Baby on BOard
27 Mar

Join my “Baby on Board” experiment

I’m doing a little social experiment. I’ve always heard pregnant women complain that people can be less than accommodating when it comes to giving up their seat on public transport. So I thought I’d catalogue my experiences with it and report back at the end of my pregnancy.

A lot of people don’t know this, but, at most tube stations, you can get a little button to wear on your coat that reads “Baby on Board”. It’s London Transport’s well-meaning, but little publicised campaign for helping preggos get seats. I picked one up with glee one day early on in my pregnancy and pinned it proudly to my lapel. Let the experiment begin.

The only problem is that I work 10 minutes’ walk from my house and I’m rarely on the tube or bus at the right times. In the past few months, I’ve only been able to make six entries into my logbook. So, I’m looking for other mums-to-be to get in on the action.

These are the rules of engagement:

  1. You must wear the badge clearly on your coat and stand where many can see it.
  2. You cannot ask for a seat. Although a stranger is allowed to ask for you, but only of their own volition.
  3. You may stand there with your hand on your bump and do your best “no room at the inn” face.
  4. After each journey, record in a logbook: a) the time and the tube line/bus route, b) whether anyone gave you a seat and c) if you were given a seat, record the sex and approximate age of the giver, as well as any other notes you feel are pertinent and d) how many weeks you are at the time.

If you’d like to join me in my Baby on Board experiment, please email me. I’d love to get as many women involved as possible.

[Photo credit: Roger Derbyshire, a.k.a. my father-in-law]



  1. 04 Apr

    cara @ lillian and leonard

    I discovered that only men give up their seats for pregnant women. And they’re usually very young men. It was quite the surprise.

  2. 04 Apr


    I personally don’t see the point of the ‘Baby on Board’ badge. If they can’t see the bump, they’re not going to see the badge either, in my opinion.

    I’m 29 weeks pregnant, take the tube every day during rush hour, and have been offered a seat most of the time since I was 19 weeks or so (and consensus is that my bump has been on the small side until very recently…)
    I have found that in the earlier weeks, women were much more likely to offer me a seat, but that was in the awkward “is she pregnant or is she just fat?” stage. The men were probably too scared in case I was the latter!

    Recently however I don’t notice a gender difference. However most people who offer a seat tend to be in their 30s or 40s (but not always), and I’ve yet to be offered a seat by someone who was overweight.

    I am offered a seat on the London Overground line 100% of the time. I almost always get a seat (80-90% of the time) on the Central and Jubilee lines. The worst line is the Hammersmith & City – however it tends to be overcrowded and I’m probably not noticed during the two stops I’m on!

  3. 05 Apr


    My sister in law has been using her baby on board badge. Before her bump was really showing, but when she was suffering with morning sickness and dizziness, she asked someone (a man about her age – 30ish) for his seat as she felt faint. His response – if you aren’t well enough to go on the tube, you aren’t well enough to go to work. No you can’t have my seat.

    She’s since bought a car and started to driving to work to avoid the stress.

  4. 05 Apr


    I get the tube everyday to WEDDING mag and I LOVE my baby on board badge. Another girl at work refused to wear one- she said it was obvious she was pregnant… except with a coat it wasnt. The average stranger is too scared to offer a seat. So even at 8 months she hardly ever got offered a seat.

    Im slim and my bump is obvious – i get offered a seat pretty much everyday when i wear my badge- I have forgotten it when wearing a different coat a couple of times – result: no seat offered. Ill start making a log now for you… but Ive found the men of london to be most generous… some women have deliberately pushed their way onto the tube to get a seat in front of me- after standing next to me on the platform and spotting im pregnant.

    Odd fact is I get offered a seat on the tube about 90% of the time but rarely on buses even when people see my bump and badge… bus users clearly arent as generous for some reason!?

  5. 07 Apr


    Hi, Julia! So glad you’re joining the experiment :o )

  6. 04 Sep


    I have been wearing the badge for a few weeks now as feel very faint and sick when i’m on a tube. Yesterday was very bad as the para Olympics were on and people were back at school. It amases me the number of people who se you wearing the badge and look around hoping someone else will get up! I am working from home today as I was so ill after my journey to work yesterday I was sick most of the day! I have decided to ask for a seat now as the chances of me throwing up or passing out on someone are too high!

