I am a first generation Canadian. With a Glaswegian mum and Mancunian dad, growing up in Canada always meant trips “home” to the UK. But London is one of those places that is largely unexplored for me. Outside of a few brief visits when I was a child, and a glorious couple of days there in my twenties, London remains, for me, one of those places I just HAVE to go back to – if only to show my royalty-obsessed daughter Buckingham Palace.
I am fortunate in that when we do get over for a visit, I won’t have to navigate tube stations with a stroller, nor juggle a car seat in the back of a black cab. But I am fascinated with the idea of going back in time to seeing the real “Big Smoke” with a cooing baby instead of rambunctious kids.
London With Baby…
To start, even some of London’s luxury hotels are very family friendly. Besides offering specials for families during British school holidays, babies and infants (0-2 years) stay free of charge at the luxury boutique Grange Hotels, and high chairs and cots are available on request. Grange has hotels at Covent Garden, as well as within walking distance from most popular attractions, tube stations, and other transport links.
Most advice for getting around on the tube with a baby suggests avoiding rush hour if at all possible, especially with a buggy or stroller. I do recall those escalators being very narrow and super steep, so this may be one instance where a carrier is strongly recommended – or perhaps just fold up your umbrella stroller while riding the tube. Most tube stations are now fully-accessible, so if those in a wheelchair can manage, you certainly could in a stroller, but there are also a number of completely step-free tube stations to more easily glide on and off.
But perhaps even trickier is the idea of a black cab with or without a car seat. Legally in most cities, children do not need to be restrained in a car seat while riding in the back of a taxi. But this did not sit right with me when mine were tiny, we always traveled with our car seats and continue to bring along their boosters. You can certainly install your car seat into most taxis and these days most modern black cabs have a central arm rest that converts to a booster seat that can be used for older children (in the 22-36kg/48-79lbs weight range). Mini cabs might be the way to go, as many cab companies can provide a child seat if you ask for one.
London is such a magical city, and I love just thinking of strolling the marvelous (and many!) parks and museums with a little one content to be strolled or carried. But I have no doubt that London with my kids will be amazing, just probably a little louder and busier 😉
Many thanks to Grange Hotels for supporting this article.
When we lived n London we had no problem with strollers, you sort of pivot the back wheel on the escalator step and tip them back. I didn’t like doing it unless there were 2 parents, one in front, one behind, though. Some stations only have steps, particularly overground stations, even if you’re on your own, some lovely person will always help you carry baby plus stroller. I’ve never used a car seat in a cab, but I think I only used a cab once in the 8 years we were in London. We did travel with car seats though, to the US and Australia, and still do, my kids are 8 and 6 and we still take car seats when we are going to be hiring cars at the other end. They don’t count as part of your baggage allowance, which is great. To be honest, central London is really compact, it’s usually easier and quicker to walk if your kids are still small enough to be pushed or carried.
I live in London and suggest riding the buses. It’s easy to get on and off with a stroller and you get to see e everything! The London Busmapper iPhone app tells you times and routes. You often have to change less than the Tube as well.
So it IS legal to ride without a carseat in London in a cab?
We will only be there for 24-48 hours for a layover.
Not sure we would need one but I want to triple check.
It’s legal to ride in the back of a cab without a car seat in most places, as crazy as that may seem!
Most advice for getting around on the tube with a baby suggests avoiding rush hour if at all possible, especially with a buggy or stroller.
We will be travelling to London in April 2015 with baby & would like to visit Stonehenge & Baths. What would be the best way to get there? Bus? So babies need a carseat on those big tour/group buses?
Babies don’t need car seats on large coach buses, although certainly they would be safer in one if the bus has seat belts (not all of them do.)