Commuting Into Manhattan for Daycare

Stay local for childcare, or take the kids on the subway?  Here are some words of experience.





Hi all,

My name is E., and my wife J. and I are parents to a 10.5 week old baby

boy (W.). My wife and I both work in Lower Manhattan (FiDi) and will need a

daycare solution for when our son is about 8 months in September. There’s some

good, but expensive options near both our offices. But that means they’re in



Anyone have thoughts or experience with commuting into the city during regular

working hours with an infant (who quickly becomes a toddler)? Is this crazy

because of the noise and the crowds? Are the benefits of being closer to your

child during the day and for pickup truly valuable? How do you handle a

stroller during the morning rush on a crowded train? Is a carrier a better bet

while you can still hold them?


We're also exploring plenty of Slope places as well (even BK Heights), but no

place is perfect so we're keeping our options open.









First of all, congratulations!


We have done it both ways. My now-kindergartner went to daycare near union

square for 5 yrs. my now-17 mos old goes to a local daycare. We started off with

the big kid by taking her in the carrier until she was too big for us to do

that. Then we took her in a maclaren. I was able to lift her in her stroller and

carry her, by myself, up and down the subway steps on my own, but most of the

time, if you look pathetic enough :) people will offer to help. It was certainly

not easy but it was doable. We went that route b/c we couldn't find a local

daycare that was open until 6:30 and we couldn't be sure we could get back to

the slope by 6. We loved the place she attended but decided not to repeat the

same commute with our next child b/c it's certainly easier to do drop off before

getting on the subway . It's certainly a challenge with the stroller and

sometimes people give you a look of death b/c you're taking up precious space

but most people are accommodating. Sometimes you do have to wind up letting a

train go by b/c it's too full to squeeze your child into.


Some tips, if you do decide to do the commute...always have snacks! Bring books.

As my dgtr got older, we actually brought baby food on the train and started

dinner on the way home.


With my son, the biggest issue is the stress of making sure I can get back to

Brooklyn in time. It always feels like I'm rushing. My boss was flexible enough

to let me shift my hrs by 15 mins so i am sure to be back in time after having

my son, i actually changed jobs b/c my prior position was too unpredictable in

terms of my hrs and i was responsible for supervising 30 ppl. I found that

having the 2nd child made me crave a less supervisory role with more stability

in my day. I was able to balance the craziness with one child but with two - no

way We found a local daycare that is ok if I arrive after 6 but most times, I

get there right at 6. When I'm late, they let my son play while they straighten

up the place for the next day. He's young enough that he doesn't seem to care

that he's the only one left. I worry he'll be sad when he gets old enough to

notice, but I'll deal with that when the time comes.


As for being in the same borough...that definitely has major pluses. When I get

a call that one of my kids is sick, I'm an hour away. If its a real emergency, I

would take a taxi, so I'm only about 20-25 mins away. The place my dgtr attended

couldn't give medication so if she was on antibiotics, my husband could go there

from work to give it to her (he worked 2 blocks away). With my son, his daycare

will administer stuff as long as we have a doctor's note, so we haven't had the

same issue.


I think that captures most of the things we dealt with. If you have any more

specifics, email me!


Good luck with whatever you decide.


J. (mom to S. (5.5 yrs) and S. (17 mos))-----



We have commuted with our now-almost-4-year-old from Park Slope to Brooklyn

Heights since she was 5 months old. I won't sugar coat it --the subway ride can

be tough. All those people who crowd onto the train at Atlantic Ave. aren't

exactly pleased to see a stroller taking up all that space, or hear me read

Green Eggs and Ham. And, of course, there's no elevator (at least on this end),

although carrying the stroller up and down stairs has helped build upper-body



You didn't mention if you're considering a nanny. We didn't, mostly for

financial reasons, but there have been many days when I longed for the ability

to just leave home and go to work without getting a fussy child dressed and

ready and dragging her out through the cold and snow.


