Baby on a bus situation
August 31, 2012 8:58 AM   Subscribe

So it looks like I might need to start taking the baby on the bus to her daycare, which is downtown. I say baby… she's pretty much a toddler now, being just under one and a half, and pretty squirmy with it to. My preferred travel option with her when on foot is to put her in a backpack, which she loves and which chills her right out, but we also have a stroller. So… what is the best way to carry her on the bus? I've considered just standing with her in the backpack the whole way, but it seems like there might be a safety concern. There's taking the backpack off and keeping her in it, which seems like it might have similar concerns. Taking her right out of the backpack and putting her in my lap seems like it might be the most safety conscious option, but that assumes a seat and that she will stay put - that later condition being highly unlikely. And then it may be the same deal with the stroller. Thoughts?
posted by Artw to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (34 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a carrier you could use to carry her in the front? Something like an Ergo might work well. We use ours on public transit and it's great for standing or sitting.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:01 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: She probably won't want to stay put, like you said - I think your best bet is to let her bring a toy or stuffed animal that she likes, and THEN when she gets bored with that, you whip out ANOTHER toy or stuffed animal which will momentarily occupy her attention!

And sing to her, tickle her, whatever it takes, man! Some kids love it when you point to things and say the name; perhaps yours will enjoy repeating the names of things she sees. Point is, try to make it a fun thing for both of you instead of a chore. Think of it as playtime/show 'n' tell.
posted by Mister_A at 9:02 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I vote for the backpack, since you're otherwise having to futz around with the stroller while getting on and off the bus, and then what do you do with it once you've dropped her off? Maybe wear it and wedge yourself someplace where you're sort of blocked in and can't go falling every which way?
posted by jquinby at 9:02 AM on August 31, 2012

I use a manduca (similar to an ergo carrier) with my child in the front, and find it very convenient to take him on public transport to childcare. He is 12 months old.
posted by FrereKhan at 9:03 AM on August 31, 2012

Response by poster: Do you have a carrier you could use to carry her in the front? Something like an Ergo might work well. We use ours on public transit and it's great for standing or sitting.

We do - haven't used it for a bit as she's getting a bit big (and, um, now has feet at nut height when in the thing) but it may be worth a try.
posted by Artw at 9:03 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: NOT the stroller. Seattle buses are hell with a stroller, even the teensiest umbrella stroller. I would vote for either backpack and sitting in one of the people-with-kids-or-disabilities seats so you can sit sideways, or get a front carrier like an Ergo or Baby Bjorn. Remember that as a person with a young child, you are supposed to get priority for those seats.

When you say backpack, do you mean a soft carrier or something with some structure to it like one of those Kelty backpacks with a tripod?
posted by KathrynT at 9:06 AM on August 31, 2012

Best answer: Is she an old pro at taking the bus, or will this be a novel thing? Because some kids get SO HAPPY about public transportation, it's entirely possible that she will just want to stare out the window the whole time with a big grin on her face.

Strollers are a PITA on the bus. Backpack, then if you can get a seat or two, take her out.
posted by ambrosia at 9:06 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Another vote for front carry in Ergo. You said you actually have an Ergo, a hip carry might work best based on your concerns about her feet location.
posted by jesirose at 9:13 AM on August 31, 2012

Response by poster: Is she an old pro at taking the bus, or will this be a novel thing?

This is going to be very novel for her. I take the bus with the eldest all the time, but I think that started when she was 3 or so - old enough to sit semi-still and sort-of listen to instructions.

Distractions can be provided but given Restraunt experiences I am not too sure of how well/how long that works.
posted by Artw at 9:16 AM on August 31, 2012

Response by poster: Another vote for front carry in Ergo. You said you actually have an Ergo, a hip carry might work best based on your concerns about her feet location.

I think it might be a Baby Bjorn. I'll have to check it still fits... If not I suppose I could look at front carriers for older kids.
posted by Artw at 9:18 AM on August 31, 2012

My wife and I recently took care of our 18-month old niece, who we thought of as reasonably squirmy (although, you and I may use different units of measurement for that). Anyway, we took her on the buses (in London) quite a bit.

We noticed the following: (a) she liked the bus, and got quite excited by going on the bus; (b) she was quite happy to sit in a seat on my wife's lap, even for long (c. 1-hour) journeys; (c) as buses involve reasonable proximity to strangers, the natural proto-shyness of the small child may, in such situations, contribute to the quietude of such child; (d) the motion of the bus has a soporific effect.

