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April 18, 2009 6:42 AM   Subscribe

Anyone have any tips on taking public transportation with an infant? Bonus for Boston-centric and the T-based green line?

Do we strap in the car seat? Do we just hold it or set it down? Should we go for any special seats? Tips tips tips?
posted by Nanukthedog to Travel & Transportation around Boston, MA (17 answers total)
Slings, wraps, bjorn's are you friend. Because you'll have the baby close but have hands free.

If you'll be out for awhile, bring a small strollers that you can fold up quickly to put baby, diaper bag and/or shopping bags in. Don't bring the larger stroller that goes with the infant carrier, they're too hard to carry up bus stairs and will take up too much space.
posted by saffry at 6:51 AM on April 18, 2009

On preview: What saffry said.

There are no special seats to strap in a baby carseat. I'm trying to remember what I've seen people do; if I recall correctly, I've definitely seen people simply carrying their children in baby bjorns. I think, too, that strollers might be ok.

I'd give the MBTA a call to confirm all this.
posted by archofatlas at 6:52 AM on April 18, 2009

I have never traveled with an infant, but I can tell you what I see other people do on the T:

On the red, orange, and blue lines, where there's a lot more real estate, I usually see people put car seats down on the floor right in front of them while they hold the kid in their laps. I also see lots of stroller action (can be tough on crowded trains, so stick to the ends of the train and don't try to get on in the middle. There's really nothing to strap the car seat to.

On the green line, because there's less floorspace and the layout is weirder, it's tougher. If you're doing outside Boston to Longwood (I assume that's Riverside --> Longwood?) I don't think it'll be TOO crowded for you, so my recommendation would be to either have the kid in the carseat next to you in a double-seat, and just keep your arm on the seat to make sure it doesn't slide off or anything, or sit in a single seat, carseat on the floor next to you, kid in hands.

Alternatively, from my childless but observant experience, I'd really go for the stroller rather than the carseat. Unless the kid will end up in a car later, I don't think it's the right tool for the T.
posted by olinerd at 6:53 AM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

On the green line, try to stick to the low-floor cars (look at the external differences here) as they have much more room inside AND you can get in without dragging your stroller up the stairs. These are in service on all lines now.
posted by mkb at 7:07 AM on April 18, 2009

The green line is just not made for strollers, at least at rush hour and during Red Sox games. Babies, at about 1/8th the size of human adults, have no business taking up a place where 3 people can stand. However, carrying a baby and holding on to a rail while jostling around through some of those turns may make me less cynical and snarky.

I second the small, foldaway stroller. Keep the kid in that until you can get a seat, then fold it up and *stash it away* (don't make me trip over it!). And seriously, those giant three wheel monstrosities they call jogging strollers (that no one is ever actually jogging with) are to be left at home.

really though, aside from the tone of my post, I am deeply touched that you asked about this. Most people are inconsiderate when it comes to child transportation on the Boston subway. I appreciate your concern. Some of my earliest memories are riding the T, specifically the green line.
posted by nursegracer at 7:29 AM on April 18, 2009

I noticed while visiting Boston that nobody gets up for people with babies, or for kids. I offered my seat to a family standing up with a kid that looked to be around 4, because when the train took off, he seemed to have trouble keeping balance. They didn't take me up on my offer though, and a few other people on the train looked at me like I was from outer space.
posted by fructose at 7:36 AM on April 18, 2009

i think the best advice for travelling with wee-ones is 'leave plenty of time'. there's always room for a stroller - even in a crowded T during rush hour. its true that little ones take up a lot of space, but i've found that people will make room for you.

we've always been able to get a stroller onboard the subway (DC Metro/T/Taipei Metro), if not, there's always the next train. we've never used the car seat - there's no way to secure one to a seat on the train (that i've seen).
posted by askmehow at 7:44 AM on April 18, 2009

i should add, that you need to have the proper attitude when boarding the train. don't be apologetic about bringing a stroller on. adopt that attitude that "i need to get somewhere, i've got a baby, they need to get there too". i've found ppl accept that.
posted by askmehow at 7:46 AM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