  7. 29 Jan


    Hi Julia, I’m not pregnant but considering getting the baby on board badge. Why? Because at 32 I have a slipped disk and actually need a seat. However, due to my young looks people won’t give up their seats even with my worst “I can’t stand any longer, my back is killing me” face or even when I sit on the floor!
    I once tried to take a seat and a man tried to rush/push trough and was shouting at me because he was so surprrised I needed the seat. He got off 2 stops later!
    This also means I’m one of those people looking around for someone else to get up for pregnant women, because I’d like them to get a seat but I unfortunately am unable to give up mine.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is your experiment is more complex than you think. Nowadays people get all sorts of injuries and illnesses at a younger than you’d think age which makes a lot of us unable to stand for long periods of time.
    On the other hand, I have witnessed clearly pregnant ladies (maybe 8 months) refusing seats offered by a fellow passengers. Go figure…

  8. 29 Jan


    Forgot to say, the way buses are driven, no wonder people won’t give up a seat! With the sudden starts stops and turns everyone needs a seat on the bus!

  9. 29 Jan

    Julia from ICAWatermelon

    Hello, Danae,

    Thank you for your comments! Yes, you are right. It’s a very imperfect system. They should make “Injury on Board” buttons too!!! In the meantime, I think you’d be justified to get the BoB one – it’s not like they ask to see your scans ;o)


  10. 16 Apr


    I can’t wait to join in the experiment. Have been trying to get a baby on board badge for the past 5 wks. I have had a really problematic pregnancy and it is not visable yet. I emailed tfl today for a badge. I will be joining you next week. I was tempted to get iron on transfers made and have them put on baggy vests as I don’t know how I am going to cope 120 mins standing up on a train everyday!

  11. 22 Apr


    I was given a badge a couple of years ago by a colleague who said “you’ll be needing this next”. I’m only 8 weeks at the moment and not sure if it’s to early to start wearing it? I’m stuck on a packed train from Putney to Waterloo every morning and would be delighted to get a seat as I always feel awful in the morning.

  12. 22 Apr

    Julia from ICAWatermelon

    Definitely start wearing it! And people need you to wear it because, if you don’t have a bump, they won’t know to give you a seat (sometimes, even when you do have the bump they have internal arguments about whether you are pregnant or overweight and they will err on the side of overweight ;o). The first trimester is so tiring (among other things). Good luck and get that badge on! Jx

  13. 27 Jun


    So far I’ve been really lucky as I feel largely fine, so although I’m 5 months pregnant and commuting on the Tube, I haven’t had to get the badge on. Not one person has actually offered me their seat though (I am 40 – maybe they think I’m too old to be pregnant?!) – so can see why you might need to wear it if you feel rubbish. DH has suggested a more direct approach: a Give Me Your F***ing seat badge – as this could be more suitable for the general level of manners on the Tube!!

  14. 04 Jul


    I started wearing the badge, hoping to stop people barging in to me walking into my office in the city. It hasn’t worked, men predominately and some women are still happy to barge into a pregnant lady. I also get a commuter train to work everyday and so far no luck on getting a seat and also… They are seemingly reluctant to move their bags off any spare seats! I had always previously moved out of the way for pregnant people but it seems I must have been in the minority..

  15. 25 Feb


    I’m 5 months pregnant and enquired at Canary Wharf station for a baby on board badge. I was told quiet rudely by the assistant at the ticket office that they ‘no longer do them ‘. I asked what am I supposed to do then, sharp as a knife his reply was ’make one yourself’.

  16. 25 Feb

    Julia from ICAWatermelon

    Reena, that’s horrible! I’m sorry to hear that they’ve cut back on making those badges. I think they are actually quite important. And if you make one yourself, it isn’t really as recognisable as an official badge. Obviously the ticket person hasn’t experienced pregnancy! Jx

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