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  1. #1
    Senior Member crazy_lazy_bear's Avatar
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    Car Free witha Newborn?

    Hello All,

    I was just wondering what advice you might have about living car free with a newborn. We have a car now, but my wife (due in March) uses it to get to work and back. Given that we have access to reasonable public transportation (buses, no subway), we've been talking about ditching the car altogether. I commute by bicycle and most everything we need (store, pharmacy, even a mall) is within 10 blocks. My main concern is what to do if the baby gets sick during hours that the buses aren't running. (The hospital is not within walking distance.) Do any of you (or have you in the past) live(d) car free with a newborn? Thanks for your help.
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  2. #2
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    I'm car-lite. My wife has a car she needs for work (company car). I've never been big into driving everywhere. When the first kid was going to arrive, I wanted to remain as car independent as possible.

    My advice to you would be not to make any drastic changes until after the kid arrives, and has been in your life for a little while. The reason I say this is you don't know how you or your wife are going to react with the inevitable stresses that come with a new kid, and not having access to car could make things a bit harder (psychologically). I'd say wait 2 or 3 months, and then decide if you still want to lose the car.

    That said, it is easily doable in the situation you describe.

    Taxi's are good for medical trips, and 10 blocks is a nice distance walk to get baby to sleep. I can't give any advice on transporting an infant with a bike, never done it. Some will say that you can inflict all kinds of injuries on your kid by doing this (shaken baby syndrome). Others will point out that there are thousands of people all over the world that cart babies about on bikes without the little ones suffering any problems at all. (Denmark doesn't seem to have a bad problem with detached retinas, for instance). We didn't do it mainly because my wife wasn't comfortable with the idea, and I was not about to argue with her about it. Instead, I walked where I could, and bused / trained / taxi'ed when I couldn't. Not once when I was out with baby did I wish I had the car.

  3. #3
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    Hello- While I wasn't car lite when I had my child I did know quite a few people who were at the time (moved since). My son is now 20 months old so the memories are still pretty fresh as to what it's like....I say this because I hear people often give advice on baby related issues and they seem off key- and then they say it's been 20 years or something since they had an infant- people forget just how intense it can be is my point.

    Anyway, I would say unless there is a specific reason why going car free now is necessary over waiting a few months- then I would wait. Nothing can prepare you for how difficult even the easiest baby is, throw in a bout of sickness or say breastfeeding issues which can be intense in the first few weeks/months and you might just set yourselves up for undue stress. You may not even need the car but having it there may relieve some of the what-ifs that will be plaguing your brain. Those first few months are the most precious thing in life and nothing can prepare you for how wonderful they are but they are a ton of work and the sleeplessness can start to mess with your head after a bit lol.

    Now, I have known as I said car free mums but they were very, very dedicated and even then they didn't take their infant out for a few months- until around 4 months if I remember right in a car seat- in a bike trailer. They also made sure they had use of a vehicle if needed (friends like me). I think it can be done and you could be just fine and it could be no issue at all depending on baby and how easy they are...but I personally- even with a my son who was essentially a perfect sleeper from the get go , would never consider a car-less infancy, nor would I prepare for the perfect baby lol. Put it this way- yes people have done it forever but stuff does happen and things do go wrong, better to increase your odds for a little less stress and a little more safety for the first bit until you get the hang of it. It is after all the most challenging and lovely experience EVER and I hope you have a blast.

    p.s. something you didn't mention that you might consider too is even before baby gets here it can get crazy. Sometimes you end up making numerous trips to the hospital right before baby and public transport will be very uncomfortable for a mum whose ready to have a baby. I think we went back and forth across town no less than 10 times in the last week to the hospital/midwives clinic. what you have to remember also is even a mum who is strong and not very emotional will get emotional when she is pre labor or post labor and lacking sleep or in severe pain- I would possibly have slapped someone if they suggested i get on a bus when i was at that stage lol. I personally got very embarrassed about not being able to sit easily and all the other nuances that a pregnant mum has to deal with.

    I hope thats not too much info, but mostly have a great time...babies are so wonderful!
    Last edited by Youaintgotjack; 01-24-12 at 08:23 AM. Reason: numerous typos:)

  4. #4
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazy_lazy_bear View Post
    Hello All,

    (due in March)

    CONGRATULATIONS!

    I agree that, unless there's a financial problem, you can wait a few months before you ditch your car. But I can tell you have a good attitude, and that's the main thing you need when you go carfree!


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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    CONGRATULATIONS!
    But I can tell you have a good attitude, and that's the main thing you need when you go carfree!
    The main thing when you have a baby too haha! I hear people complain constantly about the work involved, but its a wonderful work and awesome, take that from a mum who just changed a leaky poopy diaper haha still wonderful!

