Taxis and Car Seats in New York City

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Toddlers and taxis in NYC

April 2012

We are heading to NYC in June and am looking for things to do with a 3 year old other than the park and the natural history museum. Also we will be traveling by foot, subway and taxi. What do folks do for child taxi safety. People don't lug car seats around. What are the rules? There are lots of families in NYC, there has to be some thing easy, right? dont trust taxi drivers

You will have a wonderful time in New York! I sat down and started typing a list of ideas, but then came up with this website, which already contains them, and more. It dates back to 2004, but is still plenty up-to-date for most things.

For ongoing events, activities, places to see: (note that there are several pages here, grouped by type of venue/activity-- explore them all.

For original ideas, see the poet, Molly Peacock's essay: For specific goings-on during the time you are there:

Finally, just some of our favorites with our 3-year-old: children's theater at the New Victory Theater in midtown; taking the subway and the bus; walking down broadway--she is wildly entertained by the parade of people and the tall buildings!; the Central Park Zoo--perfect for this age group, and often a great place for kids to meet the occasional Elmo or Donald Duck impersonator who happens to wander around; South Street Seaport...

As for taxis, there is no carseat law; when she was a baby, we would buckle ourselves in and sit her on our lap, airplane style; now, she's big enough to sit in the seat and wear a seatbelt. For the record, the best drivers in Manhattan are the cab drivers.

Have a great time. pv

I asked my SIL who had two little ones in NY, and she says: There is a stroller that a lot of people use that converts to a carseat with one easy motion. We always had that one when we were living in the city. I can't think of the name of it but it's also approved for airline use so it's worth the investment. There is also a great children's museum perfect for kids that age. R.K.

Well, first, know that the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission is exempt from child safety restraint laws. There is no legal requirement to have a child safety seat in a taxi in NewYork City.

Second, for children who use strollers that are a frame and a baby seat, any cabbie will put the frame in the trunk and you strap the separate seat into the back seat, just like you do at home.

Having lived in NYC as a child, and, again, years later, as a mom, a word of warning: if you are a 'typical Californian,' you have a car and you drive most anyplace you might go. Most anyone, living in Manhattan, thinks nothing of walking five-or-six blocks to get a good ice cream cone (except, of course, if it's actually snowing), but a Californian would never walk that far! Typically, a Californian would drive such a 'long distance' as five-or-six blocks!

If you have not lived in a very urban place, both you and your three-year-old will have a far better time if you take a stroller!

Although you may think of your 'big kid' as 'too grown-up' for a stroller, most likely neither you or your child are used to walking the way city dwellers do, block-after-block, quickly, efficiently, darting across the busy streets in the middle of the block, and you will be exhausted (and crabby ?) after just a day of busy sidewalks, tourist-filled museums, packed buses, trying to figure-out which subway train to take.

It won't take long for you to delight in an air-conditioned cab that will give you a moment's quiet; that's what any New Yorker who can afford it does!

Please, don't miss the antique book shops along 'Museum Mile' !

I am from NY and have gone back twice every year since my daughter was born. She is also 3 now. When she was very little we used the infant car seat but as she got older we couldn't schlep around the convertible car seat everywhere - so I researched to find other options. I found this one... The Ride Safer Travel Vest It did the job, was pretty easy to put on and get buckled in and most of all it gave us that extra peace of mind. the smallest size.

Happy travels! NY transplanted mom

Taking Cabs in NYC with 9-month-old

Nov 2005

We have a 9 month old we will be travelling to Boston and NYC with. We will be checking his carseat, and have a car to use in Boston, but in NYC no car. We will mostly be doing subway and walking in NYC, but for getting to/from airport, we were going to do a cab, but don't know -- can you put a carseat into the cab? Anyone done that? Better alternative? Any other travel tips would be appreciated as well -- esp re: (1) should we bring pak-n-play? (2) if we get an xtra seat on the flight, should we try to bring the carseat ON the plane? (3) we're bringing bjorn, which he likes, but should we also bring a stroller? (4) should we pack babyfood, or just buy while we're there (he eats mostly jars)? Thanks! Jamie

We tried to forgo the carseat in a taxi recently and the driver would not let us ride in the car, as it is illegal and he would be busted if we were pulled over. So, I believe you have to bring it, in which case there are a couple options. If you get an extra seat on the plane, definitely use the carseat. Makes sleeping easier for you and the baby, in my experience. If you don't get an extra plane seat, you can check the carseat at the gate. The cab companies will also hold your carseat until you return from your trip, then can pick you up and bring it with them or you can go to the cab company and get it. A pack and play is great to bring, as is a stroller as well as a bjorn. The stroller is great for giving your back a break. You can buy baby food anywhere, so I would just pack enough for the plane ride with snacks, etc. Make sure to nurse or give your baby a bottle on the ascent and descent to avoid ear pain. Enjoy! fellow traveler

Yes, you can put a carseat in a cab, there's usually a way to install a car seat with a lab belt. I don't know about NY but in SF most cabs are kind of old and have a nonretractable seatbelt in the middle of the back seat that is just perfect for a car seat. If there is a retractable seatbelt you just need a little clip to keep it stable, and you should have gotten one with your carseat or you can get them pretty easily at baby stores. Practice a few times installing the carseat with a lap belt before you go.

