Leaving hospital when I don't own a car - the car seat law

(60 Posts)

I've been hammered by MWs and in the antenatal classes that I NEED to leave hospital after birth with my baby in a car seat. However, I don't own a car and I don't want to buy a car seat!

I keep thinking that it is not feasible that everybody in London has a car or pays for cabs to leave the hospital. So, it sounds a bit ludicrous to demand a car seat from every single new parent (seriously, I'm sure some people go home by public transport?).

It's a 0.9-mile drive from the hospital to my house that will take 4 minutes (according to Google maps), and although I'd be happy to hire a cab with a car seat, I've heard that usually they turn up with seats inadequate for newborns.

I'm trying to find out what exactly is written in the law, but all I could find was this: http://www.childcarseats.org.uk/law/index.htm#under3

"Exceptions to the rules

In limited circumstances, children can travel without the correct child restraint.

1) In a licensed taxi or licensed private hire vehicle. If the correct child restraint is not available then, in the rear seat only, children under 3 may travel unrestrained. Children aged 3 years and over must use an adult seat belt."

Does anyone know where I can get the complete text of the law? It appears to me that in this case the law allows me to take my baby in the carrycot in a taxi?

BTW, I'm still not sure what to do, and I definitely don't want to travel with him on my lap (I'm not doing anything risky, no need to worry!). I really don't want to buy a seat as I rarely use cars and my flat is tiny! If this whole things gets too annoying I might end up walking him the 0.7 miles home! (not that I want to do that...)

BTW(2), I'm having the baby at the Royal Free (London NW3), so advice from anyone with a similar experience or who knows a taxi company with decent car seats in the area will be most welcome!

littleducks Fri 19-Mar-10 13:34:41

Do you have a pram/pushchair with a harness?
You can strap pushchair into black cabs

Cazzr Fri 19-Mar-10 13:34:54

Do you know anyone who has one you could borrow?
You could give it back after you've used it then if you really don't want to buy one..

There was a thread about this a little while ago for a woman who planned to walk home, i know you'd rather not do that
OIt seems some hospitals are a bit over zealous!
However, I have to admit, although it's legal I wouldn't trust a taxi car seat with my newborn
Could your DH/DP walk the baby home, and you get a taxi if you need to?

haroldandmaude Fri 19-Mar-10 13:36:57

Yes babies/children can legally travel in taxis without a carseat.

Can you borrow a carseat from someone?

When DD was born we didn't have a car and got a taxi home from hospital (after emergency caesarian so wasn't up to public transport). We borrowed a carseat off my sister.

MumNWLondon Fri 19-Mar-10 13:42:27

Legally you don't need a car seat in a licensed taxi. However I wouldn't my newborn travel unrestrained as I don't think its safe either in lap or in an unrestrained carrycot. Most taxi companies will have car seats suitable from 9 months+ but not for babies.

If you aren't going to buy one your options appear to be:

a) Borrow one.

b) Call round some local taxi firms to see if any have rear facing car seats as sometimes the drivers have as they have from their own children. I live in the area and its even hit and miss asking for a taxi with car seats for toddlers - you'd want to have a firm booking with a particular driver.

c) You are not going to want to walk that far right after giving birth but someone else could push the pram back to yours whilst you get a cab.

BlauerEngel Fri 19-Mar-10 13:44:03

We didn't have a car when DD1 was born, but I never regretted buying a car seat. It came in useful, for instance, when I was in the shower - put baby in seat strapped in with a few toys and take into bathroom. We didn't have a rocker at home (what are those bouncy chair things called?) so the car seat did instead. It was also very useful when we went by taxi/travelled with friends, or hired a car. We used it for both children, lent it out to friends, and then sold it for a few quid afterwards. All in all it was a great investment.

