public transport with baby
Safety

Top information for using public transport with baby

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.

Trains

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.

Buses

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.

Planes

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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ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.