Dear PoPville – How feasible it is to go through a pregnancy and to raise a child without a car?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Matt.Dunn

“Dear PoPville,

My fiance and I are thinking about starting a family sometime in the next year or two. We have been happily carless in Shaw for 5 years and are wondering how feasible it is to go through a pregnancy and to raise a child without a car? For example, do pregnant women (and new parents) make a lot of unplanned trips to the doctor, for which we would want a car? How have your readers made it work?”

Both of my neighbors who lived for years without cars both got one when they were pregnant. For those with kids or are pregnant (Ed. Note: Congrats to those who are) what have your experiences been like? Has anyone done it without a car? If so – do you use bus or metro? How far away (minutes by foot) do you live from bus/metro?

79 Comment

  • I don’t care for people who always feel compelled to tell pregnant women horror stories. So I apologize if any of this worries you.

    An acquaintance had a genetic form of anemia. While she was pregnant she had to get blood transfusions. The type and cross must be done in advance. The transfusion itself must be done slowly. A whole day out for a single transfusion.

    If you have questionable or borderline glucose results, you’ll be in that office drinking orange stuff a lot.

    I assume this hypothetical child would be going to daycare, yes? Daycare where other kids have colds. Usually the scenario is your kid catches what is going around, then they get better and you get sick.

    Also, I live near a daycare. Parents metro to my stop, walk their child to daycare, get back on and go to work. Three families drop off around 7:30 AM and pick up around 6. I think this would be a lot faster with a car.

    I myself do not have children, but there’s been kind of a baby boom with my family and friends. My sister and I have talked about it and neither one of us can imagine doing it without a car. I wouldn’t want to take an already sick baby on the metro. I saw those nasty metro petri dishes.

    If your kid interacts with anyone, he/she will get colds. A coworker’s darling seems to be a germ magnet.

    There is so much you cannot plan for. I really believe you need to be open and prepared to have a car. Hopefully some actual parents will chime in.

    • My husband and I are buying a car in anticipation of the birth of our first child this October. We would rather not have to get a car and are hoping to compromise by using the vehicle as little as possible.

      One of the big challenges we are facing right now is finding a daycare that is close enough to the metro or a convenient bus line. Many of the daycares in Petworth are a half mile or more from the nearest metro, meaning a commute that would involve several metro or bus transfers and a fair amount of walking.

      iwill, if you could share the name of the daycare near your home where parents use the metro to drop of their kids, we would be grateful!

      • There’s a UPO Early Childhood Development Center at 3400A 14th St NW (in the Washington Dance Institute), about four blocks up from Columbia Heights Metro, and served by the 52/54 buses. More EDC’s can be found here:

        Not a parent and never been in one, so I can’t vouch for their quality, but I walk by it everyday and see parents dropping kids off on the way to work.

  • Also, I hear a worrying amount of “Don’t squish the baby!” shouts on metro at rush hour for those babies in slings. People are rushing in because it’s rush hour and heaven knows there won’t ever be another train so you have to cram in.

  • Congrats on your pregnancy! We live in Columbia Heights and have one toddler…one on the way. I do not have access to a car during the day and even during the weekends, we seldom use our vehicle unless we are leaving the city. I would say most of the time, not having a car with kids is very doable especially if you are near a metro. In fact, that is one of the great things about living in the city, you can just walk out your front door and pretty much get to anyplace with just your feet and a stroller. A couple points:

    A good stroller is key. You want it to be able to handle the rough sidewalks, curbs, stairs and most importantly, it should articulate well. It is really hard to quickly get on an off the metro, in our out of doors, or around all the comings and goings if your stroller is hard to turn. There are a lot of great city strollers and if that is your main mode of transport, worth spending a little $…trust me, you’ll use it a lot. Plus, I’ve known a lot of people who burn through the umbrella strollers…they are great for some things, but walking in this city destroys the wheels.

    A majority of the time I am solely dependent on metro or my feet. However, it does help to have a car for emergencies. You will probably find yourself needing to go to your pede dr. at least a few times with a sick child and possibly even the emergency room. And, if you are not having a home birth, you won’t want to wait around for the bus / deal with a cab. Honestly, as infrequently as we have needed a vehicle, those are the few times where it really becomes a necessity. Maybe just use zip car if you have one near to you? Or, you can just thread a seat belt through the car seat if you needed to take a cab.