In the early months, it was great to be close by (the day care is very near my

office), and I used to pop in to nurse, feed her lunch, or just check in. But

by the time my daughter was one, the caregivers gently suggested that it was too

disruptive to have me stopping by for short visits, and it's been years since I



I guess I would say that it's worth doing if you love the day care (overall,

we've been happy with the center), or can't find a better option, but it would

be ideal to use a caregiver closer to home if possible. Commuting with a little

one isn't horrible, but I honestly can't recommend it.





Hi. I’ve been doing this for almost two years with my son and it definitely has pros and cons but mostly pros so far. We commute to Chelsea to a daycare that he and I love and we did this because I had very few options when I was looking and I wanted to be able to do longer hours at work so they didn’t feel like I was slacking once I returned to work (8:30-5:30). What I found so far is this:

-- I get to spend a lot more time with him every day (an extra 1 + hours)

-- My son loves being on the train with everyone and all the sights (musicians on the platforms, advertising, being outside when we go over the bridge on the Q/B trains).ˇ˝

-- If he isn’t feeling well (had shots, teething) I can go give him medicine.

-- Bring snacks and books -- he’s always hungry by the end of the day and won’t be eating dinner for at least an hour so I always bring a snack for him. Bring something to entertain them once in the stroller stage, just in case.

-- There is a sense of community that I didn’t expect and really like. He talks to people every day and there are a lot of people who have come up to me because they’ve been watching him grow up and who enjoy seeing him. I’m sure there are people annoyed by him (he can be loud sometimes) but most people look the other way and are very kind and sweet.

-- Use a carrier until you can’t use it anymore -- it’s much easier than schlepping a stroller and you will get a seat (you won’t with a stroller).

-- Try to be fairly close to the daycare to maximize the get-home time once they’re older -- we can never seem to make it home before 7/7:15 these days because my commute from my job is longer and it takes me longer to get him to go home (he has a mind of his own, wants me to chase him, etc).

-- The frustrating stroller part may be short lived. My son recently decided (after a few months) that walking to the subway and sitting on my lap is fun and this has made the commute a lot easier again so as usual when you think you know what you’re doing it changes, again.


All in all I really like commuting with him, think it’s socialized him A LOT and I just hope my office moves closer to the daycare so I can get him home earlier. Good luck with everything and let me know if you have questions.


M. (mom to H., 22 months)




Just wanted to thank everyone for their responses and to post a summary of the

direct responses I received for future readers:



My husband and I have been commuting into Manhattan (her daycare is at CHELSEA,

I leave with her from the Atlantic Center around 830am) on the N train since she

was 4 mos old. We use a carrier, not a stroller, but will likely start using a

stroller soon since she’s almost 25 lbs now. The rush hour commute both ways (my

husband leaves manhattan with her between 530-6pm) has rarely been a problem. We

feel like having her within close proximity during the day far outweighed any

slight inconveniences. Her daycare lets us store extra diapers, wipes, cot

sheet etc there, so we only have to bring her cooler bag of snacks daily. One

other deciding factor: We are both professionals and were not able to get back

to the Slope in time for most daycares' 6 pm pickup deadline. Hope this is




i took my kids everywhere on the subway when they were young. rush hour is hard

with a stroller depending on which stop you use. the smaller the stroller the

better just so you dont have to wait for a couple trains to pass so you can fit.

i recommend using the ergo or other chest carrier because you can protect them

from being smacked with bags and you dont have to worry about someone dropping

coffee on them - people never really look down and pay much attention to

children in strollers.



