folded stroller up the escalator and then start opening the stroller to install bubs as soon as they get to the top. This makes it nearly impossible for anyone behind them to exit the escalator.

  3. I was just curious – does anyone use a car seat on public transportation? I have never used public transportation before but will be going to a trip soon with my 13 month old were I will need it. Having never driven without my daughter in a car seat, I will feel like I am doing something wrong by not having her in one. Is that unusual?

    • Most public transit has no seat belts, so there would be no way to install the seat. I would guess that would make it not particularly useful as a safety device.

  4. As the nanny of a 15 month old (they get heavy!), carrying her all day wasn’t really an option, and so the stroller was unavoidable. HOWEVER, I managed to develop a routine for public transport with the baby and a lightweight umbrella stroller. It involved a few well-coordinated steps:

    1) placing her diaper bag and my purse on the ground (both had to be waterproof in case of rain)
    2) getting her out of the stroller once the bus/train was nearly at the station
    3) holding her hand with my left hand while deftly performing the stomp-fold-sling maneuver (folding up the stroller and slinging it over my right shoulder – gotta love the carrying strap!)
    4) reaching down and adding her diaper bag and my purse to my right shoulder
    5) reaching down again and propping her up on my left hip

    This tended to work pretty well for short trips, even when the bus/train was crowded. After a while, you get really good at this kind of stuff. I used to get compliments from strangers on my moves 🙂

  5. A bit off topic, but I just got back from an academic conference where I heard a wonderful paper on how assistive technologies should also be considered feminist technologies, as changes to public transport, etc. made as a result of the disability rights movement have aslo made life much easier for the carers of young children, who are frequently women. The author cited how bus ramps and handicapped accessible subway stations have also aided parents caring for young children requiring strollers. That this whole conversation is necessary is an interesting reminder that even our built environment privileges certain people over others.

  6. Wear your baby. It’s so much easier to use than a stroller, and your fellow passengers won’t hate you. Moreover, you can have your hands free for grocery bags. When very young, have them facing either way in something like a Bjorn, or rear-facing in an old-fashioned linen swath of cloth. When they’re 14 months or so, even if they’re awesome walkers, it helps to wear them on your hip when getting on and off the bus. My little buddy and I would take weekly excursions by bus (and I’m glad that it was only that frequent). He had a huge ton of fun interacting with the people on the bus, the strange environment, pulling the cord, and thanking the bus driver.

  7. I am a county mass transit driver, Everyone deserves the option of public transportation. My biggest piece of advice would be to be prepared! Be early, have your fare ready, and know your transit systems rules about strollers.

  8. Yay Kingston! I’m not a mommy yet, but I plan on soon. I find most people in town are quite willing to move for strollers, though you get the odd few who don’t. Though they could do something about the width of the aisles. I’ve seen my fair share of people try to slide past those huge strollers, and its not easy.

  9. I know you have a ton of responses already, but yea hubby and I dont even have a license (i’m 25, hes 28) and we have a 1 yearold as of next week.. depending on where we’re going I scout out what im going to be jumping on.. with the trams with stairs and buses I baby wear, but with trains and flat trams i keep him in his trusty 3 wheeler pram. Ive come to terms with the grumpy people who hate prams, and the stupid school kids who never move for anyone.. I always put a smile on my face and am super polite regardless of their attitude.. these days I tend to go on the transport that I know has enough room for his pram because hes a wee bit heavy… but worst case scenerio I always have my bjorn around so I can put it on and fold up the pram at a moments notice

  10. I have seen parents bring their babies with them on the bus. Some parents have strollers that fold up and can be put in out of the way places. Other parents use carriers (the kind that are made of hard plastic and upholstered with a handle for carrying) and then set the carrier on the seat next to them. I have seen a few mothers carrying babies in slings, too. If it’s cold, make sure to dress your baby warmly and/or cover him/her with some form of covering/blanket, because often you have to wait for the bus after you arrive at the bus stop, and it’s been my experience that waiting for a bus is one of the fastest ways to get your coldest. Even if there’s shelter, there are often gaps at the bottom where cold air and wind can get in and get at you.

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