  • People do this all the time in cities. My sister has 2 kids in Brooklyn, no car. They get rentals, zip cars, or car services when they need it. Groceries are exclusively by delivery. DC is a little less set up for the carless, but I imagine if you live in the right neighborhood it would be no problem.

  • andy

    we got the car a month before the kid was born. it is parked all week, unless there’s a real need to get something. milk, formula, bananas, whatever the crisis item is. when you really need something to happen in a timely way when you are running the household, like grocery shopping, etc., you really want the car.

    if you have an alternative like zipcar that allows you immediate nearby access to an always available car, you’re fine.

    if not, you’ll be burned out and not have time to drop two hours getting to and from the grocery store, doctor’s office, etc., not counting the visit itself.

    when you have the kid you’re always pressed for time and stress piles up. you’ll want the car sometimes for sure.

    so get one that’s small, easy to park, safe and meets your other needs. like if you want to work around the house, for example, you might want a truck or a big trunk.

  • Rode the “S” buses the whole 9 months of my first pregnancy and the 50 buses pregnant and with a two year old for the second. Getting around this city pregnant is not a problem as long as your aren’t too uncomfortable and are getting around okay. It’s a bit exhausting, but in general people are pretty accommodating and will give you a seat. I did have one individual give me a hard time while 7 months pregnant with my two year old taking up a seat next to me who yelled, “It’s not our fault you keep making babies.” Honestly, just par for the course on the 50 buses.

    On the bus or the metro patience and timing are key with a baby in tow. The elevators are painfully slow and often crowded on metro. It has definitely given me a lot of respect for disabled folks that have to navigate the system on them every day. Also, I adjusted my work schedule to ride the bus during slightly off hours. If I got stuck during rush trying to get home I’d often walk a few extra blocks to get on at the beginning of the line to get a seat with my little one. Getting off a crowded bus can be tricky too, but trust me, once you are with a baby in your arms, the parental ferocity will get you off no problem!

    Agree with Anonymous about having a good stroller. If you ride the bus the smaller/lighter the better because you need to fold it up. Even though we got a decent McLaren we ended up using a free umbrella stroller we got as a bonus at Babies R Us as our daily. This doesn’t work out too well when the babies are too little for the umbrella stroller, so we lived and died by the Ergo carrier until she was bigger.

    As for getting around without a car once the baby has arrived. That’s a bit tougher in my opinion. On a day to day basis we took public transport with our first, but our pediatrician is in Foggy Bottom and getting to/from is a pain in the neck from our house. If you can line up your daycare/doctors/etc near your preferred metro or bus line, you can make it work. Emergencies are emergencies and well you can’t really plan for those…

    Good luck and if you are planning for a baby in the next 2 years you should start thinking about daycare before transport!!! That’s generally a bigger headache for parents in DC!!!

  • tongue = held

  • I drove to work and coughed up the downtown parking $ for the last month of my pregnancy, because it was August and I was cranky. But it wasn’t really necessary.

    Getting to the hospital to give birth– it’s mostly in sitcoms that you don’t have hours to make that trip. Arrange for a friend to drive you home with the newborn.

    In almost four years, we’ve had one trip to the ER, for an asthma attack. Nothing so dire that a cab would have been out of the question. But I’d make friends with a car-having neighbor just in case.

    The biggest issue is daycare. I would have gone rapidly insane trying to get the kid to the nanny share and then get myself to work on time via public transportation. If you have a nanny or a share in your own house, no problem.

    I actually enjoyed errands with the stroller. We did more frequent trips to the grocery store, and fit everything in the stroller basket. Baby likes to get out. And you can keep doing zipcar or whatever you currently do for the less frequent, less urgent forays to the burbs and the big-box stores.

  • I would suggest waiting on the car. I have two kids–now almost 9 and 6 and I’ve never had a car. I’ll admit that everything takes longer but you already have that experience not currently owning a car. My kids have had emergencies, but they are very rare and you grab a cab or at worse call for an ambulance.

