Can you (easily) take your baby on a transit bus?

A week ago, I was tasked with answering this question. This prompted a week of reflecting on my experiences over the past year and a half. Do the added challenges of leaving the house with your bundle of joy make transit impossible – or at least unappealing? In the end, my experiences are all I can speak with…

First, some background. My husband and I have been regular bus users since we moved to Winnipeg. We chose our home location to be near convenient transit routes. Our bus ride to work is only 10-15 minutes.We don’t own a personal car*. So we were already transit converts. When our son Jack came along a year and a half ago, there was no question we would still be using public transit. How it would go, though – we didn’t know.

What we found surprised us. Taking Jack on the bus was relatively easy. In fact, it was one of the easiest parts of our day! Since his first journey at age 1-week, we have found there are many benefits to bus travel with baby. If Jack needs something, we are right there and able to respond to him before frustrations escalate. We aren’t limited to pulling over or speaking soothing words in the rear-view mirror. We also don’t have to struggle with our large and cumbersome car seat (why aren’t these built in to cars?!). And in winter, we don’t need to worry as much about the right clothing combination. When Jack was little, we carried him next to us in a carrier inside our coat. As he gets older, we wrap him up in blankets in his cozy stroller.

I will also be honest, you will encounter a few disapproving looks or comments from fellow passengers and, yes, bus drivers. They feel you are taking up too much space, being too loud, and who knows what else. Be strong and hold tight to the fact that you have every right to use transit service, even with a baby. In my experience, this negative reaction has been the exception, not the rule.

Here are some quick tips for a smoother ride:

  • Give yourself lots of time to leave the house, and if possible, avoid peak times and packed bus routes. Plan your trip here.
  • When your baby is small, try using a sling, wrap or carrier. Your baby will enjoy the close contact, and you will have greater freedom of movement.
  • In low floor buses (no stairs), you do not have to fold your stroller up. The front seats on both sides fold up just by lifting. When exiting the bus with a stroller, leave through the front doors with the stroller facing backwards, and ease the back wheels to the ground first.
  • You will have at least one crying situation on the bus (hopefully from your baby, not you!). Take comfort, most people are and should be very understanding. As with all aspects of life with baby, patience, a sense of humour and a smile will help smooth out any bumps in the ride.

Of course, I could give you a lot more advise. But give the bus a try and you’ll find what works for you and your little one. When you do, share your experience with us and fellow Green Action Centre readers.

*We share a car with three of our neighbours! Find out more about car sharing in Winnipeg.