  6. #6
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Youaintgotjack View Post
    The main thing when you have a baby too haha! I hear people complain constantly about the work involved, but its a wonderful work and awesome, take that from a mum who just changed a leaky poopy diaper haha still wonderful!
    Except as an old fart, I have to say that grandkids are even better.

    My grandson is 12 now. Last summer for the first time he could truly keep up with me on the bike.


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  7. #7
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    We have an 11 month old and have been car free for 3 or so years (ever since we moved to Brookline, MA). Emergency medical trips in the middle of the night (isn't that always when they happen) are easily addressed by a cab (only happened once while the wife was pregnant and not since), but that's pretty easy as cabs are often close by where we live and we're only a mile or two from hospitals. It helps for us that Boston has a pretty extensive public transit system that allows us to go most places. We found that getting a heavy duty jogging stroller that can take an infant car seat (we went with the Bob Revolution) is good for being car free. The big aggressive tires make taking curbs and getting on and off the T easier (also they just roll easier over cracks in the sidewalk and through long walks to the store), though sometimes other passengers on the public transit have given us dirty looks because our stroller takes up a fair bit of room. I'm currently looking for an appropriate trailer system as now that she's turning one it finally seems that she's old enough to go riding behind me (according to manufacturer recommendations). I do know that some bike trailer systems (like the Chariot Cougar for instance) have infant slings that allow you to take kids a lot younger than that, but most recommendations say that the kid should be at least a year old and have enough neck strength to support her head while wearing a helmet. A zipcar membership is also nice as we usually once every month or two take a big trip to the store to stock up on nonperishables and other household goods and that can overwhelm our little folding cart that we take with us on most other grocery runs.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


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    We were car free with a baby twice, 8 years ago and 11 years ago. Cabs are handy for middle of the night trips to the ER, even on Christmas Eve. When they were babies we walked and bused, rather than biking. Though we had a stroller, we tended to use a sling or other baby carrier on the bus. For the bus, a stroller that you can fold easily while holding the baby is a good idea because they can require you to fold it. As annoying as that is, strollers do pose a hazard to other riders and even to the child in the case of an abrupt stop.

    I'm not a worrier by nature and had already been car free years before we embarked on parenthood, so it was pretty easy to just make plans with no car in mind and go about my business. If you or your wife feel freaked out about not having a car, then hang on to it.

  9. #9
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    oh yeah, definitely investigate various carriers. We did the baby bjorn thing for a while, but it has no lumbar strap so it can get hard on your back as the baby gets heavier. At first it was easier than the Moby wrap, but you can wrap the Moby to give you more lumbar support and it ends up being more versatile than a bjorn. We just got a backpack thing for the baby at a garage sale for $10 and I find that to be so much more comfortable for taking her on longer walks, but it makes it hard to sit down on the bus with her behind me. That one is nice with a waist strap and a sternum strap and it stands on its own so you can put the baby in and then put it on if you're by yourself. I really like taking her in the backpack as it really distributes the weight. She puts up with it ok, but gets bored on longer walks.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  10. #10
    Senior Member Suburban's Avatar
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    10 blocks? Kissimee Florida size blocks or New York size blocks? You could probably pull that off walking, busing and taxi-ing. Keep you cell phone charged. Is there a car share program nearby or reasonable car rental rates or someone who would lend you their car nearby for back up? Leading up to delivery and the first 6 weeks post-partum, you'll likely want a car or spend a lot in taxi fare. But I could imagine this might work. My sister had a baby 13 days ago and she isn't biking to check-ups. She doesn't particularly enjoy sitting right now, let alone on a bike seat. I've had 3 and my youngest is 3 years old and I distinctly recall enough to know I wouldn't have ridden on any bikes for a couple of months but I wasn't willing to hang out at home all the time.

    I'd have a back up plan for a vehicle, but this might work.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Suburban's Avatar
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    I second comments on skipping the bjorn. We were given a bjorn that we used with our first. She didn't much care for it. Wraps are so much more versatile. I've used wraps from 24 hours old in a nursing position to 3 years old on my back at the zoo. No back strain and happy baby. Well worth taking the time to learn how to use.