    This city is great for kids and most is better accessed by public transit. Plus, coming from the Midwest, I love the fact that I can raise my kids without a car–neighbors know us, the kids notice way more having to walk everywhere, and there is a certain sense of independence instilled in them at a young age as they start to understand the metro system.

    Kids are costly–save your money on the car till you are really feeling hindered by the absence of your own. Luckily for me, that hasn’t happened in the last ten years.

  • There are a lot of thoughtful readers here.

  • I think it depends on the age of your kid, really. For one, I would not want to take a newborn on the metro because of the germs and the noise. Yes, germs are good but day care would provide enough of that. And noise – metro is VERY loud for an infant’s ears and can do significant harm.

    And once they’re old enough to have activities, I could imagine going insane trying to get them from place to place.

    For those who work full time, I could also see going a little crazy trying to get to day care on time after work, since that seems to be a major issue with many day cares (or you pay extra if you arrive late).

    If you’re flexible, everything is close by (which to me, rarely are…but who knows) and have a good back up system like a neighbor who can get your kid if you’re running late due to the all-too-regular metro break down, then it’s possible. We have a car- it’s paid off, and works, and I couldn’t imagine not having it simply to save time in my life – without kids.

  • Maybe it would be a good idea to just wait and see how often you find yourself wishing you had a car after the baby is born. I would think that you could continue your carless existence if there is reliable taxi service available where you live. Walk/bus/metro for daily stuff, get a zip car when you need to haul stuff, and call/hail a cab for emergencies (unless you have a parking pad in your back yard, going to get your car might take as much time as it would take to get a cab). If that doesn’t work for you, then get a car and know that you tried to stick it out without a car!

  • I think about this too as I’m in the same situation. While friends & family would certainly help out in emergencies I’d hate to have to always rely on someone else. We use the zip car now, but I could see that adding up pretty quickly with Docters appointments etc. once the baby is born. Plus you would have to keep your car seat in the house and always strap it in before you go anywhere. But is it possible? Definitely. It will just be harder that NOT having a car. Being childless right now I enjoy public transportation… who knows how that will change later on!

    I think it’s worth giving a shot and there are many benefits as others who posted before me have pointed out. Those who are arguing you need a car when you have a child are people who have cars themselves so they can’t imagine being without it. If you are used to being car-free it will be easier to adapt when you have a child. I’ll report back a few years from now on whether or not we could do it!

  • in shaw? you’ll be fine.

  • I’m just going to leave this right here:

    You can pick one of these up at bicycleSPACE. It’s what we’ve been using for the past three years for our kids and it works like a charm. It’s definitely not an everyday thing, but it works great if, say, you have a daycare pickup and you need to grab a few things at the grocery store.

  • Look into Christiana Bikes! We use one instead of a car and it’s great! Capitol Hill/Potomac Ave area.

  • unless you’re buying an old beater, it is likely that it is cheaper to simply take a cab everywhere you want to go every time than it is to buy a car

    unfortunately for me, i dont live with my children full time. the only reason i have a car is to go pick them up and take them back. i’d rather spend the time saved with them at home or elsewhere than waiting for buses and whatnot.

    as well, if and when you need to start taking them to school and after school activities and such you’ll want a car then i’m sure. unless of course you’re sending your kids to your neighborhood school (hahahahaha). but perhaps by then you’ll have done the westward shuffle and landed yourself in key, lafayette, mann, murch or janey districts.

    • I also find my car useful for a similar reason. My kid only lives with me part time, so the 15 minutes there and back I save by driving to pick him up rather than bus/metro is 30 more minutes I have with him and that is irreplaceable to me. I also live north in Petworth, so it’s a good walk to a metro or a good wait for a bus, so I just find it more convenient.

    • If you value your child’s safety, don’t take this person’s advice about taking cabs everywhere.

  • I really think it depends on where you live. Where I am, I could quite easily find a doctor’s office and daycare within walking distance. The only reason we’d need a car is for hospital emergencies and for doing fun things out of town. I do think that, if you work regular hours, commuting with a baby younger than 1 year would be tough.