MumNWLondon Fri 19-Mar-10 13:45:32

you can strap buggy into black cab - as they are all equipped for strapping in wheelchair but it isn't safe for a newborn - it would offer similar protection to strapping them into a toddler carseat. Buggies are not designed with car saftey in mind.

norksinmywaistband Fri 19-Mar-10 13:48:16

Outside of London,
but at our local hospital, you are not allowed to walk or take public transport home due risk of PPH.

Taxi or car only, However they do loan out carseats at the maternity unit for people that do not drive.

I would recommend investigating this option or borrowing one, I'm sure there will be a MNetter near you who has one not currently in use

MumNWLondon Fri 19-Mar-10 13:48:35

other option - ask a friend with newborn car seat to pick you up?

going Fri 19-Mar-10 13:49:57

I wouldn't put a baby into a carrycot to travel in a car even if it has restraints.

I would also buy or borrow one. I didn't have a car when my first was born but bought a careast and it has been used for all three of mine. You may need it for emergency dr trips.

I lived opposite a hospital when I had DD1 and DD2, when they left SCBU, and I turned up with a buggy, the nurses were shock that I didn't have a carseat and was going to walk them home, but I thought it was silly to drive them home when you could see my house from the hospital. They made sure that DD1 and Dd2 were bundled up well though

MobileNumberPortability Fri 19-Mar-10 14:03:25

I have worked for 3 families in London where on discharge the parents walked home with the baby in the pram.

Thanks for the suggestions, I'm buying a Stokke pushchair, so I think the carrycot has a harness (and seems quite solid to be taken in a cab, detached from the chassis - that was my first idea, but it seems from your comments that it's not as safe as I imagined...).

I like the idea of asking DH to walk the baby home, then. It seems easier (and much faster) than trying to locate the right driver who will have the right car seat to take my baby.

Borrowing a seat would be good, but none of my friends have babies yet... (so it rules out the option of asking a friend to pick us up)

Buying a car seat to use as a substitute for the bouncer sounds reasonable, though (as I'm not buying the bouncer). However, wouldn't it be a bit of an overlap with the pram carrycot (which will take a lot of space already)?

Or would it be good to have a place to lay the baby down (the carrycot) and another for him to be in a different position (the car seat)? (first time mom here, still trying to get to grips with all the baby gear available and still confused!)

GothKat, my previous house was so close to the hospital that I came back home walking after a surgery! (a minor one, of course!) It was much simpler than getting a taxi. The nurses were a bit surprised when we asked if I could do that, but were ok when they found out where we lived. But because of the baby we had to move to a two bed flat, a bit further.

notquitenormal Fri 19-Mar-10 14:14:13

You could ask for one on freecycle? I wouldn't normally use a second hand one, but for one journey I would.

fanjolina Fri 19-Mar-10 14:14:20

Which hospital are you going to deliver at? My friend gave birth at St Thomas's and they let her take her baby home in the pram.

notquitenormal, the point is that I wanted to avoid having one more bulky thing at home. I've seen a couple of car seats really cheap in Argos, which would probably be safer than using a second hand one from freecycle - in this case, if I can't avoid having one, guess I'd go for the cheap seat.

fanjolina, Royal Free Hospital, in Hampstead.

darcymum Fri 19-Mar-10 16:33:50

Its less than a mile, if you feel up to it could you walk?

Jennylee Fri 19-Mar-10 18:11:56

if money is an issue there is a newborn car seat for about £22 in argos at the moment, if you are going to hardly use it, they don't have t cost over a hundred quid

smallorange Fri 19-Mar-10 18:20:35

Why don't you walk home or get the bus with baby in sling or borrow a car seat from a friend?

BlameItOnTheBogey Fri 19-Mar-10 18:28:28

I walked home after giving birth - we don't have a car either (also in NW London). No one batted an eyelid as we left with dd in a sling. But for what it is worth, we do on occasion put dd into the back of a black cab in her pram.

