Travelling by train with a baby was a daunting prospect but it was actually fairly easy – perhaps easier in some respects than travelling by car.
I’ve never driven a car, so I’m used to travelling by public transport. However, I am convinced that train travel is far preferable to long car journeys. You can relax, read a book, play a game, walk about and even go to the toilet without waiting for the next services. No contest!
Would I feel the same after taking a trip with my baby girl, Sophie?
Travelling with a baby and a partner
Our first train trip as a family was from Sheffield to Northampton, via Birmingham New Street. About 4 hours in total, including the changeover time in Birmingham. We were making the journey for my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary (respect).
Not only was it our first train journey with Sophie but also it would be her first night away from home. Double eeek!
My husband, Charlie, and I are pretty good at travelling light – though, granted, he’s better at it than I am. We managed to get everything we needed for a 2 night stay into one rucksack.
That just left Sophie’s things: clothes, nappies, muslins, bibs, toys, etc. We ended up fitting it all in a cabin bag sized suitcase – not too bad.
The biggest issue was how we were going to transport her. We had to take the car seat, as we were getting picked up from Northampton train station (my grandparents live in a village a short drive from the city).
Our car seat fits on to the pram base, but we thought it might be difficult getting the pram on and off the train. We were glad that we didn’t take it – the trains were busy and there wouldn’t have been enough space in the storage rack for the pram base as well as the car seat.
Instead, we took our baby carrier/sling, so that we had a way of taking her for a walk once we were at my grandparents’.
On the day of travel, we got a taxi to the station. Charlie carried Sophie in the car seat through the train station. This wasn’t ideal, as it’s quite heavy (especially with her in it).
Once on the train we had her on her laps for the most part, except when we tried to get her to have a nap in the car seat. ‘Tried’ being the operative word. There was just too much going on for her to sleep – people around us talking, countryside rolling by outside the window, the conductor’s announcements, etc.
Typically, she fell asleep in my arms shortly before we arrived at our destination. We just about managed to get her into her coat and into the car seat without disturbing her too much, only for the conductor’s announcement to wake her up. Grrrr.
She didn’t feed properly while we were on the train either. She’s far too nosy to concentrate on that when there’s so much going on around her – even the ceiling light at home is enough to distract her!
Those two things combined meant we had a very grouchy baby later in the day.
As it was only a 4-hour journey, we were hoping we might not need to change her nappy on the train. Wishful thinking! The inevitable happened and Charlie did the honours. He said it wasn’t easy – the changing table had straps but the movement of the train made it quite challenging.
All in all, it was a quite uneventful and easy journey – very much helped by the fact we have a fairly chilled out baby (I count my blessings). I was also pleasantly surprised that, despite the train journey and it being her first night away from home, we had a very good night’s sleep.
Travelling alone with a baby
My first train journey with Sophie, without Charlie, was a bit more challenging but also went pretty well.
A few weeks after our first journey (see above) I travelled with Sophie from Sheffield to Birmingham to see my best friend, who had just had her second baby. I was a little nervous about making the trip without Charlie.
We were just going for the day, so I didn’t have as much stuff to take – just the usual changing bag with a couple of extra nappies and a second spare outfit for her (just in case). I also had a gift bag with presents for my friend, my handbag and a bag with food and drink for the journey.
I took the bus to the station, so I was able to take Sophie in the baby carrier.
The journey was just over a couple of hours, with the short walk from Birmingham New Street station to Moor Street station, and a short train journey from there.
Sophie was happy enough on the train but, again, found it all too exciting to nap.
I found it slightly more difficult to feed her this time. I had a stranger sat next to me, who I didn’t really want to ask to ‘budge over’ to give me a bit more room. I have no issue breastfeeding in public – I just felt a bit squished.
However, I was very grateful to the people sat near me who offered to help when I needed to get my bags down from the overhead storage rack – and especially to the woman who took Sophie while I put on my coat and the baby carrier.
Once again, it was not as bad as I thought it might be. Sophie didn’t poo (good girl), so I still haven’t experienced changing a nappy on a train. Hey, if I never do, that would be no bad thing!
I’ve yet to experience a long car journey with Sophie but based on these two journeys, I’m still of the mind that train travel is the way to go.