  • What’s the protocol for babies and taxis? I mean, hold them on your lap like Britney? Lug around a car seat?

    • Car seat. An absolute must.

      • andy

        i am a big stickler as well. but then again i also take my kid on the bus, which is strange.

        why does the world assume that crash physics don’t apply when you are on a bus?

        • Because the mass of the bus and the velocity of typical bus traffic make it less likely to have the violent types of collisions you’re talking about. If you’re driving a Camry, rear-ending that guy in front of you is going to make you jerk to a stop a lot more quickly than if you’re driving a bus — ergo less violent crashes for buses.

          It’s not that crash physics don’t apply, it’s just that it’s different than a car.

    • austindc

      I think they make strollers that transform into car seats somehow.

    • I think the actual law is that a carseat isn’t required in a cab, but it’s up to you whether to take that chance.

      Strollers don’t magically transform into carseats. There’s a really basic stroller base you can buy that attaches to an infant carseat, and there’s an attachment for a toddler carseat that essentially turns it into a rolling suitcase.

  • We had no car when our older arrived and for some time after that. This so horrified my father-in-law that he gave us one of his cars. We kept our habits for the most part and didn’t put very many miles on the car, but it was convenient enough to have one available that we replaced it when it started costing too much to get it through inspections. It helped, of course, that almost everything we needed was in walking distance, now including the pediatrician’s office, the daycare we used and the elementary schools the girls eventually attended as well as the food, hardware, etc. vendors we’ve used all along. (We live in Capitol Hill near Eastern Market. My late father-in-law never really understood why we didn’t move to the suburbs, but did appreciate being able to leave his car parked for days at at time when he visited us.)

  • If you are flexible, not a germ-aphobe, and are cool with the bus, don’t worry about when the baby comes for commuting. I’ve gradually swtiched over from a metro person (when the baby was tiny with a bunch of stuff) to a bus person to avoid the hassle of the metro. You can do it. But you need to choose an easily accessible drs office etc. You can also get groceries (and diapers) from Peapod or if you are home to get the package.

    The biggest issue I would have is with your drs appointments when you are pregnant. There are a lot of them. I was a miserable pregnant person and always took public transport to work (jsut changed my hours to avoid rush times). You need to think about planning in advance for zipcar (or get in a good relationship with some cab drivers) for these. Also, more importantly, choose your doctors and hospitals wisely. It may be better to do Wash Hospital Center or Howard for you so you are closer even if not –as —metro accessable. My doc joked I could walk to the hospital if I was in slow labor . . .

  • I admire the people who can make life work with a kid and without a car, but I’m not one of them. Partly due to where our daycare and my office are located–getting to both would be doable via the bus, but it would add another 1-3 hours onto my day and, frankly, I’m exhausted enough as it is and already feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Plus, I don’t have the patience required to wait with a toddler for a late bus next to an extremely busy street at rush hour, or to wrangle a screaming, temper-tantruming one on a standing room only bus or metro car. And in contrast to a couple of posters above, we’ve had two ER visits in two years, including one for an extremely high fever and uncontrollable vomiting. I’d hate to bring that in a cab.

    For me to be able to do this without a car, I’d have to work downtown near a metro stop that’s on the same line as the stop near my house, and have daycare in the same place.

    That said, we rarely use our car on the weekends and a much more likely to walk everywhere. I agree with the poster who said that a good stroller will be key if you try to do this. I also have a friend who lives on the Hill without a car and has taken her son on the bus since he was tiny. She doesn’t have a 9-5 type job, though, so I think that provides some extra flexibility for getting around.

    • I agree 100%. Having a car makes life with my 1.5 year old much easier and saves time. Yes I’m sure it is possible to get by without one but I’m so glad that I don’t have to do it.

    • Totally agree with Dreas. We have two kids and one car. We drive during the week because the additional time on public transportation would so greatly eat into our mornings and evening time with our kids that it just wouldn’t be worth it.

      • What’s funny is that “the additional time on public transportation would so greatly eat into our mornings and evening time with our kids” is that you’re actually with your kids during that “additional time” so it’s not eating into it at all.