if we needed it i would have chosen a location in the city - in our case my

husband worked from home so we had a nanny share near our house. have you

considered doing a nanny share with someone in manhattan near your office? or

even in brooklyn with a family that likes their kids to travel. our nanny

brought the kids to manhattan on a regular basis and they would come meet me for

lunch sometimes. nanny share is great but you have to be in sync with other


defintiely keep the baby closer to where you are all day, that way you can pop

in on them, take them out for lunch if you like, improve your time with your kid

or take a sanity break and remind yourself why you work so hard. also you can

see how they treat your child because you are closer



I have commuted from Prospect Heights to lower Manhattan for six years, with all

three of my children (obviously, I started with the first and then added a

couple more). It is not easy. But, having my childcare near my office meant I

saw them so much more, and I was close if ever they got sick. I was so happy to

have that hour-2hours with them each day instead of loosing that time. I'm not

going to lie, it's very demanding physically and on bad days can be very

stressful and for sure everyone hates you on the train if you have to travel

during the busiest hours. I carried my children for as long as possible and

avoid the stroller any time I can. I loved and still love being with the kids on

the trip when it goes smoothly, and if you find an easy (probably not fast)

route to work/daycare, then you may be able to sit and read with your child, or

even to yourself if the baby ends up being asleep. My kids have done this their

whole lives so it isn't more chaotic or stimulating than any other option

because it is all they have every done. I concentrate on them throughout the

trip, we read, tell jokes, play word games (we used to eat snacks but I guess

you aren't really supposed to now). It isn't a passive trip.

On the other hand, if calm is important to you, and you like having your own

time-say to read the newspaper or a novel or listen to music- then it might be

valuable to you to maintain that commute for your self. Being calm and feeling

less stressed has benefits for the whole family.



I've been commuting from NJ into the city for 2.5 yrs with my daughter and the

last six months with both of my kids (my son is now 9 months old). Before that,

my daughter was in day care in Brooklyn (when we lived in Brooklyn) for about 5

months. I commute by ferry, so I can't give you any perpective regarding the

subway during rush hour (although I can comment on non-rush hour) except to say

that plenty of parents do get to our day care by subway and it seems to work out

fine. (No, it's not crazy at all.)


I love spending that time with my kids on the commute - it's meaningful time

with them that I simply wouldn't have with them otherwise. (On the flip side, I

do miss reading on my commute.) If you run on a tight schedule between work and

day care (and you figure you'll generally show up at right about your scheduled

pick-up time), if Wyatt is in Manhattan, then you won't stress about train

delays when they happen. When there are any events at the day care, it can be

easier if I'm in Manhattan - it means missing less work (eg - daughter's

birthday party starting at 3:30).


I'm a single mom, so it sounds like you may not have this problem, but if I ever

want to stay home for a day by myself (eg - b/c I want to work at home or

because I've picked up one of my kids lovely stomach bugs), I can't do it

because it's too far for me to drop them off and then come back home to be by



I lived in the South Slope and toyed with the idea of looking for a place in

Brooklyn Heights, but felt like it would take too much time to get off the train

and back on again.



Two more direct responses that I forgot to include:



We have been commuting to lower Manhattan with one kid and then two kids for 4.5

years now. It can definitely be a challenge and I would do it only if you have

to. For us it was the amazing subsidized day care by my husband's job and the

fact that having them closer to our jobs allowed us to stay at work about 45

minutes longer than otherwise. We used an infant carrier/ergo for as long as

possible and then taught the children to walk by themselves holding our hand as

early as possible (thus entirely avoiding the stroller for child number 2).

Other than that, I second the recommendation for lots of snacks, toys, books,

etc. and a certain amount of think skin for side glances from strangers. At one

point if not given a seat, my toddler would stand in front of some unfortunate

soul and say things like "I sit here", "too many people on the train", etc.

Thank god he is cute. Daycares charge $1/minute for being late, so keep that in

mind when making your decision.



We've been commuting from Park Slope to Trinity Preschool in lower Manhattan

since my daughter was 4.5 months (she is now almost 11 months). It's been

working for us and we love Trinity. I work in the financial district and my

husband works near Union Square. We take her to and from Trinity on the R

train. Feel free to email me offline and I will be happy to share my tips. I am

by no means an expert but we are really happy with our decision