MobileNumberPortability Fri 19-Mar-10 18:29:47

You could walk it / tell them your walking, then if you feel 10meters down the road you feel rough then flag a taxi, baby in carrycot on taxi floor or in sling on you/dh would be acceptable by law.

Don't believe the carrycot has a belt/fixing system inside it.

fluffles Fri 19-Mar-10 18:30:20

in my opinion it makes most sense to have DH walk the baby home in the pram.

you can walk if you feel fine or take a taxi if you're a bit delicate still.

i totally get where you're coming from with not wanting another piece of equipment to store that you'll barely use.

Walnut8 Fri 19-Mar-10 18:33:02

We had this problem (although not close enough to walk home). We also live in a tiny flat and had to factor in the issue of space! None of the taxi companies I called had infant car seats, none of our friends had one we could borrow. We looked at buying one of the very cheap ones (less than £50), but I was completely put off by the fact that many/most seemed a bit unsafe if you read reviews eg no side protection. You can hire baby car seats, which we looked into. In the end we ended up buying one for £70 because I felt that we would get more for our money than hiring (and wouldn't have to gamble with the due date and period of hire). It is actually very small and fits under our dining room table, and if we decide to hire a car in the future to take say a weekend trip out of London, we will have something to use. Glad we made the decision to buy in the end.

smallorange Fri 19-Mar-10 18:33:13

I've always put mine in the back of a black cab in a pram. Also sat in the back with baby in a sling

MobileNumberPortability Fri 19-Mar-10 18:42:12

from chelsea & westminster hospital website "Transport home
Make sure you wrap your baby well and, if you are travelling in any car, use a car seat. This can be brought into hospital when you’re ready to go home"

WeNeedToLeaveInFiveMinutes Fri 19-Mar-10 18:50:35

I get a cab for you and get your DH to walk home with the pushchair or a sling. But the hospital will probably prefer a pushchair!

smallorange Fri 19-Mar-10 18:59:37

Our hospital hires out car seats - you could look into that

LittleSilver Fri 19-Mar-10 19:24:25

norks, how exactly do they enforce that? They cannot legally stop you leaving and it is not up to them to tell you what mode of transport you choose. Also, why are you more likely to have a PPH walking or on public transport? And is that going to make the slightest bit of difference to the outcome?

Well, the whole point of my initial rant was that I was feeling bullied into buying something I don't need/want!

Now I feel I have some options, at least, which makes it seems less bad

I'll check with the hospital about hiring it, but I believe if they had this service they would have mentioned it in the antenatal class, when I explained my situation...

LittleSilver, apparently they can't refuse to let you out the hospital - but from some stories I've heard, they really bully you into the car seat thing, saying they won't let you out!

PardonMyClench Fri 19-Mar-10 19:36:36

Would you like to borrow our baby car seat? My Lo has just moved into the bigger chair. It is in good nick and never involved in an accidnet or the like. I work at the Royal Free.

MillyMollyMoo Fri 19-Mar-10 19:39:27

My aunty got the bus home with her baby in her arms, however Stokke prams aren't cheap and I'd say if you can spend £650 on a pram to keep the baby in the style and comfort it's going to become accustomed to, for the sake of £25 in argos you could use your nectar points to buy a car seat for one journey and you never know it might come in handy.

It isn't the role of a mw to enforce that law. To prevent your baby from leaving the hospital with you is kidnap. They can say whatever they like, they can't legally enforce it.

And fwiw, I was in a lovely birthing unit where the meals were made for me and I was very tired. If they told me they weren't letting me out I would have stayed for a couple of months.

I also wonder how they enforce such "rules" what about when you use a car seat that stays in the car, they accompany you to the car to check??

tbh in your position I would say just buy a cheap one, you can always sell it on/give it away in the future if you dont end up using it. space wise they dont take up that much room, surely you have a wardrobe it can go in/on top of, or a cuboard, or as someone else said under a table...