        My little boy loves talking to people on the Metro and we have out longest conversations while I’m walking him to daycare.

        • Lesson #1 about parenting: no matter what you do, someone is going to tell you that you’re doing it all wrong.

          Seriously, our trip to daycare would be ~45 minutes via bus and/or metro–and uses one of those buses that only comes every 30 minutes. You have to know how things can go screwy in the morning: one spilled cup of juice, one ill-timed poop, and your whole schedule is blown. To be safe, we need to get out of the house by 7:30 (btw, my kid sleeps until then most days). Then, from daycare to my office is minimum 30 minutes, max an hour and 15 minutes. So I’m not at my office until 9:30, maybe 10am. If I have to do the same return trip and make sure I’m there before our pick-up time, I’m leaving the office by 5–which gets me a whopping 7 hours in the office. That isn’t going to cut it with my employer, but let’s continue for the sake of argument. The same bus issue going home also comes up; if I miss the first one, we’re out of luck for 30 minutes or I’m taking the most roundabout, ridiculous metro route while dragging a tired, hungry kid with me AND we’re not home until close to his bedtime. I may be with him, but it’s stressful and not fun.

        • Or, you know, sitting around a breakfast table and talking about what you all are going to do for the day, instead of having to rush out early and get the bus. I guess it depends on how you want to spend that quality time…

        • We are also with them in the car (for a shorter period of time than on the bus or Metro) talking with them about their days, etc., but driving gives us more time at home with them during both the morning and the evening. There is time, and there is quality time. Every family is different, this is just our experience.

  • I think there’s a lot of factors here. I can’t speak for baby raising itself, but I can say as a pregnant person that finding public transportation (or the cash to take a cab) to and from the OB is kind of a nightmare. I find it’s much faster when my SO picks me up and takes me. Most OB offices are only open 8am – 4pm (in fact, all of them are, from what I’ve seen), so if you work you’ll definitely have to take time out of your work day. Will you job allow you to take the extra time you’ll require to go to all your appointments? If so, I don’t think you need a car. But if you’re a woman, and you work for people that aren’t really keen on mothers (and yes, that does happen), they might question your dedication to your job when you’re taking that extra time. That’s extreme, but that’s one argument for a car. If you don’t work or you have a very flexible schedule, it’s not a big deal.

    Plus, in the first few months, you only have OB appointments once a month(but then you also have ultrasounds, so that might be twice a month, technically). As you get further along, it’s once every two weeks. Then once a week. And god forbid you have to do any extra testing. You’ll probably be happier if you take a cab, but that just costs more money. You’d have to study your finances and decide which would be more cost effective.

  • I don’t have a kid, and these are just observations. I knew a couple on their 1st kid. Mom was a metro-everywhere ‘I don’t drive’ kind of person. Dad drove, but he drove to work and the car wasn’t available for most of the day. I think she began to drive around the time kid #1 needed to get to the charter school. So during pregancy and until kid #1 turned 3, she was pretty carless for those get the kids around the weekday things. They lived in southern Bloomingdale.
    A couple with 1 kid, also 1 car that spent most of the time parked. Why, work and everything else had no parking. I’ve run into the mom in the metro, near the metro, a couple of times as she’s going to pick up kid from day care or school. This is the green line, so it isn’t the same mad rush hour crush you get on the red and orange lines. On day, it was so cute. I ran into mom and kid, and they were walking back from their Col. Heights charter school with another mom and her kids. On the train the girls (4 in total) were gabbing and being so freakin’ happy from CH to Shaw, leaning across seats, sharing, hugging, and just being awfully cute and girlie.
    If you’ve lived without a car, you know how to do things without a car that car-owners can’t even fathom. You know to avoid picking places (schools, doctors, etc) that are too hard to get to without a car, you also have a sense of when is the best time and what’s the best route to get to where.
    There are women with kids and infants on the buses and trains all the time. Next time you’re on the bus, notice the woman or the shockingly young girl with 1 or 3 kids in tow. Just because they may be of a different race (or class) doesn’t mean it can’t be done by anyone, regardless of ethnic background or precieved notions of what someone of their socio-economic position is ‘supposed’ to do.

