travel with infant and car seat

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by infantmom, Mar 6, 2011.

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  1. Mar 6, 2011 #1
    I will be traveling from Boston to Philly with my 6 1/2 mos old son. I have reserved seating for 2 on regional train. Do I have to use the car seat? is there a seatbelt for it? Can I use the stroller pushed up to a table seat or a handicapped wheelchair spot (of course only if it is not need for a wheelchair)? I prefer the stroller because it is roomier and can be tilted up or back depending on his sleeping.

    Please advise me about what to expect for the seating. Thank you
     
  2. Mar 6, 2011 #2

    Ozark Southern

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    There are no seat belts aboard an Amtrak train, but you will not need them. Amtrak does not require car seats or booster seats of any kind, and they do not require those under 2 to have their own seat. In fact, since our River Runner is rarely sold out, we've always been able to use the fourth seat in a given row, the kids by the windows and each parent on the aisle. The conductor did not mind us using the fourth seat at all, since there were plenty of them available. On the NE Regional, which does sell out some routes/times, you may not have this luxury.

    Regarding the stroller, no you will not be able to use it aboard the train. I have not seen a conductor ever make an exception for this. Additionally, strollers, while not counted against your baggage limit, must conform to carry-on size limits of 28" x 22" x 14". It is true that Amtrak is much more lenient about that size than airlines are and a conductor likely won't say a word about a stroller that's a couple of inches over the limit, but if you bring a giant stroller-for-two, they may require it to be checked, or if there is no baggage check at your station, may not allow it to be brought on board at all.

    In summary, unless you're renting a car in Philly, I'd leave the car seat at home. We've had great success taking a small umbrella stroller and riding mass transit in our destination city. Amtrak is significantly easier than either a car or a plane to load children onto, and no special equipment is needed. This ease is in my experience the single greatest reason for those with infants and toddlers to take the train.
     
  3. Mar 6, 2011 #3

    amamba

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    But if she doesn't have her 6.5 month old infant in the car seat, the infant will need to be in her lap! This might be rather uncomfortable on a long train ride.

    My suggestion is to get the assistance of a red cap at Boston South Station. You can generally find them near the entrance to the Club Acela, which is near the amtrak ticket windows. The red cap will assist you with your luggage, and if you use a redcap, you will get to preboard the train and pick the best seats! You will need to tip the redcap for this service, but its a small price to pay.

    I am not sure that there will be a seat with a table that you could use, but on the NE regional there is often extra foot room in the first row or last row of seats in a car. You might have room for a stroller there that you could put the car seat into, or I don't see why you couldn't put your infant in the car seat onto an actual seat. I don't know if the conductors will allow your baby to ride in the stroller on the car, though, that might be considered dangerous? not sure.
     
  4. Mar 6, 2011 #4
    Did I mention that I wanted him to sleep in the car seat for naps, mellow time, and later for driving. I cannot hold him for 6 hours (especially with tendonitis in my wrists). I am stunned that there is no allowance for car seats at all. Did you really expect parents to hold their infants for 6 hours? Can I bring a packing strap for the seat? Leaving it unbelted is nuts. Would upgrading to 1st class get me more accommodations?
     
  5. Mar 6, 2011 #5

    jb64

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    Have you called Amtrak and asked them? Rather than depending on answers here, I would call them and ask them about protocol for infants. A six month old is very different from a toddler who could probably sit in a seat.
     
  6. Mar 7, 2011 #6

    the_traveler

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    There are no seat belts in business class either. And except for the Acela Express, there is no First Class - and no seat belts either.

    No US train has seat belts. Even buses like Greyhound do not have seat belts either.

    Also remember that this forum is not affiliated with Amtrak at all! Please call them directly to find out their suggestions for certain. We are only providing our own opinions and suggestions!
     
  7. Mar 7, 2011 #7

    oldtimer

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    I have seen car seats secured to the seat back with long bungee cords.

    :giggle: :rolleyes: :giggle:
     
  8. Mar 7, 2011 #8

    George Harris

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    I have no idea why someone thinks you will have to hold your 6 1/2 month old baby the whole way. If you have a second seat available, the baby will be OK on the seat. Just aim the kid front to back rather than side to side so he would be less likely to roll off.
     
  9. Mar 7, 2011 #9

    EB_OBS

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    IF the train is sold out AND the baby is un-ticketed, then she would indeed be holding the baby as long as there weren't any empty seats available.
     
  10. Mar 7, 2011 #10

    amamba

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    The OP said in her first post that she has tickets for two. Since she is the only adult traveling with the infant, I am going to assume that she actually bought a ticket for the infant.

    OP, there aren't too many new moms/young moms that are regular posters on this board. Of course it is insane to suggest that you put an infant on your lap for over 6 hours. Take the suggestions with a grain of salt. There are no seat belts in any class on amtrak, but I really do think you will be fine placing the car seat on a regular seat. If you are concerned, bring bungee cords or something.
     
  11. Mar 7, 2011 #11

    AlanB

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    And if you call 3 different times the odds are good that you'll get 3 different answers from them. Most agents have never set foot on an Amtrak train and aren't likely to know.
     
  12. Mar 7, 2011 #12

    AlanB

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    Infantmom,

    First, I highly recommend taking the suggestion of getting a redcap in Boston at South Station. This will help you with carrying everything and ensure that you can get your pick of seats.

