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

(60 Posts)
schroedingersdodo Fri 19-Mar-10 13:31:11

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..

SPBInDisguise Fri 19-Mar-10 13:34:59

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.

SparklyGothKat Fri 19-Mar-10 13:58:12

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.

schroedingersdodo Fri 19-Mar-10 14:08:08

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.

schroedingersdodo Fri 19-Mar-10 16:30:35

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

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