Before we had babies, we were BFFs with taxis--granted on some days they acted more like frenemies than compadres. But once we became moms, hailing a cab became less of a convenience and more of a puzzle while we tried to figure out logistically how it worked with a baby in tow.
Luckily, services like über family have come into play since then, but still, in a city where many of us rely on zipcars and taxis when we’re on-the-go, being able to securely install a car seat in different cars is an art we, as parents, should all master.
Here Britax Child Passenger Safety Advocacy Manager Sarah Tilton sheds some light on one of the biggest logistical challenges we face as city parents.
What specific features are there to consider when shopping for a car seat that can be used in taxis or rental vehicles?
Overall, on-the-go parents should look for car seats with a simple installation process. Britax’s ClickTight Installation System, for example, uses the vehicle seat belt to give parents a secure install in seconds, each and every time.
Additional car seat features that will simplify vehicle transition include an easy recline and built-in lock-offs to ensure a snug lap and shoulder belt installation with minimal effort. If you plan to take your child on an airplane, don’t forget to look for car seats that are certified for aircraft travel (FAA approved).
What are some tips you can give parents on installing car seats efficiently under the time crunch of a running meter?
In addition to purchasing a car seat that makes the installation process as simple as possible, parents should make sure they are extremely familiar with their seat before traveling in cabs. Parents should practice the installation process on their own vehicle (or a friend’s) several times to ensure they will feel comfortable transitioning to a stranger’s vehicle.
Always refer to your child restraint user guide or call your car seat’s manufacturer’s customer service if you have questions about installation. If you still feel unsure about your car seat installation, please have a certified technician check your installation.
Parents should also try to have a taxi pick them up in a less busy area, such as a side street. When the taxi driver doesn’t feel pressure to start the trip, you will also be more relaxed and able to focus on a safe car seat installation.
Are there accessories that you'd recommend for parents to make carrying a car seat around the city easier?
When walking around the city, I recommend using Britax’s Car Seat Travel Bag. Conveniently, it can be worn like a backpack or rolled behind you. Britax and a few other companies also offer a Car Seat Travel Cart, which can be used with children harnessed in the car seat and then wheeled for short travel distances.
Boosters seem like a good option for toddlers in the city because they're lighter, but how old does the child have to be to safely be secured in one?
Booster seats are for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing child seat. There is not a specific age when children should transition to a booster. Factors to consider when determining if your child is ready for a booster seat include:
1. Your child reached the top weight or height allowed for their forward-facing seat with a harness
2. Your child’s shoulders are above the top harness slots in their forward-facing seat
3. Your child’s ears have reached the top of their forward-facing seat
4. Your child meets the age and size requirements of the booster seat
5. Your child meets the requirements of your state laws regarding booster seat use
6. Your child’s maturity level – if your child is a wiggle worm or sleeps frequently in the vehicle, he or she may not be ready for a booster seat
Is there any safe way to hold a baby in a taxi with no car seat? What about buses?
No. Infants should always be safely secured in a car seat during car travel. You should continue to use the child seat system--convertible car seat, youth seat, or booster seat--to the upper limits of its recommended use, or until your child can fit properly in the adult seat belt.
If the only option for parents is to ride a bus, parents can keep small children tightly secured in their stroller, with the parking brake activated, or attached to them in a baby carrier, while sitting. City buses tend to be large and typically travel at a slower pace. If a crash were to take place, the results can be less severe.
How often do you travel in cabs with your baby?