    Next, you will find that at one end of each car there is a set of seats where 4 people could sit facing each other, 2 & 2. You may want to consider sitting there so that you could place your baby in the car seat opposite you, instead of next to you. This could make it easier to attend to your baby and it would have your baby essentially facing backwards. That way in any abrupt stop, something unlikely to happen anyhow, the car seat would be stopped from moving by the seat cushion.

    One drawback to this idea however is that if the train sells out, you will have company next to you & your baby.

    If you don't opt for the above, then in a regular two seater, place the car carrier so that your baby faces the seat that they're sitting in. Again, this way if the train does stop suddenly, it will be the back of the carrier that hits the seat ahead of your baby. You can also try the bungee cord idea suggested by George, just be careful that you don't strap down the table tray on the back of your baby's seat. The person sitting behind you guys may want to use that tray.

    Know that the general motion of the train isn't sufficient to bounce the carrier around. I can generally even leave my laptop safely sitting on the table tray without it being tossed off. And that's fare more unstable than a car carrier would be sitting on a cushioned seat.

    Since you have two tickets, one for you and one for your baby, you are of course entitled to two seats. Had you only brought one ticket, then if the train had sold out, you would have no choice but to hold your baby. But with two tickets, the ball is in your court. You can hold him when you want, place him in the seat next to you if you want, or put him in the carrier in the seat next to you. And you can change things around as dictated by your needs & his.

    Moving on, under no circumstances would I consider leaving the baby in the stroller, even if the crew would permit it and I think it unlikely that they will permit it. The brakes on the stroller simply aren't strong enough to keep it from moving in the case of an emergency stop.

    Beyond that, sit back, relax, and enjoy your trip! :)
     
  13. Mar 7, 2011 #13

    jb64

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    Then I would consider that an epic fail. I would assume that the phone agents have scripts of FAQ and I would think traveling with an infant has probably come up before. I would rather call them and get an "official" answer, even if it means asking to speak to a supervisor, than relying on other's best guesses, albeit well-intentioned.

    Information found on this forum is generally very helpful and many folks here are well-informed. However, as someone else pointed out, we are not Amtrak and some things cannot be answered here.
     
  14. Mar 7, 2011 #14

    DivMiler

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    (Italics mine)

    Uh, that may not be a great idea. There is a reason that babies are not supposed to be in the front passenger seat of a car -- the airbag hits the back of the baby's head/carseat violently in case of an accident.

    While I doubt the idea you gave, Alan, might yield a blow as violent as an airbag deploying, I still wouldn't do it without the addition of the bungee cords.

    Having said that, my only thought is there may be enough room between seats to just put the baby in the car seat on the floor, especially if the original poster paid for two seats.
     
  15. Mar 7, 2011 #15

    George Harris

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    ihinnk we are making this much more of a problem than it really is. People travel with babies all the time. If she just gets out there and does it, things should go fine.
     
  16. Mar 7, 2011 #16

    Ryan

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    Since Amtrak seats don't have airbags in them, and the arrangement that Alan described is exactly how their car seats are placed in the rear seats, I'd say that was the best way to go.
    Agreed. It isn't rocket science.
     
  17. Mar 8, 2011 #17

    Jenizie

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    Hi, Infantmom.

    I travelled on an Amtrak train with my daughter when she was about 6 months old, so let me recall as much as I can in case it's helpful to you.

    We certainly did bring the carseat with us, as we used it at our destination. I honestly don't remember how much we used it on the train -- some, I think, but possibly not a lot. What we had at that point was the standard infant-style carseat, with a base that buckles into the car and a carrier that can easily be taken out with the baby still in it. We certainly wouldn't have used the base at all on the train -- I think we just left it on the luggage rack. But I think we may have put the carrier either on the seat or on the floor, without too much concern about stability (we were right there anyway, and may have braced it with a hand or a foot?) or needing seatbelts. A train moves fast, yes, but the acceleration is very gradual, so it's a pretty different situation from a car. As others have said, there certainly aren't seat belts.

    We didn't even try to bring a stroller -- at that stage of our daughter's life we hardly used one. (But I know that's our weirdness -- most people I know did at that age.)

    Our trip was on a long-distance train, in a roomette, so what we did was unfold one of the two seats into its "bed" configuration, providing a larger flat surface for her to sit / crawl / lie on. I don't think she was sitting independently yet, so I think she also spent a fair bit of time sitting on our laps or just next to us in the seat. I don't remember this being uncomfortable, but then again there were two adults to switch off, and possibly more room than you'll find on a seat in a regional train? I'm not sure about that one.

    The other thing we found quite useful on the train was a soft carrier (we had an Ergo, but anything of that sort -- Baby Bjorn, etc would presumably work) -- it was comfortable enough for both her and either me or my husband to just have her hang out in there, especially when we got on and off or wanted to move around on the train, but also I think we used it a bit while just sitting down on the train? I can't remember by now -- she may have been old enough and mobile enough that it wasn't a place for her to "hang out" as much as when she was littler.

    I hope this helps -- my memory has faded somewhat after 3 years. I do remember that she loved the train ride then, and still does love trains now! Good luck with your travels.
     
  18. Mar 9, 2011 #18

    George Harris

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    Don't know why I did not think of it until it slapped me in the face, but we used a baby backpack a lot. At six months, I would think that would have considerable advantage over a stroller. If you think you will need one, carry one of those umbrella types (are they still used or have they been declared hazardous by our nanny state) that you can fold up and stick in the luggage rack.
     

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