From the baby's perspective (ok, I'm not a baby, but my parents didn't have a car til I was 11 and I still curse the day they got one): I wouldnt't go stroller-less because it's not like the baby is the only thing you're going to have to carry. Get an umbrella stroller. They're small and they're cheap and you can take them on the escalators or even pick them up and carry them on the stairs (so you don't have to go in the urine-stink of the elevators). I'm not sure why you're taking a car seat on the T.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:01 AM on April 18, 2009

I am in the Netherlands and I take my wee one on the tram (like the Green line) all the time in her moby wrap (sling). I also take the stroller on the tram, but that is a bigger hassle. Would not recommend a carseat as its a huge hassle and hard to carry - its all about my back!
posted by zia at 9:28 AM on April 18, 2009

I am not a mom nor a Boston commuter but one thing that I noticed here on busses is that it is really safer to hold the baby and fold up the stroller when negotiating stairs. I've seen mom's try to very carefully get a stroller with baby in it up the three steps into the bus with some near catastrophes and one where her friend was helping her but the stroller wheel caught on the way out the door and the baby pitched out. Thankfully, the little girl was fine if upset and her mom, of course, was beside herself. More often, I see the bus drivers inform parents that they need to fold up their stroller until they are inside the bus.

Anyway, it's got to be stressful to negotiate all that -- I'd practice folding up a stroller one handed and walking up some steps before getting into a crowd situation. But, I see moms and dads doing that all the time so it can be done.
posted by amanda at 9:56 AM on April 18, 2009

The green line has no straps with which to strap in a car seat (or anything else). You'd do best to wear the baby in a sling/carrier. Space on the green line is at a premium - it's very, VERY often standing room only and taking up an extra seat with an infant car seat might not even be an option.

If you do take a car-seat, hold it on your lap. The green line stops/starts often and setting the car seat down on its own seat (given that there's no way to strap it in) is asking for your baby to become a projectile.

The other option would be to take a stroller, but this will be a huge pain as most green line stations don't have elevators and half of the cars have stairs that you *have* to climb to get in. If you do this, take a seat closest to the door and hold on to the stroller. I take a stroller on the T on a regular basis and keep one of my feet behind the wheels as I don't really trust the stroller brakes with aforementioned stopping/starting.

Really, the sling/Baby Björn is your best bet for maximum infant safety.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:14 AM on April 18, 2009

Also: while mkb is right that the lower trains are in service on all lines, you can't always find a train that has a low car. I've still seen plenty of trains that only have the higher cars.

And it's also true that no one in Boston is going to give you an extra seat for your baby, so if you're carrying a car seat and the T is full... there might be literally no place to put it. If it's standing room only, the floor isn't an option. And yes, you have to be totally unapologetic about shoving around your stroller because no one will help you or get out of the way for it. No one will help you carry it down the stairs either.

The T is a circle of hell wherein you experience the maximum level of rudeness possible - especially when traveling with children.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:18 AM on April 18, 2009

Best answer: don't be apologetic about bringing a stroller on. adopt that attitude that "i need to get somewhere, i've got a baby, they need to get there too". i've found ppl accept that.

No they don't. They just grouse at your specialness but most are too reserved to call you an asshole to your face, especially because there's a baby there. Fold up your stroller.

I have a five month old, and here's what I've done on the trolley:

-kept her in her car seat and brought the fold-up Snap and Go to use as a stroller when we got to our destination. On the way in I got an outer seat and put the car seat on my lap. it wasn't terribly comfortable, but it was okay and respectful of the space. On the way back we had to stand for a bit, so my wife and I took turns holding the car seat. After two stops, someone gave us their seat.

-Put the baby in a Bjorn. This was much better.