If you have an extra seat on the plane the carseat is a mighty nice place to let the kid sleep comfortably. If you are comfortable with the bjorn I wouldn't bother with a stroller. I wouldn't pack baby food for the whole trip, just buy some when you get there.

-- I go to NYC and Paris often with my two kids. My son is 7 now and when we first went to Paris he was 17 months and we bought him his own seat and brought the car seat on the plane (perfect for napping) and I planned on taking the carseat in the cabs but what a hassle! We were often with family and if we took the carseat in the cab we would have needed to spend money on two cabs instead we squeezed everyone into one taxi with him on our laps.

You will DEFINITELY need a stroller in NYC since it is a walking town. You don't have to use a carseat in cabs by law. We usually install a carseat in a cab at the airport on the drive to my sisters in Brooklyn and then after that we put it in her car but we usually use the subway. I would bring some food with you for the baby for several days but you can buy jars of babyfood anywhere. Whole Foods is now all over NYC and Boston.

We have bought seats in airplanes for our kids after they turn 6 months old since taking off and landing is safer in a carseat than in your lap. I am usually travelling one way on my own with the two kids so I like the extra space.

Have fun! I travel to NYC and Boston (Family!) several times a year. Let me know if you have anymore questions. Patricia

We just went to NYC with our ten-month-old, and took both a stroller and his car seat with us (we checked both at the gate). When we got to JFK, we used Carmel Car & Limo Service (212/666-6666) which met us at the curb with a driver and a Lincoln town car. We put the car seat in the back and the stroller in the front passenger seat. The trip to Manhattan cost $45 plus toll and tip (we stayed in the upper West side). For the return, a driver from Carmel picked us up and took us back to the airport for the same price.

Many (but not all) subway stations have elevators, which was very helpful when the baby was in the stroller. When we had to transfer a couple times, however, we had to take the baby out and carry him and the stroller separately as there were a couple staircases without ramps (this was at the 59th Street Station specifically). Taking the Baby Bjorn and the stoller when you go out would be helpful in such situations. We took a little baby food with us, but just went shopping when we got there (we had no problem finding baby food for him, although we couldn't find his formula - Horizon - so we switched to another brand, which he liked, fortunately).

If you take a pack-n-play, you can check it or put it in the overhead bin easily. Then on the plane you can buy a seat for the baby (it's usually half price), or just get to the gate early, when they open, and ask if you can use the car seat on the plane. On the way to NYC we took a red-eye and it was pretty full, so we just checked the car seat at the gate and the baby slept most of the way there in our arms. On the way back the flight was maybe half-full, so we put the car seat between our seats without a problem. Feel free to email me if you have any questions. Lori

We have used carseats when traveling to/from airports in taxis (usually van shuttles of some sort) in a variety of locations (including San Diego, Mexico, Salt Lake City & more.) We even used a carseat when traveling within the city of Cabo San Lucas when taking cabs if it was going to be more than a mile or so. We felt pretty silly showing up at the horse stables in Cabo San Lucas with a carseat in tow (after the cab dropped us off) but the guys didn't care and let us stow it in their shed until our ride was over. For long flights, we use the carseat because our kids are used to sleeping in them and it frees our hands and laps for other things. However, consider that you can't pull down the tray table when using a carseat (at least on coach.)

I always like to see if I can rent or borrow a pack-n-play or other crib when I'm traveling, but it not we've brought that beast as well. It's just so burdensome to haul when you've got all the other baby paraphernalia. I almost always bring a small stroller because my kids are happy in it and it's less work for me (except in places that are not wheelchair/stroller friendly (i.e. Mexico.) Just think of walking around and your shoulders hurting and having no stroller for your son, but you know your limitations and the amount of walking you'll be doing.

Regarding food, I'm super picky, but if I felt secure that I could get to a good store within the first day I'd only bring enough to last until then (that includes diapers, which are also very bulky for traveling.) paula

I took my daughter to NYC for a month when she was 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 months. We took her car seat with us, but only used it once or twice. When traveling to/from the airport, it will be easy to set it up in a taxi. While cruising around town, however, chances are good that you don't want to lug the car seat everywhere you go. We primarily used the subway or our feet. We did ride in taxis every now and again with our daughter on our lap. Yes, I realize that is not safe, but we did it.

Bring a pak and play unless you actually like to sleep with your child. At that age, my daughter was WAY to active for me to sleep with...

Bring a stroller unless your baby sleeps easily in the bjorn. Not all subway stops have elevators, so be prepared to do some carrying. I found the stroller useful in helping carry our purchases and easy to negotiate around town, except in the evening at Time Square where crowds seemed to be huge. -done that

Editor: advice was also given about plane travel and equipment. See Trip to East Coast with 9-month-old

Take car seats to NYC for 11-mo-old twins?