    • I used to take the S bus to and from work, in reverse-commute direction. And i do remember seeing so many parents and kids going to preschool on it. It was so cute when they ran into their friends and laugh and chat, everyone’s mood would just light up.

  • I don’t drive so when I (hopefully) have kids it’s a non-issue because that’s just not something I do.

  • We are a 1-car family & were before we had a baby. We live in CH, just about 1-mile from WHC. I walked or bused to several doctors visits and have walked with my son to the pediatrician’s office, too. I think it is very do-able and if you can’t wait for a bus, there is always a cab. But speaking of cabs – they are easier when the babies are under 1-year, since infant carseat are designed to be “carried” — it would probably be very awkward to carry a full-sized car seat with you to the corner to hail a cab.

  • Please pardon my semi-hijacking of the thread, but my wife and I are in the same situation as the original poster–carless in eastern Shaw/Truxton and planning to start a family soon. But my question specifically relates to bike transit. I’ve been using a bike as my primary transport for 20 years or so. I love, love, love biking. But when I see people on bikes with babies in carriers I cringe with fear for the child. I seem to be hit by careless auto drivers, while biking, at least once every 18 months or so. Usually I see it coming and avoid serious injury, but I’ve also had some serious injuries from accidents. What do folks with experience biking with children think of the risks involved? And, for the Christiana Bike fans, do you consider them safer than traditional bike-seat-height carriers? Thanks.

    • i agree with you on the fears of bikin g with a kid. no way in hell i would do that. cabs. i would take a cab.

    • I am also a long-time bike commuter with a 19 month old. I would be OK with biking my son on bike trails and on sidewalks all the way down to the mall but not on my daily commute. I actually also biked to work up until I was about 8 months pregnant (I stopped because it got icy) and at some point, I got too slow so I just biked on sidewalks. Fortunately, my commute goes through neighborhoods and not through downtown traffic. I avoided the metro when I was pregnant because it made me nauseous.

      As for the original OP question, we are a one-car family with a heavy duty stroller. I don’t drive and I get around by foot, on bike, or on public transport. I took my son on the metro before he was two weeks old and I looked forward to it because it lulled him to sleep. The city is loud and his room fronts the street so he’s not easily startled by loud noises ever since he was little.

      I agree with a lot of the posters here. It’s very doable to not have a car but it does make things convenient too for doc visits and the one ER visit we went on (we went to Sibley all the way across town). My baby is in grandma care but I imagine if I had to deal with daycare, a car would be convenient. We already had a car before baby was born so the question is would we have bought a car? We probably will get a bigger car when we have second so yes, probably.

    • Love the ibert bike seat.
      Puts baby up front within your arms, is amazing. You can also take it on/off your bike easily. Your baby needs to be old enough to be a sturdy sitter to use it. Trailers scare me for the reasons described above. We also choose carefully our routes.

    • I don’t bike with my son, but I have to say I’m a hundred percent with you on cringing every time I see a kid on a bike in traffic. A couple of weeks ago, I actually saw a couple on bikes just north of Target and the guy had the baby–maybe 4-5 months old?–on his chest in an Ergo carrier. No helmet on the baby, although I think the the dad did have one on. Scared the crap out of me for that kid.

  • Two words: Amazon Prime. No, I don’t work for them, but for us it’s been well worth it to have free 2-day shipping on pretty much anything. Babies need a lot of stuff, and they are a pain to take shopping whether you have a car or not. By the same token: Peapod.

    Congratulations. It will be fun.

    • +1000 on Amazon Prime. And its free for 3 months+ for new moms and gets extended as you buy more stuff.

      (I don’t work for them either, but all of our diapers and baby gear come from amazon)

    • Also sign up for Amazon Mom and do subscribe and save for diapers and wipes (if you decide to use disposable ones). That will save you 30% compared to retail prices. It is seriously an amazing deal.

  • We have a one year old and a second on the way. We have a car and appreciate the A/C in the summer and the heat in the winter for getting our little guy to doctors appts, play dates, and the like. We have had lots of visitors since our son was born and it is nice to pick people up at the airport instead of putting them in a cab. Our doctors are at Georgetown so this is a factor for us.