It sounds like your baby might not be big enough yet for an umbrella stroller. Car seat and Snap and Go are the way to go right now, with a Baby Bjorn. If your baby's ready for a stroller, here's my suggestion:

Umbrella strollers have their place, but they're not comfortable for any long period for a small baby and pretty awful to push. You need a stroller that's lightweight, folds easily and does rough sidewalks well-- three-wheeled strollers are the best for Boston sidewalks. Another bonus is one that will recline fully to allow the baby to nap better when you're out and about. There are a LOT of strollers that fit this bill, and you'll get all sorts of conflicting advice.

We have researched strollers very thoroughly, and decided on the the Baby Jogger City Mini. This is because it is among the lightest three-wheeled strollers, yet it will still handle my child up until she hits 50 lbs. MOST Importantly, it folds with one hand. It retails for 229 bucks, so it's not cheap but it's not the most expensive stroller out there by a lot. Strollers, I have decided, are Veblen Goods. People buy expensive strollers not because they are appreciably better than $250.00 strollers, but because they are conspicuous consumers who want you to know that they did the "best" for their baby. More expensive strollers will roll a little better (a drawback to the City Mini is that it has foam rather than pneumatic tires), but few are as light and none fold up as easily. They also sell very well on the used stroller market (check craigslist), so even if you buy new and take decent care of it you'll get most of your money back.

I have to reiterate, don't take an uncollapsed stroller on the T. Only selfish assholes do that.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:35 AM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You know, there are a lot of people here throwing around words like "asshole" that sound like they've either (a) never been parents or (b) never had to rely on public transportation. I live in the Boston area and regularly take the T. I also have what someone here may have referred to as a "three wheeled monstrosity" -- specifically one off these. I have two kids that I need to move around town, and once I'm off the T I may still have several miles of walking in front of me. An umbrella stroller simply doesn't cut it, unless you enjoy a sore back.

Add Boston winters to the mix -- with unshovelled, icebound sidewalks and giant puddles of slush at every intersection -- and umbrella strollers simply aren't an option. Period.

I can't believe the level of aggression expressed here towards parents who are just trying to get around town. That person with the stroller taking up three seats? He's probably been on his feet all day, dealing with dirty diapers, fussy kids, and hoards of other idiots who simply get mad because he's going slow/taking up space/blocking a seat.

It makes me embarassed to live in Boston. Seriously, not all of us are as rude and inconsiderate as it may seem from this thread. If you have any questions about getting around town, please feel free to contact me privately. I've lived in the area without a car for close to ten years, and I've had kids for just about three years.
posted by larsks at 4:44 PM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is Seattle based, but Bus Chick is a blog by a woman who uses public transport and has a small child, there might be some good notes there.
posted by jacalata at 5:49 PM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm based in San Francisco, not Boston, but I travel around on transit all the time with my 6-month old and have done since he was just a few weeks old. I absolutely love the Ergo carrier for transit trips. There's a pocket on the front that is big enough to hold a diaper, a few wipes, your wallet and phone, so if you are just going out for an hour or so, you can be completely hands-free. If I need to carry more, I take a backpack - again so that I have my hands free for holding on if I don't get a seat. Plus, the Ergo has a hood which is great for giving your baby privacy if it gets busy (with the hood up, its even possible to nurse on transit in total privacy). I look out my fare before I leave the house, so I'm not trying to find change when the bus arrives. In San Francisco, you have to fold up strollers before boarding transit which means that its virtually un-usable for anyone with a stroller (try walking up a busy bus aisle as the bus moves with stroller in one hand and baby in the other - SF MUNI please wake up to the needs of young families!). I never take a stroller or car seat on transit for that reason. Finally, my son absolutely loves riding transit and much prefers to travel that way than strapped in his car seat in the back of a car (which usually results in a lot of yelling from him and stress for me) - on transit he can watch what's going on inside and outside the bus, inter-act with me and he loves the attention he gets from other passengers.
posted by Bullhespy08 at 10:04 AM on April 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

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