Traveling with a baby in a taxi can be super scary as a new parent. Out of the comfort of your own car, there is that uneasy feeling of being out of control in someone else's vehicle.
Taking your baby anywhere outside your own home can be a stressful situation, and traveling in a taxi just compounds the stress and anxiety. A few of the big questions that most parents have are when traveling with a baby in a taxi are:
- What are the local laws and rules?
- Is it safe to travel with a baby in a taxi?
- Do I have to put my baby in a car seat while in the taxi?
- Will my driver get annoyed or frustrated if the baby is crying or screaming?
There’s no magic bullet that can make the stress disappear, but there are ways on how you can travel with a baby in a taxi that will alleviate some of the anxiety.
Here are ten helpful tips on how to travel with a baby in a taxi that all parents can try out:
How to Travel With a Baby In A Taxi: 10 Tips
Tip #1: Know the Laws of Traveling With Baby In Taxi
In many US states, taxis are exempt from child safety restraint laws. As a result, the current best practices for keeping your child safe in a taxi may not correspond to the current laws.
SafeRide4Kids is an amazing resource to understand state-by-state child restraint laws in the United States. You will notice that laws vary from state to state and even neighboring states will have different regulations (taxis are exempt from car seat law in New York while they are not exempt in New Jersey).
In the United Kingdom, government regulations state if a taxi driver doesn’t provide the correct child car seat, children can travel without one - but only if they travel on a rear seat and wear an adult seat belt if they’re 3 or older. 3 years and younger don’t require a safety belt.
The first step in understanding how to travel with a baby in the taxi should always be to understand the law so you are not putting yourself (the parent) in danger of breaking the law.
Once you learn your local laws, you can decide how you want to travel with your baby while in the taxi.
Tip #2: Understand Your Baby Taxi Safety Options
If the law doesn’t require you to have a car seat while traveling with your baby, you have two options:
- Bring your own car seat or booster seat and install it;
- Hold your baby in your lap;
I have many friends who choose not to use a car seat in a taxi and instead hold their baby on their lap and put the belt around both of them.
While I respect each parent’s right to make their own decisions on how to travel with their baby, this method comes fraught with risk. Every ounce of science shows that it is safe to have a baby in a car seat.
It's important to remember that there is no magic bubble around taxi cabs that make them safer than a normal car.
Personally, I choose to always have my baby in a car seat when traveling in a taxi. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “The use of seatbelts and child restraints is one of the most important actions that can be taken to prevent injury in a motor vehicle crash.”
A recent WHO review of several studies showed that child safety seats used for children ages 0-4 years can reduce the need for hospitalization by 69% and reduce the risk of death for infants by 70%.
Bottom line, it's always safest to use a car seat.
Tip #3: Get an Easy Car Seat to Install
If you ever tried to quickly install a car seat in a taxi, you know it can be a crazy stressful experience. Not only are car seats difficult to install under normal circumstances, but oftentimes you have an impatient taxi driver looking to get going on as quickly as possible.
Most car seats are bulky, heavy, and awkward. You likely don’t want to use your primary car seat as the one you take in a taxi. Rather, you want to find car seats that are:
- don’t require a separate base; and
- can quickly be secured with a seatbelt.
I am not into recommending which car seats to buy for taxi travel, but there are plenty of options on the market. Just remember that models change every year and the newer models continually get lighter and easier to install than some of the older model car seats.
Tip #4: Communicate with Your Taxi Driver
Before I get in a taxi, I always let the driver know that we have a baby and that I will be installing a car seat. Anticipating some impatience, I am super polite and first thank the driver for his/her patience while I go about the business of installing the seat.
I have, on several occasions, encountered drivers that were impatient and unwilling to wait for us to install it. It would be easy to get angry, but you have to brush it off and just let it roll off your back.
The #1 priority for you is to safely get you and your baby to your destination, and if your driver can’t agree to that - it’s better to find someone else who will.
Overall, we have met some wonderful drivers who have shown great patience and kindness as we navigated traveling with a baby. More often than not, you will find that your driver will be very helpful and patient as they can understand the stress you are under.
