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Tips for taking the New York City subway with a stroller

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New York subway with stroller
Me with a trusty lightweight travel stroller – a must for many subway and metro systems.

While your odds of finding an elevator at a subway station in NYC are far better than in Paris, Barcelona and the like, if you plan to use the subway system much during your family’s vacation you will need to be prepared to deal with stairs on many occasions.

Should you ditch the stroller altogether? If you’ll be visiting New York City with a child under 5 years old, I’d generally say, “Absolutely not!” While you can do a lot of sightseeing with your baby strapped to you, or while letting your toddler hoof it, truth is that hours on end of walking and gawking with an extra 20+ lbs on your person can wreak havoc on your back, and there are simply too many crowded and high-traffic situations as you make way through the city to have a toddler on the loose.

Not to mention, pushing a stroller through Central Park, or the Met, as your toddler snoozes is divine. 😉

So here are some tips to help you make way through the New York subway system with your child – and your stroller.

  1. Bring a good folding travel stroller, preferably one with a shoulder strap that will let you sling it over your shoulder and keep both hands free for holding your child, your child’s hand, and/or running tickets through the turnstiles (see my top recommended travel strollers here).
  2. If you’d prefer to have your stroller meet you in New York City, you can always rent a great lightweight folding stroller from one of the New York baby gear rental agencies (find one in the online directory here).
  3. Bring a small-packing baby carrier or sling you can use during crowded times on the subway to keep your child close to you (front is often better than on your back here), but one that will easily fit under your stroller or in your day pack when not needed.
  4. If your child is snoozing in the stroller or your otherwise don’t want to take him out of it during slower times on the subway, let your partner or a friendly stranger who volunteers (of which you’ll find a surprising number of in downtown New York) help you carry the stroller with your child in it.
  5. If your child is still in the stroller, or if the stroller you are using is simply to bulky to fit through the turnstile of a given subway station, follow these steps to get past the turnstiles to your platform without folding your stroller:
  • At agented stations, press the call button and wave to the attendant who will watch you swipe your card (a.k.a. ticket) at the nearest turnstile, then “buzz you through” allowing you to open the door at the end of the turnstiles which is used for wheelchairs and emergencies.
  • If you are coming OUT of a station where there is no attendant, you may just have to push the door open yourself, which will sound an alarm that pretty much alerts everyone to watch for fare jumpers going in. As long as you’re exiting and with a stroller, you shouldn’t have a problem, and the alarm will stop sounding once the gate is closed again.
  • If you find yourself entering a station with no attendant, and you can’t get through the turnstile with your stroller and child, you may just be stuck until somebody comes out through the gate and lets you through with your stroller. One more reason to bring that trusty travel stroller with the shoulder strap instead!

Fare info: On the New York City subway and local buses (not express), children up to 44” tall ride free. Single ride tickets are $2.50 for adults, half-price for kids 5 years to 11 years.You may save by buying an unlimited 7-day MetroCard for $29.

Accessible stations: Click here to see the list of NYC stations with elevator access.

Related posts and pages:

Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli

Author of the award-winning Travels with Baby and Take-Along Travels with Baby  travelswithbaby.com   facebook   twitter   about the author

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