    My greatest fear without a car would be a medical emergency. I don’t want to wait around for a cab or an ambulance to show up.

    I wouldn’t say it is a necessity, but it is awfully nice and I think it makes life easier during this time. One less thing to worry about. I imagine one parent with groceries…add a child/stroller/diaper bag/rain and snow/100+ degree weather to that and you can quickly have your hands full.

  • I would suggest learning how to drive and then buying a car. Driving is really not that scary or difficult, and you’ll find that having a car really comes in handy.

  • next ime you’re on the bus and see a woman with a kid, ask them.

  • We live in Shaw and have an infant. While it is definitely doable to live here without a car, it is a LOT easier to have a car when you need it. We are active people who mostly walk and take public transportation. Our stroller gets a lot of use. Our car usually sits during the week, but knowing that it’s there to use whenever we need it is really nice. We’re 2 full time working parents so convenience has become really important to us, much more so than before we had our baby and we had a lot more free time on our hands. There has already been a lot of good advice given. It’s really up to you to think about what your preferences/needs are.

  • Your not even expecting yet, and you’re thinking about car seats? Wow, type A, eh?

    You don’t need a car, but it’s useful. Certainly, most low income families in DC don’t have cars, though you may not be in that boat. But, my friends who could afford them got cars usually after the baby grew out of the infant seats. Wrangling and properly installing a child sized car seat in and out of a taxi or zipcar is a huge hassle. All those visits to the pediatrician are a lot easier when you have your own wheels.

    There is a stroller that converts to a car seat that helps a bit. A bike trailer is great, but not until the baby has good head control, after a year.

    You can certainly limit car use in DC, but there are enough days where it is a hassle that most folks get one.

  • Stroller + Ergo baby Carrier + Zipcar (get a car seat)

    My 18 month old loves her bus friends – she knows all the drivers on the S-routes.

    Biggest pain is when you need to carry stuff (ie groceries, bags, etc) and baby. Best answer is a good stroller with a big basket for smaller trips (farmer’s market, quick trip for milk, etc) and the internet. rocks for all things baby with low overnight shipping. Also use or for big shops.

    I am raising two kids in the city and while I do have a very old car that I had pre-kids, I rarely use it and if it wasn’t already paid for wouldn’t have it.

    You don’t need a car for pregnancy.

  • Since I got pregnant on the bus I may as well keep riding it after the baby comes.

  • A car is probably not a necessity with an infant but will increase your options for daycare and schools later. With an infant, it will just make life easier during a time when your life will be anything but easy.

  • Congratulations on your pregnancy! I agree with most of the advice people have given you. I’d like to add one more thing. I think the decision of getting or not getting a car also has to do with how much risk you are willing to take and how much help you can get if something goes wrong. Let me explain. If your pregnancy goes well (and most do) and your kid is healthy (and most are), then is a matter of choosing doctors that are conveniently located. You can live without a car. The problem comes if you or your baby have a complication; and sometimes things do go wrong very unexpectedly. If that happens you won’t have time to buy a car then. I spent most of the last trimester of the pregnancy and most of the first month after the baby was born coming and going from doctors and hospitals. They were a lot of trips. I don’t know I could have done it without a car (I live in the city close to the metro with lots of bus routes close-by). So, if you choose not to buy a car, have a plan B readily available in case something goes wrong: a zip-car, a friend or a neighbor that could lend you a car for long periods of time, etc. Good luck!!

  • I don’t have kids, but hope to someday. I just wanted to say that I am so impressed with the thoughtful, supportive and helpful remarks from POPville. This has been really great to read.

  • i’m enjoying the twitters feeds of DC’s writer illuminati that are too cool to post here. there is an ongoing tweet commentary about how insulting the question is because there are so many people that have already been living with kids without cars.
    so cute. so sensitive.

  • My wife and I have two kids (infant and toddler), both born in DC and we don’t have a car, in fact neither of us drive. It’s fine. We take cabs, buses, Metro but we mainly walk everywhere (we live in Adams Morgan).