May 2005

My partner and I are taking our 11-month-old twins to NYC for 2 weeks in June. I've read other posts about taking carseats on trips and many BPN subscribers highly recommend it.

I want my kids to be safe, but 1) the dual Britax carseats are so big and bulky (especially when I think about everything *else* we need to pack) and 2) I don't trust myself to install the seats properly and I can't imagine a taxi driver waiting patiently while we figure out all the straps and attachments.

We'll mostly use public transportation while we're there, but having the twins ride to and from JFK Airport without car seats makes me very nervous. Any suggestions? Do airport car services ever have cars (or vans) with two carseats already installed? Are there any portable safety straps that can be easily used in taxis? Thanks for any advice you might have. Kathryn

My husband and I brought a convertible car seat (Sit N Stroll - to NY and it was great!It was much easier than havinbg a stroller and a car seat and then having to lug them around everywhere or check them in at the museum. What a hassle!! Good luck! tinygirl_oak

We went with our then-three-month-old to New York City at the end of February. When we got in to JFK, we had a car service (a mini-van) where we were able to put the base of the car seat in the back seat. We then put his car seat in as we would do at home. For the return, we had a car service also where we did the same thing. We paid $45 each way from JFK to midtown Manhattan. We have a Peg Perego Atlantico travel system, if it matters. You could probably ask around and see if you could swap car seats with some friends for the duration of the trip. The system we use has a base which clips very easily into the back seat seatbelt, and it took less than a minute to install it properly. Be aware, however, that unlike BART, the NYC subway has very few elevators. We took the stroller with us but then unclipped the car seat when we went down the stairs to the station, with one of us carrying the baby in the seat and the other the stroller. Lori

We travel to NYC 4xs/year and agree with you that it seems crazy to take your Britax carseats when you will only need them for going to and from the airports in NY. We have done two things. There are three options we have employed:

1. Use a car service that provides car seats (but you are not always guaranteed this year's model);

2. rent a car from JFK (hertz and alamo have decent carseats) and drop it off immediately in the UWS and

3. we bought two Sit and Stroll (carseat/stoller contraption) that we use in limos to transport the kids to the city.

If you need specific car service info, please don't hestitate to email me and I'll look it up for you. Good luck! lvfully2

My twins turned 2 today and I often travel to NYC. You can buy lightweight, portable carseats from One Step Ahead (item #08107). They're for kids 25-40 lbs. Also, whether or not you have carseats, I suggest you speak to every taxi driver before you get in and explain that you have two babies and try to ascertain whether he'll be considerate of that. I've had lots of very kind, helpful taxi drivers. But I always check in advance. Enjoy your trip!! Pam

I've been traveling with small children a lot for 17 years...I just asked a cab driver in Baltimore as I skipped bringing my seats along what the ''law'' was THEY ARE NOT REQUIRED-most cabs don't even have rear seat belts so installing them is iffy at best.Some people love them for the plane-not a safety thing (plane crashes aren't a walk away from thing) more of a restraint thing...however they kick the beejesus out of the person in front of them as their feet are too close to the forward seat-it also renders their tray table useless-get at least a window seat and have jr sit looking out the window-pose the adult in the next seat better yet get three together(you have two?) your partner in the aisle seat next to can trade off who gets beat up, also takong the red-eye and putting them to sleep works too...good luck sydney

We were in the same spot last year, but with only 1 kid. We ended up not taking our Britax, relying exclusively on public transit in NYC, INCLUDING the rides between JFK and our friend's place in Lower Manhattan. The airport is served by the train (the LIRR, maybe? I forget) but it was really a hassle. If I had to do it again, I'd probably take our daughter's carseat *just* for taxi rides to and from the airport: keeping her corralled and happy on the train was a full time effort, so my wife was doing that while I lugged ALL our luggage - no fun at all. If we're talking cabs to and from the airport only, the taxi drivers won't mind waiting for you to pop the carseats in - they're getting a good fare (around $50-80, I'll bet)! Do be prepared for them to have the meter running while they wait, though. Also, remember that if you check the carseats, you'll only have to deal with them in and out of the airport taxi, and you can use one of the rental carts for your bags + carseats between the curb and the counter/baggage claim. So though you're taking them, you don't end up having to haul them EVERYWHERE. Have fun! Anand

When my daughter was young (maybe 9-12 months old), I traveled alone with her from SFO to JFK. I cannot imagine doing it with twins, but I wanted to address one point in your post.

When the time came for a cab to pick up my daughter, me and all of our stuff at the airport, I simply said, ''You can start the meter; I have to put in my daughter's car seat.'' I had my daughter in her stroller while I was jamming her car seat in the back seat of a cab. It probably took me a few minutes to get it just right.

Not for a second did the driver get upset. Not only was the meter running, but if he had a problem with it, there will be dozens of drivers who wil be patient. He could have sped off when he saw the car seat.

As a parent, you (and I) are allowed to spend as much time as it takes to get the car seat fitted correctly. I have no problem paying the driver to wait. If something happened, I would never forgive myself. Vincent