London is a wonderful city, full of green space, full of activities for children and adults of all ages. As a parent of a little one, it can also be a scary place, one full of escalators and commuters, rush hour crammed tubes, cyclists whizzing past on Boris Bikes, drunken city boys, and lost tourists, but it needn’t be so scary, its just a busy place with people trying to get from a to b at their own pace, and with your baby in a carrier it can be a lot easier to navigate. So, embrace the world of Babywearing, strap in your little one and enjoy all the city has to offer.
I hope my advice in this article can help you to enjoy all that the city I called home for fifteen years has to offer you.
Babies on the Tube
Remember the tubes are so regular, you might need to let a few go by before a nice emptier train appears but this might only be an extra 5 minutes wait, but it will be worth it!
I traveled on the tube at least once a day for almost fifteen years and I always saw Mums and Dads with their little ones happily travelling about. Obviously with a carrier life could be a lot easier for you, be aware that the tubes can get pretty crammed a lot of the time, and people have a tendency to shove themselves in. If you are carrying your little one in a backpack style carrier take extra care because someone might end up getting hit in the face, so my advise would be to take it off when on the tube, but it will be invaluable for the escalators and for getting around. Sometimes if you have your baby in a sling, mei tai, front carrier, or wrap it might be hard for people to actually see you are Babywearing on a busy tube, so always try and get a seat, or try and get away from the packed door area, everyone crams in by the doors so get yourself down the tube in the aisle between the seats, its always roomier there. And remember the tubes are so regular, you might need to let a few go by before a nice emptier train appears but this might only be an extra 5 minutes wait, but it will be worth it!
If you insist on taking a stroller or buggy then you might have to do a Blanche Dubois and ‘rely on the kindness of strangers’, I can’t remember a time when I saw a Mum struggling up stairs or escalators with a buggy alone (I for one would always lend a hand). You will probably find yourself getting a helping hand from a dishy man in a suit, and however in love with your other half you are, its always a confidence booster!
Useful London with A Baby Maps
Have a look at the step free map, or avoiding steps map, these will give you a great idea of the best tube stops to use for easy getting about. Most of these will have lifts. Most central tube stops will have platform guards who will be happy to help point you in the right direction.
One of the things most invaluable I learnt about central London which saved me a pretty penny and also helped me to keep nice and fit was that when you start walking it, you realize how small it really is and it is often really easy to get from A to B without using the tube at all. For instance you could get the tube to Leicester Square and from there go to Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, Trafalgar Square, the Strand, Buckingham Palace all by foot as they are all only about a 5/10/20 min walk away.
Here is a button link to London Underground’s Tube Maps:
A really useful site to visit is Walkit.com this site gives you detailed walking instructions and maps.
Here is map which shows you the number of steps between certain stops in the centre of town
Final top tip for London tube traveling would be to get yourself an Oyster card, this makes everything a lot easier getting in and out of the stations and it will make life a lot cheaper. A single on the tube between two stops in zone one is £4 if you pay by cash, but on an Oyster Pay As You Go it is only £1.90, a pretty big saving.
Travelling By Bus
When on board a bus with a little one, make sure you are sitting safely or hold on to one of the poles or handles
London Buses can be pretty confusing, so make sure you plan your journey. I always check out the tfl’s wonderful journey planner to make sure I am getting the right bus in the right direction. The drivers can be the least friendly people in London, so by all means ask them for advise (you might get a nice on!) but better advice might come from a friendly face in the queue. Oh that reminds me, people don’t queue for buses in London, they will just cram around the doorway and pile on, so just go with it and try and get on safely and soundly. Babywearing on the bus will make you life a lot easier, but again remember that people might not see you are Babywearing so keep safe hands round your little one to avoid anyone being squished. A lot of Bus routes and stops will insist you have already bought your ticket before you board, this should be advertised at the stop and there should be a machine for you to buy your ticket at, but again my advice would be to get an Oyster card, pop some cash on it, and use this. It will work out cheaper.
London Bus Drivers are a law to themselves and will stop and start randomly and jerk about (this is probably due to crazy pedestrians, or cyclists, so I’m not intentionally being mean to bus drivers!) so when on board a bus with a little one, make sure you are sitting safely or hold on to one of the poles or handles. Don’t use the steps until the bus is safely stopped if you are on the upper deck. Just take extra care of you and your little one when aboard one of London’s big buses.
If you are traveling with a buggy or stroller, most buses will have some space (this is designed for wheelchair use) you could put your buggy here if there are no wheel chairs users aboard, but some drivers will insist you fold up your buggy, and some won’t even let you on, so be patient and know that another bus will come and the driver might be a bit more kid friendly.
Babywearing In London
Check out more in our London Guide for Parents with young children and babies
London has thousands of hotels, B&Bs, guest houses and hostels and choosing one to stay in will leave you feeling like you really need a holiday! Using recommendations from people I really trust and using by own experience of living in London, and working in the cutsomer service industry here are my top tips for staying somewhere stylish, clean and above all very family friendly.
A day out in London with a baby can be full of all kinds of wonderful activities. I lived in London for 15 years and share with you some of my must do’s if you are spending some time in England’s capital city with a little one, and also why babywearing is the best way to explore London and all it has to offer.