    We’re lucky we live near a supermarket but otherwise (free two-day shipping for orders over $39 or $49 depending on what you’re buying) is great: order before 3pm and it usually arrives the next day. Also, Peapod for heavy stuff.

    Obviously not having a car changes your thinking when it comes to choices about daycare and pediatricians and so on. But there are enough options to make it work without sweating about it.

    • I could see going through pregnancy and young childhood without a car– it would be pretty inconvenient for most, but doable. But what about when the kids get older and want to play on a soccer team, take violin lessons, act in a play, hang out with their friends? What if you’re not too happy with the neighborhood middle school and want to look at private or charter? At some point, I have to think that not having a car would start to restrict the opportunities available to your kid. Not saying that a happy carless childhood is impossible, but it would be pretty difficult.

  • I agree with others that the stroller is key. There is an expensive one out there (the Orbit) that allows the seat of the stroller (infant or toddler)to detach from the stroller base and plug-in to another base that is used in a car. It is actually marketed to people who use taxis and other public transit. We went for a (much) less costly one and focused on it being lightweight, small footprint, and maneuverable. You REALLY want to be able to push the stroller with one hand.

    If you have a homebirth, your prenatal visits can be at YOUR house, with your midwife or midwives coming to you. There are still a couple of pediatricians in town who make housecalls, too, which might cut down on a few office visits.

    Good luck! Life will slow down for you, car or no-car. ENJOY it!

  • I did not have a car through my pregnancy but did purchase one soon after the baby’s birth in order to shorten my commute so that it would fit with the daycare’s schedule. But my now-toddler detests her carseat most days and often cries when she has to get into the car. She loves people and ADORES the metro, and we take it whenever we can. Going on the metro means I don’t have to spend the time lugging her in and out of the car, find parking, etc… AND I have a happier kid. So the metro can save you time, too. It really just depends on your schedule/logistics. Many parents at the daycare use the Ergo carrier and say it’s fine.

    Oh, and Bright Start at Kennedy and Georgia is right by a bus stop. Last I heard they had room for babies. Get on as many waiting lists has you can – it is always good to have options!

  • We didn’t have a car until our 1st child started kindergarten and got along just fine we walked/bused him to daycare and Dr. appts. Frankly I never gave a car a second thought during that time. When he started school, there was no convenient public transportation to make the drop-off and work equation work so we were forced to buy a car (yuck)and we car-pooled. When he hit 6th grade, he and his 2nd grader sister were old enough to take the 92 and walk a couple blocks. No more need for car, although it was nice to have one to get out of Dodge for camping trips. Ultimately, until her HS graduation, the daughter left the house at 6 am, took two buses and a metro to get her from CH to her school in MD. Teach those buggers how to use public transport when they are young!

  • I have a 14 month old and have had no issues living without a car. You just need to plan a bit more when you make outings. We do live near multiple zipcar locations and metro/bus stops. Location is a big key to being able to make it happen. I also live within 1.5 miles of GW Hospital which eases my mind of the medical emergency aspect too. The only time that Zipcar is not a viable option is last minute weekend stuff. My wife and I have had no problems having a child without a car.

  • Live in CH with two kids and one car. They are in school now, so need to be driven to school (no school bus in dc and we are no in the in-boundary elementary school). But, when they were in daycare (downtown) we used metro/bus/bikes as our means of getting kids to daycare and getting to work. I would not have taken the car — I sort of doubt it would have saved time.

    With one child, the easiest way to get around by public transport is with an Ergo or other baby carrier. Don’t worry about them getting smushed on the metro, I’ve never actually seen that happen. And the Ergo speeds you up b/c you don’t have to wander around looking for elevators.

    Zip car is probably worth it.

    There are a lot of apointments while pregnant and for a new baby, but most of the docs are downtown, where you are probably working anyway, so you would likely walk there.

    Get a car seat, and learn to install it in a taxi.

    Your life will likely be easier with a car, but if you don’t have off street parking, a car won’t improve it that much.

  • My husband and I live on Cap Hill. We currently have 5 cars and in anticipation of our first child have decided to get another just to be safe. I would recommend anyone with a child have at least 4 cars.

    Good luck!


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