March 6, 2019
Every New York parent's nightmare came true Tuesday when a baby boy ended up riding the subway alone during rush hour in Manhattan. According to NBC4, the one-year-old child was left in his stroller after his caretaker suffered a medical episode and was somehow separated from the infant at 96th Street on the Upper West Side.
After riding 60 blocks by himself, the boy was recovered unharmed at Penn Station and eventually reunited with his mother. The male caretaker, who has been identified only as a friend of the family's, was questioned by police and released without any charges. Due to privacy laws, authorities were not able to disclose any information about the medical condition that led to caretaker's episode.
Thankfully, this little boy is expected to be OK, but the whole experience was undoubtedly upsetting for his mom. It also just goes to show that no one plans for a child to get lost, but it happens.
So what can parents do just in case they find themselves unexpectedly separated from their kids? It's harder with an infant, obviously, but experts say it's a good idea to put your cellphone number in writing.
"I've seen parents write their number on the tongue of a shoe, a piece of paper, or on a cheap lanyard kids can tuck into their shirt," John W. Fussner, a theme-park security consultant who has worked with dozens of amusement parks, previously told Parents.com. "It's a big help for us when we have a lost kid."
You can also teach your kids what to do if they do get lost. Most safety information on this is geared towards children ages five and up, but experts agree you should talk to your preschooler about safety, too.
Begin by teaching your child to stay where they are (rather than wandering in search of you) and to yell your real name (not just "Mom" or "Dad"). When they're slightly older, they can learn to ask police officers or store clerks for help, but until then, you can teach them to approach another mom with kids.
"Statistically, a mother with children is the safest bet for your kid," Samantha Wilson, a former police officer turned child safety activist, told Parents.com. "Women will generally commit more time to helping your child because men are afraid that if they help they'll be targeted as a predator."
Talk to your kids about strangers and safety, and lastly, try and stay aware of your surroundings so you can spot if someone else's child is lost right underneath your nose. If something seems fishy—like a baby riding the subway alone—take a closer look and see if you can step in to help. It really does take a village.
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