  12. #12
    Senior Member crazy_lazy_bear's Avatar
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    This is the OP with an update. First, I want to thank everyone for your positive helpful comments. You've given me a better perspective on going car-free with a newborn. By way of a brief background, I had been thinking about commuting by bicycle since March, 2010. I finally decided to try it during car-free week this past September. Since doing so, I noticed that my purchasing decisions have become hyper-local. For example, instead of driving across town to get my hair cut at the salon I've been going to for years, I began walking to the one around the corner. I sometimes walk to the store even when the car is available. For me, I have no problem going without a car. It would be more difficult for my wife. Plus, I have no experience with babies at all. That's basically where my anxiety lies (even with a car). The reason for my post was that the check engine light was on and the car had to be inspected this month. I had no idea what the repair bill would be. I thought, "Whatever money I put into the car could be better spent on the baby." As it turned out, I found a local garage that gave me a reasonable quote on a tune-up. That corrected the check engine light. The car passed inspection except for the emissions. They told me that because I just had a tune-up, they can't get a good read on the emissions. I just have to drive the car for a week or so and then redo the emissions test.
    I love your practical suggestions on carriers and slings. I had read that you should wait until the baby can support his own head before putting him in a carrier. That's one of the things I'm looking forward to: bringing the baby out with me on the bicycle. I already have a carrier picked out: the Schwinn Joyride. I'll probably revisit carriers again in a year to see if anything new is available.
    So, for now, everything looks good. Thank you all for your help. Just 5 weeks to go. Yikes!
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Suburban's Avatar
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    Good luck Crazy-Lazy-Bear!

  14. #14
    Senior Member billyb0b115's Avatar
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    My question to those that live car free, how do you deal with the bipolar weather? How will you cope if there's hardcore rain? I know there's rain jackets and all but will that keep you from getting sick and coming to work smelling like outside?

  15. #15
    Senior Member Suburban's Avatar
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    This is the first winter that I've walked my 2 older kids to school and school bus stop (2 different schools) every day (changed half day kindergarten time so we could walk it). At 3 year old speed everything takes 3x longer. (stopping to poke hedges, splash in puddles, intrude on neighbours property, check out snow, talk about dog in window). I've figured out between 4 walks a day, we spend at least 2 hours a day outside. We dress appropriately and we haven't had a problem. Actually, usually by this time of winter I've been sick a few times. I'm probably cursing myself here, but I haven't had been sick yet. I enjoy watching the kids reactions to the change of seasons. It doesn't matter how many times they see rain or snow, they love it. They like the sun coming out. They're interested in all of the squirrels and chipmunks and birds that they see. And what is wrong with smelling like the outdoors?

  16. #16
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suburban View Post
    This is the first winter that I've walked my 2 older kids to school and school bus stop (2 different schools) every day (changed half day kindergarten time so we could walk it). At 3 year old speed everything takes 3x longer. (stopping to poke hedges, splash in puddles, intrude on neighbours property, check out snow, talk about dog in window). I've figured out between 4 walks a day, we spend at least 2 hours a day outside. We dress appropriately and we haven't had a problem. Actually, usually by this time of winter I've been sick a few times. I'm probably cursing myself here, but I haven't had been sick yet. I enjoy watching the kids reactions to the change of seasons. It doesn't matter how many times they see rain or snow, they love it. They like the sun coming out. They're interested in all of the squirrels and chipmunks and birds that they see. And what is wrong with smelling like the outdoors?
    I know--often we learn more from the kids than they learn from us. My grandson dragged me along on a walk the other day when it was actually quite cold and windy. Even at 12 years old, he has a different agenda on a walk. He stops to pet every dog and have a lengthy conversation with every homeless person. He makes me chuck huge blocks of ice off the bridge and into the river. He tests the ice at the river edge and never whines if he gets his feet wet. He yells at the quacking ducks and tells them to stop laughing at us. He begs for ice cream when it's 20 degrees out. It's a lot of fun, even if we both come home smelling like outside!


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  17. #17
    My legs hurt
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    I'm off the bike for at least a week thanks to a flare-up of my ITBS - like symptoms. I've been walking everywhere with the kids, and yes it takes forever to get anywhere, but what a trip! I've now resolved to leave the bike at home from time to time and walk just for sake of walking. Just like a ditching the car for a bike lets you see more of the world, ditching the bike for your feet...

    ...I feel silly for it taking a 4 year old to remind me of that.

  18. #18
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bendembroski View Post
    I'm off the bike for at least a week thanks to a flare-up of my ITBS - like symptoms. I've been walking everywhere with the kids, and yes it takes forever to get anywhere, but what a trip! I've now resolved to leave the bike at home from time to time and walk just for sake of walking. Just like a ditching the car for a bike lets you see more of the world, ditching the bike for your feet...

    ...I feel silly for it taking a 4 year old to remind me of that.
    That is so right! I've spent half my adult life trying to figure out what's meant by the saying, "The journey is greater than the arrival." Now I found out it's something that almsot evey 4 year old knows. I'D like to write a book with the title "All I Ever Really Needed To Know I FORGOT In Kindergarten "


    "Think Outside the Cage"

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    Hi there,
    I have the same issue about carrying my newborn. Iīve been searching for same safe baby carrier, not the back attached ones, because I think that they are dangerous. Donīt you know any other solution? I īve only found some front attached carriers here www.dandybicycles.com. Do you have any experience with this? Or do you recognize the brand? Iīve never heard about them.

    It looks like this.

    IMG_7502.jpg

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