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.
I’m a single mom living in NYcity. Actually I really really scared take a bus with my son since his one year old. Because I need to take him out the stroller. Every time I need to go to grocery store with my son by bus . After we went home, I need to hold him and lots of stuff i need to take out of the stroller and fold it. I don’t think that’s safe you hold the baby when bus running. It mores safe his in stroller. And when I get off the bus I need times to open the stroller and put the stuff in the stroller in the street. It was more worse if it was a bad weather. I so frustrated and exhausted but I need to do all the things by myself. Sometimes I will get help from people but still hard for me . And I will appreciate is my son be quiet and good manners in the bus. I really hope NY city can change this role about take the baby out when you need to take a bus. Please help us who need help.
I have a 15 months baby.. she makes me embarrassed in front of others at bus. She is crying and screaming all the time without any reason. I am so tired , I don’t know what to do.. ..I have to use bus everyday .
It can be tough to keep up the bus commuting with a crying baby! It’s lots to juggle. I’ve ridden the bus many times and there has been a baby crying – I find people are usually pretty understanding. That doesn’t make it more relaxing for you though! If you’re looking for a buddy to take the bus with (or maybe bike or walk?) Go Manitoba is a free app that could help you connect with a mentor who might help you figure out tips and tricks to smooth the way. Hang in there!
I have been taking my 3 year old on the bus for 2 years. It’s an intermittent thing but he now loves the bus. For him as soon as he could walk we would go on outings, we would go on off peak times and we live at the end of a route so he could get on an empty bus and choose his spot and watch out the windows. It made the experience a really positive one for him which he now looks forward to.
Thanks for adding your own thoughts, tips and experiences! I too have experienced the frustrations of being passed with my son by several buses on very cold days. Recently while I was riding a bus, a fellow passenger spoke up for a family about to be passed on the road. She reminded passengers that a family was about to be denied service because people would not move on back. It worked! I thought this was fantastic, and wished this passenger were on my bus all the time!
I have a 8 year old and a 18 months old — and we regularly use transit. 8 years ago the buses were not as full and we used a stroller. I find the buses are busier and I prefer using a carrier for the youngest, I also felt I could protect her from the wind (when waiting for a bus) better in the carrier, than in a stroller.
I bring toys that she normally doesn’t play with or snacks in case of a break-down, singing works too. (If you’re not too embarrassed).
When my oldest daughter was younger she once cried on the bus and a man offered her $5 to be quiet. It worked!
We are also regular transit users, live really close to transit routes, and have been travelling with our now 14 month old daughter on the bus since she was 2 weeks old. In general, I feel using transit with my baby is easier than by car. I did experience one rude comment from a fellow passenger, but after she left the bus, the other passengers expressed their support for us!
One problem I encountered this winter though on the long commute from daycare was lack of accessibility. One time while waiting with my baby in -40 degree weather at our transfer point, a total of four buses passed that we could have taken that were not accessible by stroller as they had stairs. It was extremely frustrating. Sometimes when this happens strangers have helped me, but there was no one to help. This was during peak rush hour. I made a complaint to transit and it seems to have improved.
When encountering the few disapproving passengers that begrudge the stroller or the baby on board the bus, it may help to remind yourself that so many more passengers are supportive, even empathetic for parents who are potentially sleep deprived and zapped of their energy. I believe many delight in having little ones on the bus. The sight can make the trip very pleasant, drawing people’s attention away from their music, games and books.