BeehiveBaby Fri 19-Mar-10 19:49:48

IMHO, you need a car seat. I don't drive but use the train to visit family and friends with a taxi ride at the end. Also, if baby is ill out of GP surgery hours, you may need to get a cab to a walk in centre.

I found the Jane Matrix seat brilliant, as it's a carseat and flat carrycot in one so saved space and on long journies DC lies flat when not actually in the car.

abbierhodes Fri 19-Mar-10 19:53:21

I agree with those who say a car seat might be useful even if you don't own a car.

However, there's no way I'd buy one just to placate the staff at the hospital!!! They have no right to tell you how to travel...and I certainly wouldn't be bullied by them!

skidoodly Fri 19-Mar-10 19:56:29

I would not buy a carseat instead of a bouncer. Bouncy seats are much more comfortable than car seats. Neither of my daughters was happy sitting in the car seat for more than a couple of minutes, if even that.

sunshiney Fri 19-Mar-10 19:58:02

A car seat is not an acceptible substitute for a bouncy chair. Something to do with the posture it puts the babys back into. Not suitable for any extended period.

Don't think a bouncer is too wonderful either but at least they're a bit less restricted in it

Thediaryofanobody Fri 19-Mar-10 20:03:00

Is this actually a law? I always though it was hospital legislation but no actually enforceable. The hospital staff can not legally stop you leaving they don't have that sor of power.

Course it's not the law. Honestly.

smallorange Fri 19-Mar-10 20:07:34

You only need a car seat if you are actually going home in a car!

You are allowed to walk home, you know.

VeronicaCake Fri 19-Mar-10 23:17:02

You don't have to put the baby in a carseat if you are using a taxi, and of course the hospital cannot really stop you leaving just because you don't have a carseat. But you might still want to consider buying one.

We don't have a car (although we live outside London, and the hospital is 13 miles away so I wasn't contemplating walking home).

We have bought a car seat (for our first baby - due in May) partly because I didn't want to be fretting about getting a taxi home with the baby. But also because once I started totting up the number of times when we might use it (like taxi trips to hospital/walk-in centres when the baby is poorly, when friends and family come to visit and want to take us out or when we go down to London to stay with family who have cars) it seemed like having one might actually be pretty handy, even if it is unlikely to see much day-to-day use.

We've been very lucky and friends have passed on their old Quinny Buzz to us, so we bought a Maxi-Cosi carseat that will fit in it. If you haven't bought your pram/pushchair yet then getting a chassis that is compatible with a carseat might be something you want to consider, since you could then pop the kid in it if heading out on the train and enjoy the potential to take a taxi-ride or get a lift from friends at the other end.

In addition if you plan to have more than one kid the car seat will see further use in the future, and since you are highly unlikely to have a crash with it you can also pass it on to friends or family once you have completed your family. So you won't just be buying a piece of junk to make the hospital happy and then leaving it on a shelf.

FairyCakeBump Sat 20-Mar-10 01:05:27

We live in a small townhouse with very little storage space and we also live right behind the hospital where I'll be delivering. Neither of us drive.

We've still bought a carseat, mainly for the reasons that VeronicaCake has already listed. The carseat will be living on top of our wardrobe.

PardonMyClench many thanks, that would be great! How do I get in contact with you? (still not used to MN system)

About the bouncer, I'm not buying one anyway, so it wouldn't be a substitute. I know babies can't stay in a car seat for too long, so it would be only for short periods (like for ex having a shower).

The comments here are almost convincing me to buy a car seat to use in taxis and rides with friends! But if I'm going to use it that much, then maybe it would be wiser to do as Walnut8 and go for a reasonably good one (and not the super-cheap I had in mind). But then, alas, it's more money to spend!

(my plan when I got pregnant was to buy as few stuff as possible, but apparently that's more difficult than I thought!).

So I think the best option at the moment would be to borrow it (if I can), and then postpone the purchase.

Many thanks you all, you definitely helped a lot.

hf128219 Sat 20-Mar-10 01:19:48

Have you ever heard of taking a chance? Caution to the wind?

