There is no doubt that traveling with your child on public transportation can be difficult. Not only do you have to ignore many aggravated looks from other riders, but you need to formulate an involved plan from the time you leave the house until you reach your destination.
FORMULATING YOUR PLAN
STEP 1: What to bring?
The first order of business is to make sure you have everything you need for the day’s journey. Pack as though anything can happen. The essential items are diapers, wipes, binky, change of clothing, blanket, a book or toy, a snack and a sippy cup already filled with water. You can never foresee what could happen on the subway and being prepared for a long wait due to delays or accidents is not out of the ordinary.
STEP 2: Prepare your child.
Since the subway can be a new experience for a child creating a game or fun activity out the ride can make the travel easier. Try singing a song, or playing find the object. Children can also be scared of the loud noise and/or the crowds on the train so telling them how exciting and what a “big girl/or boy” adventure it is will make it more enjoyable for all parties involved. Try to increase the involvement of the child by preparing them for the excursion.
STEP 3: Give yourself plenty of time.
You will need extra time when traveling with a child, especially if you are totting along a stroller as well. It can become complicated and time consuming to find the elevators at each one of the stations. In addition, the trains do not follow at strict schedule, so you do not want to be rushed when trying to catch the train. If you own a smart phone, you can download an app that gives the expected time of the next train. Many have found this useful.
STEP 4: Safety, safety, safety …
It is best to have your child securely fastened in their stroller when arriving at the station. Try and find a transit assistant when first entering the station. This individual will be able to give you tips on special fares for children, special seating and the evacuation process should there be an emergency. When entering through the gate use the handicap option. This is wider and easier to maneuver a stroller through. DO NOT place the stroller or the child directly on the escalator. This is dangerous and could cause harm to the child, yourself or a bystander should you lose control of the device. Always take the elevator. When you arrive on the platform try to find the least crowded area to wait for the train. There are police call boxes located at various spots in the station. Attempt to find a place next to one of them in case an emergency occurs (i.e. your little throws their absolutely irreplaceable lovey onto the tracks). When the train has arrived and you are ready to board you can either take your child out of the stroller and carry them aboard, or if you can find a train that is handicap accessible so you can roll the stroller on. If there is a gap between the platform and the train do not let your child enter on foot or push the stroller over the opening. The space is just large enough to catch a little foot or a wheel of a stroller. When on the train either sit the child in the seat next to you, or take a seat yourself, face the child to you and lock the wheels. Lastly, when arriving at your stop make sure the train has come to a complete stop and the doors have opened before you stand to make your exit.
Regrettably, subway/train accidents do happen if you are not careful. But, if you follow the safety precautions your ride can be an easy and inexpensive mode of transportation.