However, I see now that all this may be irrelevant because your question is, "... what is the best way to carry her on the bus?" In that context, I would suggest that the best way to carry a child on the bus may be in your arms, and to put her on your lap; but if I might offer an unsolicited thought, every child is different, and perhaps a short test ride on a bus might be a useful way to gather data about the squirm-retarding effects of various methods of specific-child deployment within a bus-centred environment. I think you can get a grant for that if you write a paper on it.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:20 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

If hip-carrying is an option, take a look at a Maya Wrap, as well. They are a bit pricey for what amounts to a long bit of fabric with a couple of metal rings, but they last forever.
posted by jquinby at 9:22 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Eek, the Bjorn is really hard on the back at that size/weight. The Ergo is much more ergonomic (I guess that's where the name comes from). We do this with our 30" tall 11-month-old and it works okay.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:23 AM on August 31, 2012

Oh, and another benefit of the ergo is that it's super easy to put on and take off.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:24 AM on August 31, 2012

Best answer: I often just kept my babies/toddlers in the backpack while riding buses. With a rigid frame pack It's still possible to sit down in a seat without crushing them. I don't really see any safety concern in standing, either. You might get jostled around a bit, but it's not like you're going to get turned ass over teakettle and dump the baby out.
posted by drlith at 9:25 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Can you adjust the Bjorn? From what I remember there's a tongue-like part that hangs down at the bottom, and you can adjust it to carry the weight higher on your chest so it doesn't pull you forward and might have the nice side effect of allowing you not to get kicked in the testicles.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:31 AM on August 31, 2012

Since she loves the back-carrier so much, keep her in it and stand. I have done this plenty of times. The first time will make you feel less secure on your feet, but once you get beyond that, you will be a pro!

I agree that she is going to be far too big for a front carrier, and using a stroller will be hit or miss, depending on how full the bus is.
posted by TinWhistle at 9:31 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Concerning standing on the bus the whole way: Don't underestimate the difficulty in keeping your balance on a moving bus when you've got an extra 20–30 pounds strapped to your torso. It changes your weight distribution and your center of gravity in ways that you wouldn't expect.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:33 AM on August 31, 2012

Another vote for a sling instead of a carrier. I preferred the Over the Shoulder Baby Holder as it was easier for me to use (I used a homemade Maya style sling made of ringslings and a beautiful organza-like material for a wedding).

I've most recently hauled a 45 pound elementary school age child* around on my hip (to demonstrate the use to an expectant couple). Both kids loved riding in a sling, and even positioned rather carefully on my hip were able to ride public transportation with me - loose if there was seating, mostly on my lap if not.

Standing with a kid is hard if you aren't used to it. Your center of gravity will be all kinds of messed up, might want to sling them around the back to compensate if you two must stand. I have fallen a couple of times in a misstep, but whenever I was on a bus with a kid, I took the sling off of me, not the child, and kind of used it as a leash for him or her to stand with me. One fall was to the ground but I curled and got under the kid, the other was into a pillar and I took the pillar, the kid was just shaken. And I'm all KINDS of clumsy.

Additionally, consider the supplies you will need to haul. I'd consdider a small backpack or cross body bag you can wear almost "counter balanced" when you walk, if not a very light rolling back pack you can drag along (or the kid can, "leashed") for daily diaper, clothes change, lunch etc supplies. It will take practice, but you might want to get one with a buckle strap handle so you can wear it under or over the sling as you wish, but adjust via buckle without unslinging the child.

* Most slings have a 40ish pound official limit, but a brand name sling shouldn't have any problem going over that a bit. As the child gets older, they are better able to "help" you by wrapping their legs around you. I have also carried the kids on my back in the sling (once while shopping at a lumber yard while a hurricane was in our path) and it's not as bad as you might expect. I also had special songs we sang while slinging about slinging, and sometimes the kids would clamor to have the sling draped around them while sitting in a shopping cart. Making small kid-friendly slings for them to use with their toys was also a hit.
posted by tilde at 9:42 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you decide on the stroller, check with your local bus authority because they may not allow it. In San Francisco, all strollers have to be folded up while on the bus and kids can't sit in them.
posted by artdesk at 9:44 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, to add to the "special toy" thing - one of the great bennies of an OTSBH is the ring on the end of the sling. You can snap "sling time only" toys onto it. :)
posted by tilde at 9:45 AM on August 31, 2012

I had a carrier like this for toddlers. Simple and storable in a backpack when not in use. The baby's weight is carried on your hip, but the straps keep your hands free.
posted by readery at 10:08 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with the quidnunc kid that this is a good age to get the kid interested in the fun of transit. Hold her in your lap, point out interesting sights along the trip, maybe talk with nearby passengers, or narrate the comings and goings (yes, he's getting off, and those new people are coming on at the front!). Let her pull the cord (or whatever) when your stop is approaching. Make it a realm of fun and empowerment!

Obviously, it's easier to maintain the novelty with occasional than daily trips, but still, magic bus routines can last for years. My daughter is 4, likes to get on the bus herself and pick our seats (usually way in the back where they're higher, for the view), and pull the cord -- she has liked it since she was old enough to smile. (Back in that era I had an Ergo too.) If you're lucky, yours will become a happy transit rider and make the trip more fun for both of you.
posted by acm at 10:14 AM on August 31, 2012

Best answer: zizzle is pretty much a professional at kid-transit. (See her answer to my previous question.)
posted by purpleclover at 10:18 AM on August 31, 2012

Best answer: My kids are in their twenties, so I am very out of the loop on what is available in baby carriers these days. However, when my oldest was a baby, I routinely put him in a carrier "backwards" -- in other words strapped to my chest but facing forward so he could see the world, not just mom's face. Being inundated with new info sometimes caused him to conk out temporarily. By age eighteen months, he was carried on my shoulders when necessary, or walked next to me holding my hand when possible.

