Getting out and about with your baby is very important, particularly in the early days. So for those without a car, all it takes is some planning and preparation, to make using public transport with your baby an extremely convenient and inexpensive mode of transportation. Planning is particularly important – there is a lot to negotiate with as you will be leaving the house with your baby, the pram, your nappy bag, your handbag. Check bus and train timetables before you head out so you’re not in a mad rush or waiting around to long.
Public transport with baby – staying safe
Until three months, newborns need to lie flat in a pram to support and protect their backs. When they are older, you could get a light pram that’s easy to fold for ease of lifting up and down steps. Do not leave the house without the all important nappy bag with all the essentials (see page 158 for a definitive list). Baby wearing is ideal for using public transport. With your baby in a sling you can go practically everywhere. They allow you to keep your baby close, while giving you free use of both hands to carry bags or buggies onto your bus or train. Babywearing Ireland (babywearingireland.ie) recommends that parents follow the TICKS rule for safe baby wearing.
- T – tight
- I – in view at all times
- C – close enough to kiss
- K – keep chin off the chest
- S – supported back
The most important considerations are correct leg position, sufficient back support, and stabilisation of the head.
Travelling by train with a pram can be relatively straightforward. Be aware, however, that platform heights vary and there can be a substantial step up to the train from the platform, or a gap between the train and the platform. All manned stations in Ireland have a portable ramp on hand. Check irishrail.ie for details of wheelchair access (and hence pram access) at your required stations.
If you decide to leave your child in the pram during the journey, remember to put the brakes on and keep one hand on the pram at all times. Always exit the train backwards if there is a big gap between the train and the platform. Some babies find the motion of a train soothing, however do take a favourite toy, a blanket and a storybook to help keep your baby entertained.
Many buses are designed for wheelchair access so they can be the handiest way to get around with a pram. Always check if the bus company you are travelling on provides wheelchair access. On smaller buses, you may be asked to collapse your pram to carry it on board and, unless you’ve got a spare pair of hands, that can be quite tricky while you’re holding your baby and everything else. Strangers are your friends in these situations; don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you have a newborn, you need to check with the airline to see from how many days old they allow babies to fly. Some airlines may request a doctor’s note to say both mum and baby are fit for travel. Generally, if your child is under two years old they will sit in your lap and share your seat. Even if your baby is sitting in your lap they will still need a ticket. To help prevent your baby’s ears popping during take-off and landing, try to time it so that you can breastfeed during these periods.
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