Being a London Mum, I’ve navigated public transport with a baby in tow and found ways to make my life that little bit easier. So here are my tips for travelling around London with a baby.
1. Download the Tube Map to your phone. Or carry a copy of the Tube Map with you at all times. You can pick up a copy from any Tube station. But this little map will be a valuable tool.
2. Plan your journey before you leave. Make note of which stations have disabled access and which ones don’t. Disabled access stations are your friend. Avoid stations that have stairs/escalators if possible.
3. Don’t forget that London transport also includes buses. So if you find that your end destination isn’t disabled access friendly via Tube don’t forget to consider the buses. I often get off at Green Park Tube station and navigate around central on the buses. I use an app called Citymapper. This is quite possibly my favourite travelling companion. You can save your journey so you can access it offline and it’ll show you various different ways on how to get to your destination (plus it’s in real time and lets you know when the buses/trains/tubes are due). It’ll show you how to get door to door, so need to worry about navigating from the bus stop to your destination as it’ll have it all prepared for you!
4. When getting on the buses you can use the middle doors and push the pram straight on and park it. Don’t worry about getting on at the front. Don’t forget to tap your oyster card though (look for the big yellow things by the doors, if you can’t see any machines near the middle doors you may have to walk to the front of the bus and tap in there quickly). Babies are of course free! (If you aren’t from London all bus journeys cost the same price, you can go as far or as short a distance on the same bus once you’ve tapped your oyster card all at the same cost).
5. When Baby London was particularly young I used to use his rain cover as I way to protect him on crowded trains. The underground is full of germs, so I felt I was doing my bit to prevent him from getting sick! He’s a bit older now with a stronger immune system so I’m not as precautious.
6. It is possible to take your pram up and down escalators. Personally I don’t like doing so, but occasionally it has to be done. It’s easier to do with two of you there (someone supports the bottom of the pram as well as the person holding onto the handles at the top) but if you’re alone and faced with escalators just stop any random person and ask them to help you, they honestly don’t mind. I go up and down escalators forwards, only do this with prams that strap your baby in.
7. Out of preference I prefer to use a pram when I’m using London transport. I don’t feel like a baby carrier would provide enough protection in rush hour. No one can fight with a pram, but many people might not notice you have a baby in a sling/carrier.
8. People in London do run around quite quickly, but they do help you. I often hang around at the bottom of staircases waiting for someone to offer to help me lift the pram up. It doesn’t take long for someone to help. When going up stairs make sure the pram is backwards (handle going up stairs first). I learnt that the hard way the first time when baby London was held in just by his straps. When going down stairs front goes down first, handle last.
9. Because of Baby London being held in by his straps I always prefer to use a pram with straps to make sure he’s secure. Even when he was younger I would use his car seat instead of his carrycot for extra protection.
10. If in doubt hail a black cab. All black cabs fit standing prams in the back. Just push the pram on and tell the driver your destination!
London is accessible with a baby but it does often take a little bit longer (I really appreciate now how hard London can be for those who are disabled and have this challenge daily for commuting). The key things are preparation and making sure you have enough milk/food. You’ll probably find your baby enjoys being on trains as the white noise soothes them. I would always make sure Baby London had a full belly before starting a journey. It took me until he was about 6/7 weeks to take him on London transport, but if you’re nervous just plan a short journey and go for it. Maybe even the first few times have someone with you.