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Our child is nearly 14 months old. In two weeks, we're planning to travel with him on an Amtrak train to visit the in-laws about 350 miles away.

This is our first time travelling on a train, and our plan originally was to have him ride in his stroller for the trip - but my co-workers have suggested that he may be required to be in a child car seat during the trip.

I've tried to find information on Amtrak's website regarding regulations, but all I can find is information in child traveler discounts.

What should I expect when traveling with a 1-year old on an Amtrak train?


To provide some more context - the trip is from Central New York to Southern Maryland - it's about 2 hours from Central New York to New York City, an hour layover, and about 3 hours from New York to our final destination. We're planning of course to bring food, snacks, water, diapers, and toys.

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  • You said the trip is about 350 miles away, but how long is that in minutes/hours? Whats the total amount of time the trip would take you?
    – Ilianna
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 14:09
  • @Ilianna Added this information.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 18:56
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    I've never been on Amtrak, but I have been with a 15 month old on a long distance London to Edinburgh here in the UK (332 miles). It is a long journey, but one of the advantages of a train is, like a flight during the cruising phase, you're pretty much free to wonder about and unlike driving you can interact/play with your child. There's substantially more space than a flight though and you're less likely to get in the way!
    – undershock
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 22:23
  • @undershock There is the issue with other passengers and the motion of the train possibly being a bit off-putting to the child, but hopefully we can just keep close to him and comfort him as need be.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 16:34
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    @Zibbobz There is also the possibility that motion of the train may lure your child to sleep. Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 17:42

2 Answers 2

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You very likely will not be able to keep your child in the stroller, and will be required to stow the stroller. I have not seen Amtrak trains with seat belts or a way to install a car seat.

For shorter trips, keeping your child on your lap is not too bad. 350 miles is probably a long ride, so keeping your infant in your lap the whole time might be a bit uncomfortable. You will probably do a mix of lap and floor or empty seat.

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I can not remember from traveling in Amtrak trains but here in Europe all children who are not buying a ticket, so those under 4 years of age, are expected to sit on the lap of the accompanying adult.
If there are free seats they can use those.

I have never seen a car seat being used in a train but have seen a maxi cosi on the train table, although I am not sure if the bottom of those are slippery.

Many kids sit between adults when the seat setup allows for that, even when there is officially no third seat.

If your child already walks use the fact of being in a train and allow some (or even quite a lot) of walking or even crawling if it is safe to do so. Certainly if the train is stopped between stations.

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  • I would be worried about them wandering into the space between the cars - on Amtrak trains, there's a push button to open the door so you can walk from one car to the next, and a gap that he could get his foot caught in if we're not careful.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 16:36
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    I did not say you should allow him to go off on his own, but a bit of walking under you eyes. I would not let a child that young wander out of sight in any train.
    – Willeke
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 17:32
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    I am accually now in a train where one of the other passengers is a toddler, traveling with two adults I assume his parents. The first 10 minutes on the train he has walked, hands hold by mum or dad, now he is happily sitting on a lap. In a while he might go for an other walk or fall asleep.
    – Willeke
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 9:33

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