Train Travel With a Baby or Infant on Amtrak
Why Take a Long Rail Trip With an Infant
If you have a new baby, chances are the last thing on your mind is travel. Babies are demanding, and traveling with an infant seems to limit your options for satisfying your baby's needs while trying to enjoy yourself. Traveling by rail with a baby doesn't need to be stressful, however.
On a long trip you and your baby will have a great chance to spend some quality time together and bond. Rail travel with an infant gives your baby long, drawn out time to spend exclusively with you, with no distractions in the way. While you may be worried about taking care of yourself and your child on a long trip, chances are your baby will have the time of their life.
With the right planning, attitude, and foresight train travel with a baby can be a great way to get to your destination without the stress and trouble of other forms of transportation. Read on for some great tips on how to travel well with a baby on a train.
Babies of all ages can have fun on the train.
Planning for a Train Trip With an Infant
Here are several things you can do to make traveling by rail with your infant stress free and fun.
Pack Everything You Need For Your Baby on a Train
Trains do not generally have the tight carryon and luggage policy that you will find with busses and planes. For instance, Amtrak will not count your stroller, carseat, or diaper bag against your carry on luggage. Make sure to pack everything you think you may need for your infant's daily care and possible problems. That includes supplies for food, diaper changes, toys, clothing for different temperatures, blankets, and cold/sickness supplies. You never know when you might be delayed or have problems, so packing a little bit of extra won't hurt.
It is impossible to determine in advance how your baby will respond to the dry air, altitude changes, and motion of a train trip. Don't let yourself worry if your child's feeding and sleeping schedule change a little bit, or if solid food suddenly seems less interesting than nursing or a bottle. When I took a three day Amtrak trip with my infant, she chose to go almost the entire time without solid food, possibly from the dry air. She upped her nursing schedule accordingly, enjoyed the trip immensely, and no harm was done. Your baby knows what they need, and will ask for it whether it fits their regular routine or not. When you are caring for your infant on a train, let them call the shots.
Buy Two Seats for Longer Trips
Like many other forms of transportation, Amtrak allows parents to carry children under two in their lap for train rides and buy only one seat. It is perfectly alright to go coach for a long train trip with your baby if you can't afford a sleeper car, but don't expect to carry the child in your lap the entire time. Buy your infant a child seat. You never know when a train is going to fill up, and having that seat guarantees you a space to put your infant's car seat, let your infant play, and keep that giant pile of baby stuff within reach without having to get up while wrestling the baby repeatedly.
Don't Spend the Entire Time in Your Chair
Babies get bored easily when they are looking at the same space for hours on end. One of the benefits to taking the train is getting the chance to get up, stretch your legs, and look around. Take your baby into the lounge and let them look out the giant windows. Explore the train with your infant and take them for small walks. Many babies will be fascinated by different places within the train, and taking them out to explore is a great way to keep them happy and calm.
Ask for a Front Row Seat on Amtrak for your Baby
If you are riding coach, the seats in the very front of the coach have enough space for you to safely put your baby's carseat on the floor. Most of the other seats are too small to safely accommodate a carseat without a lot of fiddling with stacking your bags. Ask the conductor to seat you and your baby in a front row seat, especially if the two of you are riding alone. This will give you a safe space to put babies down when they are trying to play or sleep. Be careful not to put the carseat close enough to the heating vent that your baby can reach out and touch the heater, which gets kind of hot. I wanted my baby in that corner, so I covered the heater with a jacket so she wouldn't burn herself and checked it frequently to make sure I wasn't making the jacket too hot or creating a fire hazard. While you can never leave your baby alone on the train, a safe place to put the baby down without constant watching may be able to give you a break for reading, listening to music, or having a snack.