How to Commute with a Baby

The best advice to get you to work on time without losing your mind.

How to Commute with a Baby

I'm a commuter mom. I travel 45 minutes every day to and from work praying for no accidents/traffic/severe weather/or changes. And I do this commute with my tiny children. Trust me, it is no easy feat. In fact, it takes some pretty serious skill to learn to commute with your baby in tow. One might even call it a superpower.

Whether you commute by train, car, bus or even just walk, here’s how to deal with your baby...and still get to work on time.

0-3 Months: Enjoy your maternity leave, but get ready. (Hopefully it lasts this long. You deserve it.) Who cares about your commute yet? You do, because soon you'll have this tiny baby for an extended period of time and you'll also be going to work -- stressful! Don't fret, instead prep! Get a few preventative items like a car seat mirror if you’re a driver, and many extra pacifiers. Try a leisurely practice run. Then try it out during commuting hours. You'll likely realize you’ll need to add plenty of extra time to your morning commute.


4-5 months: A rocky start. The beginning of your new commute may be rough. You're not alone in feeling that major loss the first time you drop off your baby. You'll look back at the empty spot in your car or stroller and do a choked-up double take that the familiar little head is not there. It’s normal.

For the beginning months of your commute, try to make adjustments with your baby so that the commute coexists with a natural sleep time. Although this may seem like a huge feat because your baby may not be '”scheduled,” you'll quickly see the benefits of waking up and feeding your baby 20 minutes earlier so he/she passes out while driving!

It’s also normal to stop while commuting to “check on” that sleeping baby because you're certain something is wrong if he/she is silent for this long. Also normal: stopping on the commute because he/she has never cried this much for this long. Remember: safety first, drivers! We know a crying baby can be distracting, but don't turn around while you're driving. Stop as many times as you need to feel comfortable. It will get easier.

6-9 months: Get ready for toys. You'll need toys for your daycare and toys for your home; you'll also need tons of toys for your commute. Good toys at this point would be anything you are comfortable with your baby having in his/her mouth. My superpower suggestions? Teething books and rings hanging from the car seat or stroller with teething toys attached. Warning: if your child gets caught in a ring, that could cause serious commuter screaming and mommy sweating. But probably no other harm.

10-12 months: Ambiance matters. Do you have particular music that you listen to or have from a music class you attend? Do you sing to your child regularly? Is your child on any more of a routine at this point? The more you can naturally reflect your child's typical ambiance, the easier your commute will be. And double down on those teething toys… your baby can now throw and kick them so plant several in her carseat to help prevent meltdowns.

13-18 months: It's lovey time. Whatever your child is lovey-ing at home NEEDS to be easily accessible on your commute. Maybe it’s a life-sized stuffed animal, a sweet blankie or just her thumb -- in which case, don’t forget to take off her glove or mitten! Always bear in mind the previous months’ lists too.

1.5-2.5 yrs: Surprise! The element of surprise will take over the time that used to be used as a commuting nap. Maybe it's a new sheet of stickers or a new stuffed animal, or a new car/train/truck, or another lovey, or a book, or a sibling. Look, baby! A new present! Just for you! The choices are endless and can be cheap and ordinary.

You’re also entering potty training stage which could require a traveling potty (oh the joys) and many, many stops along the way. Possibly to make pee pee in the traveling potty in the trunk of your car. Or next to that grown man that's making pee pee on the subway platform. But oh, commuting mom, that’s a whole nother article.

Good luck, and may you find your own commuting superpowers quickly and easily.

Image via Estella, maker of that adorable NYC Train Baby Pillow. Go buy it here!

In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

    Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

    Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

    Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

    Keep reading Show less

    100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

    From Adelia to Ziggy.

    Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

    Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

    Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.

    Keep reading Show less
    Learn + Play