Just put the baby in your lap in a a licensed taxi.

MillyMollyMoo Sat 20-Mar-10 19:44:57

*Have you ever heard of taking a chance? Caution to the wind?*


Not many people feel like throwing caution to the wind when it comes to their baby's or children's safety in a car, especially if they aren't even driving it.

sarah293 Sat 20-Mar-10 19:49:22

we walked home when we lived in London and had dd1.
The other times we got a taxi and held ds1 and ds2 on laps.
We didn't die.

I'm sure most of the time, most people who throw caution in the wind don't die. Otherwise we would be living in a nearly empty planet wink

However, a few times very bad things happen and, surprise surprise, it's impossible to know when it will be. That's why some people decide to be cautious all the time. I guess a very bad thing happening just ONCE is bad enough, but well, some people may disagree

Strap it to the roof rack - after all nothing will probably happen it's only a new born who's life isn't worth the paltry price of a car seat.

For fecks sake why would anyone take the risk?

strawberrykate Sat 20-Mar-10 20:56:10

I remember as a child all my siblings coming home on the tube, I clearly remember the trips when Dad and I collected mum and the carrycot from UCH. I was a bit scared of the tube and hated it. When the triplets were born I remember picking them up one by one as they were allowed home on different days/ weeks.

dillydallydolly Sat 20-Mar-10 21:14:24

Dont know if your due a maternity leave gift?? get chatting and drop some well placed hints about how lovely a car seat would be and so useful even though you dont have a car, people are often unsure what new parents will want or need so you could well be doing them a favour!! Try this with family and friends also (maybe straight out blunt to them?) a couple of them will probably think its a great idea and get it for you as a joint pressie smile

PardonMyClench Sun 21-Mar-10 21:53:39

Schroedinger I think you can do the 'contact poster' thing . If it doesn't work post back on the thread. You are welcome to keep the seat if you wish. My baby days are done.

alurkerspeaks Sun 21-Mar-10 22:37:14

Are you saying that in the next 9months of your babies life you will never ever get in a car or a taxi? Or in the first 9 months of any subsequent babies life?

I have lots of friends who live in London without a car (it is after all that kind of place). They all have carseats though for cab journeys, hire car weekends or trips out with people who have cars.

Seriously I think it is probably worth buying one.

alurkerspeaks Sun 21-Mar-10 22:40:41

Sorry have just read the whole thread now.

It makes life simpler if you have a carseat from day 1 (says the girl who drove friend and her first baby to the emergency doctor on day 5 of his life).

This would have been very difficult if they hadn't had their own car seat and would have significantly upped the anxiety.

What car seat sits on the stokke chassis? This is a really useful function (esp in London if you are using cabs as you don't want to have to carry the car seat when you get to your destination).

alurkerspeaks yes, the comments I read here ended up convincing me that having a car seat at home won't be as useless as I thought at first. So I guess, I'm giving up and bringing one more bulky thing to my life

And just to answer your question, I don't think any car seat will fit the stokke chassis, but they sell adaptors so I can do what you suggested.

IMoveTheStars Tue 23-Mar-10 18:19:45


OP - have a look on ebay, you can probably get a second-hand on for hardly anything.

mustrunmore Tue 23-Mar-10 18:21:00

We were in same position as you. North London, no car, no friends with cars.We wre given a cheap car seat by my mums friend. But what I do remeber is how quickly we made friends with other parents with cars and got lifts for days out etc, and actually really needed a car seat! We ended up being given a much better one, and it was worth having!

Ripeberry Tue 23-Mar-10 18:27:14

You take a taxi, baby gets pushed home in a pram/pushchair. Not worth all this faffing around for less than a mile.

PardonMyClench Fri 26-Mar-10 22:05:24

Schroedinger - e-mail me on colleyecrawford at aol.com re: carseat if you want.

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