Slightly unsteady on their feet, they tend to “toddle”. The American Academy of Pediatrics defines a “toddler” as a child between the ages of 2 and 3. Now that we have that settled, what is the meaning of “Toddler in lap”?
Creates the image of a two-year old peacefully snuggling in a parents’ lap, right? Well maybe. Or maybe this particular toddler has been walking for months and can run, fast, from one end of a railroad car to another. Or, it’s a hot day, and holding a toddler on your lap is just too uncomfortable. Or this toddler is feeling independent and insists on sitting in their own seat. Toddler life, as any parent can tell you, can be unpredictable. Toddler in lap may be more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule.
On a regularly scheduled excursion there is usually enough wiggle room that a few squirmy toddlers are no problem. Some railroads don’t charge (or charge a nominal fee) for “Toddler in lap” and don’t bother to count toddler tickets in inventory. Works great until. . . . the Easter Bunny, Dinosaurs, or Santa come to town. Themed excursions are typically in higher demand and kid-centered themed events will be full of KIDS. There may be one or two toddlers on every reservation! In order for everyone to have a place to sit and a good time, it is best on these excursions to count Toddlers in inventory and mark their seat SOLD.
We have seen railroads alternatively describe the ticket type “Babe in Arms”. This term rather unambiguously implies a non-walking child, a baby less than 1 year old, or an infant. A child this young, does not walk and must therefore be held and carried. And that brings up the topic of cars seats and strollers, which we will discuss on another post.