Do you dread riding on public transit with your kids? We’ve got some great tips for making it a lot smoother.
Have baby, will travel. Unless, of course, you’re talking about the TTC. Public transportation is a great way to get around, save money, and lower your carbon footprint but the thought of navigating all of those subways, buses, and streetcars can seem especially daunting if you’ve got a baby in tow. Fear not, urban parents. Traveling via TTC needn’t be an undertaking. With this list of helpful tips, you’ll be happily riding the rocket, baby in tow, like a pro in no time.
Photo credit: The Toronto Star
Kid Friendly Toronto: Tips for Riding the TTC with Kids
Skip the Stroller
The first rule of baby-on-the-TTC club is avoid the stroller at all costs. While you may have spent months agonizing over the perfect set of wheels for your bub, you’re probably going to resent every inch of it once you have to wrangle it through throngs of rush hour commuters. Opting to wear your baby means that you won’t have to worry about clogging streetcar aisles, finding a spot with sufficient space, or too many strangers getting up close and personal with your little one. As an added bonus, people are far more likely to offer a seat to a parents wearing a baby. If you absolutely must bring the stroller, make it an umbrella model and fold it before boarding.
Regardless of your baby’s age or developmental stage, you have to admit that you’ve wished for an extra set of hands more than once. This sentiment will reemerge the second you step through the turnstile. Rather than fumbling with a purse and diaper bag, try consolidating all of your stuff into a single backpack or cross-body bag. Your hands will be free to take care of your babe and you won’t have to worry about setting your bag down and then forgetting it in a rush to catch the next train. A great option is a backpack with integrated top handles, a big selling point when trying to avoid bumping into your fellow passengers on a crowded bus.
Time it Right
Timing, as they say, can be everything. While the whims of a little one can be unpredictable at best, there are some things you can do to prevent, or at the very least, minimize, cross-city meltdowns. If you anticipate a long TTC trip, try to schedule your ride around nap time, unless your baby has nailed down the art of napping on the go. A sweetie sleeping in an Ergo is fine, an angry toddler who should have been sleeping hours ago may be harder to manage. Of course, sometimes it’s hard to work around a kid’s schedule and in those instances, defense is the best offense. Arm yourself with a beloved toy or entertaining book and hope that the gentle roll of wheels on tracks lulls your little one into a peaceful slumber.
Hype it Up
If your child is old enough, try pumping them up for their upcoming trip so that they see their TTC ride as an adventure rather than a chore. Get them excited about the things they’ll see, show them the route ahead of time, and allow them to participate as much as possible. While dropping a token into the collector’s box or swiping a Metropass is a mundane task for us, it can be an absolute thrill for a toddler. Same goes for pulling the wire to indicate a stop or being responsible for transfer acquisition. Make the trip an exciting (and educational) experience and chances are you’ll be rewarded with a happy little traveling companion.
Just Do It
The most important piece of advice to any parent traveling via public transit is to be kind to themselves and their babies. We are all human and we all have our days and sometimes the TTC can reduce even the most stoic adult to tears. Do your best and take comfort in the fact that we’ve all been there- we’ve all had to deal with cranky toddlers, fussy teethers, and everything in between. Sit back, take a deep breath, and be on your way. You’ve got this, Mama.
Kate Walker is a freelance writer who lives in the heart of the city with her family. When she’s not exploring the urban jungle and all it has to offer, Kate can be found stretching it out on her yoga mat or taking advantage of Toronto’s awesome neighbourhoods to go on family strolls. This post was originally written in 2014.