Busses were the most fascinating thing ever, because we didn't take them much. I imagine the novelty would have worn off after a bit if we had taken them regularly. When traveling generally, I tended to keep up ongoing patter, like a tour guide. For example, when driving cross country in a car I would tell the kids "We are going west on highway blah. This is the state of Missouri. We are now entering the city of Saint Louis. That is the St. Louis Arch. We are leaving the city of St. Louis...etc" It kept them quiet most of the time and also taught them a surprising amount about the world. My main goal was to keep whining and crying to a minimum. For your situation it might be something like "This is a bus stop. We can wait here for the bus. We will be taking the bus to daycare for you. This big vehicle pulling up is our bus. We are getting on the Route 12 bus. ...."

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 10:38 AM on August 31, 2012

Best answer: Anything but the stroller! Strollers are so awkward on public transport. If she already likes the back carrier, then I would stick with that for now. She sounds too big for a front carrier (back carry is so much easier on your back once they get bigger!).

If you are able to get her in and out on your own, and have time at the bus stop, then get her out of the carrier just before you get on the bus, and have her sit on your lap. I agree with others that the bus and all the people tends to provide a lot of interest, which reduces the squirminess. Also, YMMV but I found that my kids liked the carriers while I was walking, but hated them once I stopped moving around, and immediately wanted to get down. Standing up with her in the back carrier is OK too, as long as you brace yourself and hold on to something with two hands, but sitting is better when possible. Sometimes there are seats you can sit sideways in, so you can wear her while sitting, but I think lap-seated is preferable if possible.
posted by Joh at 11:10 AM on August 31, 2012

Nthing no stroller and swapping the backpack for a lighter, more versatile carrier, like a ring sling or Mei Tai or something. I back and hip carried my daughter in both until she was maybe three and my husband sometimes used them longer. I rode the bus a lot with both and it was really easy, and when we got where we were going, I just shoved the carrier in my bag.
posted by upatree at 12:18 PM on August 31, 2012

Best answer: Yeah, the Bjorn is going to kill you at the size/age. At that age I had my eldest in the hip or back carry with the Ergo (I use a Mei Tai for my smaller kiddos, but found the Ergo more comfortable for the larger sized ones), worked great for all kinds of public transportation and was easy on/off if there were seats and kiddo wanted out. My kiddos love busses and think they are great, so are actually calmer on those than cars.

No way would I ever use a stroller, I've seen people try to use them and it's just miserable for everyone. I'd walk with my kid and hold him in my arms way before I'd take a stroller.
posted by katers890 at 6:44 PM on August 31, 2012

Response by poster: Relevant photographic image
posted by Artw at 7:58 AM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: At that age and cuteness level, awwww I had my son in a backpack on the subway all the time. I didn't have any problems balancing with him -- if you're used to riding the bus and can usually keep your balance, it shouldn't be a problem. I could even sit down on one of the bench seats, with the backpack fully on the seat and me just barely sitting on the edge.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:07 AM on September 1, 2012

:-) by the way, another advantage of the sling over the backpack - I could get the kid in the sling without putting my bag down. When the kid is freaky fussy & you have confidence of experience, you can still get them in the sling, kicking legs & all (though I don't have the nut area vulnerability), much like calming a horse or bribing them to get a halter on them.
posted by tilde at 3:08 PM on September 1, 2012

I'm reading with interest as I have a similarly aged kiddo and no car. I can't say I've got a perfect solution. My husband carries the baby in a backpack on the bus. He takes the pack off when he has found his seat, while still standing, and puts the whole thing on his lap with kid facing him. I have trouble getting the pack on and off comfortably and balancing if the driver starts up too soon, so I don't do that. Kelty also specifically said in the instructions not to use it on public transit, but gave no reason why. I used to carry him in a hotsling or similar on the bus, but he's too big now. Recently, I have been using a baby k'tan with a front carry. I like that because it's a little easier for me to get him back in it than with a long wrap if I am in a hurry, even though a woven wrap would be more comfortable. However, in my town some of the buses have a stroller seating area, which is the most comfortable choice for me when I'm going on one of those routes without the husband and his backpack.
posted by SandiBeech at 7:51 PM on September 1, 2012

Best answer: That's a good point. I could take the backpack on and off by myself with nothing to support it -- there's a moment where you just swing it around and hope for the best while saying "wheeee!" to distract onlookers from what a terrible parent you are -- but if you can't do that, the backpack might not be your best option.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:54 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: TEST RUN SUCCESSFUL! - in the end I I used the backpack - the Bjorn is just too small now - and perched on a bench seat with the backback resting behind me most of the way. It went great, and she was very quiet and looking around curiously most of the way. I went pretty minimal in way of supplies and it turned out I didn't really need anything much - door to door is 45mins and she'd had some food and drink prior to leaving.

We'll see how we feel about the return trip - it's less controlled circumstances so for today we might just call in a mummy lift, though I'm thinking both ways would certainly be within the realm of possibility.
posted by Artw at 8:36 AM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

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