If you usually run errands in your own vehicle or rely on a bus or subway to get around, you might not know what to expect during a taxi ride with your small children. When you ride in a taxi cab, many of the same safety rules that you follow in other vehicles typically apply, but there might be some exceptions. From car seat use to snacking on the road, here are four helpful answers to questions you might have about using taxi service with a toddler or baby.
Does My Child Need a Car Seat During the Drive?
Car seats are not mandatory for taxi passengers in every state. However, some states, such as California, still require them for infants and toddlers who weigh less than 60 pounds. Does that mean you need to bring toddler and infant car seats with you? Not necessarily, as some cab companies offer passenger vans or SUVs with built-in car seats for kids. When you reserve a ride, let the company know if your kids still use car seats so that they can pick you up in a family-friendly vehicle, if possible.
If car seats are not mandatory in your city, you might still want to bring some with you for your children. Properly buckling an infant into a car seat decreases the infant's risk of fatal injuries by 71% if an accident occurs, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also reports the chance of survival is higher than 50% for toddlers between the ages of 1 and 4 who are buckled into child safety seats.
Is it Okay to Breastfeed in the Taxi?
If your little one gets hungry when you're on the road, it might be tempting to breastfeed in the taxi. However, most attorneys on Avvo.com agree that it is illegal to breastfeed a child while a vehicle is moving because breastfeeding would probably require the removal of a mom's and a baby's seatbelts. It is okay to breastfeed a child in a parked vehicle, so feel free to ask the driver to pull over so that you can nurse. Just remember that the meter may continue ticking while you nurse your little one, and your driver may have other passengers to pick up at a specific time, which could cut your breastfeeding session short.
Pumping in a taxi may be another option if you are buckled in safely and can find a way to connect the pump. You can then transfer the breast milk into a bottle if your child is willing to drink from one.
Can I Bring a Stroller?
Your taxi driver will probably let you bring a stroller as long as it folds into a compact piece that fits in the trunk of the vehicle. You can also bring slings, wraps, wheelchairs, walkers, and other items that help you and your children get around town. Some taxis even have space for bicycles or scooters, but check with the cab company first to make sure.
Are Food and Beverages Allowed in the Vehicle?
The cab company sets its own rules about eating and drinking in its taxi cabs. If the driver says it's okay for you to bring food and beverages into the vehicle, opt for easy-to-eat, grease-free options that will not make a mess in the vehicle. Avoid snacks that create a large amount of crumbs, such as flaky crackers. Keep the comfort of other passengers in mind before bringing a snack with a pungent odor that may linger long after you exit the vehicle.
Here are some good snack ideas for toddlers who are riding in a cab that allows food and drinks:
- Apple slices
- Carrot sticks
- Bottled water
- Light-colored juice, such as apple juice or lemonade, inside of a lidded cup or bottle
Make sure not to leave any wrappers or empty bottles behind when you exit the vehicle. The taxi cab may come equipped with a small trash can, but just in case it doesn't, you should expect to throw your garbage away in a can outside of the vehicle.
Laws vary by region, and different drivers have their own unique rules for passengers, so check with a taxi service, such as White Top Cab Company, before you leave your car seat at home or whip out a juice box and crackers when you're on the road. A taxi service can also answer any questions that were not listed above, regardless of whether your questions or concerns pertain to traveling with small children.