Tip # 5: Call a Local Taxi Ahead of Time
If you are not in a big city like London, Manchester, New York or Chicago, you can call ahead of time and ask if the local taxi has a car seat. You would be surprised to find out that many taxi fleets have a number of car seats and they will be happy to accommodate your request.
Uber even has a car seat option called “Uber Car Seat”. Your child must be 2 years old, 22 pounds and 31” tall to use this service. In areas where it is available, there is a $10 surcharge on top of your normal fee.
Sure, the car seat won’t be a good as the one you have in your own vehicle, but if the choice is between a car seat and no car seat - it’s always best to have a car seat.
Tip #6: Practice Makes Perfect
One of the best hacks on how to travel with a baby in a taxi is simply to practice.
I practiced installing and uninstalling our car seat over and over. It gave me the confidence that I could not only do it quickly but more importantly, that I could do it correctly every time.
It is easy for me to get flustered when trying to get my baby and a car seat into a taxi while others impatiently look on. Knowing how to use our car seat inside and out made a big difference.
I also bring the car seat manual or make sure I have a link to the car seat manual that I can look up on my phone. If something unexpected goes wrong with the installation, it will make troubleshooting a lot easier.
Tip #7: Be Ready to Entertain Your Baby
Once you are settled into the taxi, you still have the challenge of keeping your baby happy and calm. This can be especially hard when babies are in a new environment, like a taxi.
I pack a few simple, multi-sensory toys that will allow you to play with your baby. What works best for me is to have toys my child has not yet played with or ones I haven’t given to her in a few weeks.
I pack toys that are small and make sure the toy is something that can be used in a variety of ways for entertainment.
If my baby has a small stuffed animal or blanket that they find particularly comforting, I like to bring that as well (but don’t lose it, or then you will have a whole new problem on your hands).
Tip #8: Be Prepared for a Mess
I think it might be the universal law of parenting that the second we try to venture out of the house with our babies, they will projectile vomit, spit up, or have an explosive blow out in their nappy.
I recommend that you are prepared for things to get a little (or a lot) messy. No matter how short or long the taxi ride is, I always pack:
- Plastic bags for containing big messes
- Extra diapers and wipes (pack more than you think you will need)
- At least 2 small absorbent burp cloths
- Several paper towels
- An extra outfit for baby
- An extra shirt for myself
If you come prepared, you’ve already won half the battle. There is nothing worse than sitting in the back of a taxi and your baby throws up on themselves and you still have 20 minutes left to go in your ride.
Tip #9: Time It Right
I always try to make sure my baby is fed and well-rested going into a taxi ride. I nurse or bottle-feed my baby before we head out in a taxi to eliminate any fussiness from hunger.
I will also give her a little while to digest before jumping right into a taxi to eliminate the odds of her having a massive spit-up. You should give yourself at least a half hour after feeding before putting your baby in a taxi.
One thing I always try to do is to plan our travel around my baby’s naps (if possible). The more I can stick to my baby’s typical schedule, the better.
Tip #10: Stay Calm
I control what I can to make my taxi ride with my baby go smooth, but I also accept the fact that things will go wrong. I sometimes struggle to install the car seat, taxi drivers occasionally get annoyed, or my baby screams her head off.
When things get rough (and it will) remember that you are doing the best you can. Put your focus on taking care of your baby and try not to worry about what anyone else thinks.
Easier said than done, I know.
A calm parent means a calm baby. The more stressed I become, the harder it is to console my baby. I always remember, my responsibility is to take care of my baby, not all the other people around me.
If they are annoyed or judgmental, so be it.
How To Travel With A Baby In a Taxi Like a Pro
Using any form of public transit with a baby can be challenging, but there’s no need to over-stress. Aside from a few bumps your trip will go smoothly and you will gain confidence to travel more with your baby.
Look at it this way: If everything goes wrong and you end up with a screaming vomiting baby and an angry driver - at least you will have a great story to tell at your child’s wedding!
From one nervous parent to another, I’ve found that most of our travels with our baby in a taxi have been smooth and incident-free. After traveling with your baby in a taxi just a few times, you will feel like a pro.
Just like me.
About the Author
Megan Nelson is a mom to two daughters, works full-time with a pediatric cancer nonprofit, and enjoys writing blogs and articles about parenting, running, and healthy living. She currently resides in Colorado.