I first took my daughter on the tube to meet a work colleague who had given birth a month before me. My daughter was about 6 weeks old and I felt quite brave by this point! However, I was the first from my NCT group to try so didn’t have a wealth of experience to fall back on!
Armed with a strong coffee inside me (I couldn’t carry the coffee as well!), I arrived at my local tube station. I had already researched stairs, lifts, escalators, etc and this is really important. Although people are generally quite helpful, if you’re travelling in the middle of the day and find yourself at a set of stairs that you can’t manage, it can be quite overwhelming.
Our local tube station is very friendly. I strolled up to the barrier and the guard opened it straight away for me. Sometimes in the larger stations it can be a bit tricky to catch someone’s attention or even find the large gate!
I then braced myself for the escalator! I’m fortunate in that I can extend the handles on our pram which I found very helpful when I was going down. The biggest thing however, was to put the brake on which I know other mummies have found a bit tricky, depending on their prams. The journey down wasn’t too bad – a little wobbly perhaps – we arrived on the platform.
I let the first tube pass as I wanted to make sure I was in the best place. The more modern underground lines (Jubilee Line) have spaces for prams, but the older ones (Central Line) don’t and this means you have to either stand next to the pram or sit with the screen between you and the pram.
For my very first journey, I took my daughter out and put her on my knee. I had taken my Baby Bjorn as well, but still found that people wanted to touch her and cover her with germs and I found this really hard. On the way back, I left her in the pram and covered her with a muslin so that no-one could see, touch or sneeze on her! I think because of the monotonous sound of the tube, my daughter was soon fast asleep, so I spent most of the journey trying not to join her!
When I got to the other end, I left the tube forwards and saw my daughter sliding towards the end of the bassinet! I have since learnt that it’s much easier to turn around and exit backwards, then your baby isn’t thrown all over the place. I was also very lucky that there was a lift, but it was tucked away in a dark corner and quite hard to find! The Jubilee Line (south of Westminster) is absolutely fantastic. They have lifts at every station, making it really easy to get out. Oxford Street on the other hand was not so easy. Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road and Marble Arch all have a lot of stairs and because they’re busy, people get very cross with you. Bond Street is a bit better with about 8 steps at platform level, then escalators.
I’m now a seasoned tube traveller with the pram and I think that ensuring that you plan what time you are going to travel and which stations you are travelling via, makes the whole process a lot easier!
You can download a step free guide to The London Underground from www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/step-free-tube-guide-map.pdf but bear in mind that this doesn’t include escalators, which I found quite confusing as my local station is step free if you use the escalator! Good luck!