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TRAVEL PSA – My Top 5 Tips to Keep Your Baby Safe in San Francisco

I had a post ready to go live today about how to channel your inner Donatella Versace wearing the most amazing black bodysuit I scored on Amazon for less than $13! But last night my sister sent me this San Francisco ABC Bay Area article about a woman walking in the Mission District Sunday night holding her 2-month-old daughter when a homeless woman attempted to kidnap her baby and rip her from her mother’s arms. I was almost shaking thinking about what she went through, especially on Mother’s Day.

I often meet people in Dallas who say they’d love to visit San Francisco for the first time. But if they have small children, I warn them. With vacation season in full swing and summer approaching, this post is TRAVEL WARNING for anyone heading to San Francisco with a baby or toddler. Please pass this post on to them.

To preface this blog post, I love San Francisco! The amazing restaurants, the personality of every neighborhood, and meeting my husband there makes it a special place for me.

After living in SF nearly 10 years before moving to Zürich, Switzerland for 3 years and now living in Dallas, Texas there are days I miss SF. I just hate it with babies which is why these photos are almost two years old, because after this day, I stopped bringing my oldest daughter on visits. It’s good for techies, bad for toddlers.

Quick shout-out to Philz Coffee! It helped me stay awake until 2 am every morning as I launched this blog and my small business, Savvy Sleepers satin pillowcases, after working all day at my tech day job in the China Basin building.

Anyone who has lived in SF has crazy stories about what they’ve seen, but sadly the streets seem to be filthier than ever. They were just compared to some of the dirtiest slums in the world. With a toddler and an 8-month-old, it’s a whole new ball game visiting the city now.

Some neighborhoods and streets are much better than others and I have plenty of friends making it work raising babies there, but I’m usually in SOMA and Union Square when I visit which is often where people visit or go to Giants games. Now, I avoid taking them to SF at all. Here are some WARNINGS I want to give other moms who live there or may be visiting SF soon…

First visit to Philz! Just after this ‘Greater Alarm‘ coffee date with my oldest daughter (now 3) and my husband in SOMA, we walked back on 4th Street. As we were approaching 4th and Folsom, I noticed a homeless woman screaming at construction cones and Karate kicking them into the street. She gave me eye-contact and started walking toward my stroller yelling and screaming.

I made a quick turn with my daughter strapped into the stroller on Folsom Street. I turned around and she  was following us screaming. I walked faster. She walked faster. She started get closer following us and yelling. My husband wasn’t sure what to do and walked closely behind like a bodyguard as we picked up the pace and I actually ran into the first office building I saw.

The security guard at the door let me in seeing I was panicked and told me to stay as long as we needed. The homeless woman stood about 20 feet away from the entrance screaming and yelling. The security guard said, ‘Yea, we know who she is. You just stay until she goes away,’ which she did after about 5 minutes. This type of scenario actually happened a few more times and now I avoid SF with our daughters to not risk their safety. Here are my Top 5 tips and advice if you’re traveling to SF with a baby soon…

1. DO NOT USE ELEVATORS ON PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION – I took Bart all the time when living in SF, and with my daughter in 2016 from SFO to downtown when she was less than year old. During one trip as I got off at Powell street with my luggage and stroller, I looked for the elevator. It was at the very end of the dark platform where no one was standing for at least 200 feet. I pushed the button and waited…and waited. Finally, it opened and I walked into the elevator covered in so many layers of urine and feces I felt nauseous. Just as the door was about to close, a large homeless man pushed his way in even though there wasn’t much room. The door shut. I immediately felt scared and helpless if anything were to go wrong. There was nothing I could have done and no one around to help if anything went wrong, thankfully nothing happened.

*Safety Tip – It may seem crazy with luggage and a stroller, but use escalators on Bart, especially if you’re alone with your baby. Use the escalators and maneuver the stroller so it’s in front of you safely holding it up, with your suitcase on the step below you. There are always crowds of people on escalators and it’s safer than the end of the platforms where the isolated elevators (aka public restrooms) are located. Update: Bart and Muni have ‘joined forces to keep station elevators from being public toilets.’ But I still don’t recommend using elevators.

2. AVOID LOOKING AT YOUR PHONE WALKING ON THE STREET – I have read too many posts on social media in the last couple years of friends or old coworkers and their friends who were randomly attacked, hit, or had their cell phones stolen while walking down the streets in SF texting. With a baby, I never walk down the streets of SF looking at my phone. *Safety Tip – Constantly look over your shoulder and ahead to scan who may be walking toward you. Stay off your phone so you don’t accidentally step on a used needle or pile of human feces. Be extra aware as we’ve had homeless people try to grab the stroller or food out of my hand walking in Union Square.

3. BE EXTREMELY AWARE OF THE HOMELESS COMMUNITY – Yes, it’s just part of San Francisco and for the most part they ignore you. But the aggressive ones really scare me, especially after a homeless woman pulled out my hair extensions as I was walking alone on Market Street 6 years ago. I’m always more cautious, and more than ever with a baby. *Try not to walk alone with your baby, especially in tourist areas and strollers seem to attract them because there aren’t a lot of infants in SF. I’ve crossed the street multiple times just to avoid someone who is screaming and acting aggressive. It’s not worth taking a risk of what happened in the opening story of this post.

(I’m on a group chat with my old neighbors in SF with photos that are often NSFW seen on the streets in SOMA. This is just an every day pic of the sidewalk with used needles and garbage.)

4. IT IS SO DIRTY! TAKE EXTRA PRECAUTIONS – I wrote a post last summer teasing how you need to fill your suitcase full of Purell when you visit SF, but it’s not really a joke. When your baby or toddler starts to walk and run, you don’t want them to touch the sidewalks of SF.

*Safety Tip – Avoid having your toddler walk on the sidewalks in SF (especially the tourist areas). If you have to stay in a hotel with a baby who may be crawling, immediately request extra sets of sheets and cover every possible square inch of the floor. Imagine what is on those carpets from the sidewalks? This recent NBC report about inhaling dried fecal matter on the streets of SF frightened me. Dr. Lee Riley, an infectious disease expert at University of California, Berkeley warns ‘that once fecal matter dries, it can become airborne, releasing potentially dangerous viruses, such as the rotavirus.’ “If you happen to inhale that, it can also go into your intestine,” he said. The results can prove fatal, especially in children.”NBC Bay Area

And about the needles. ‘“If you do get stuck with these disposed needles you can get HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and a variety of other viral diseases,” said Dr. Lee Riley in the NBC report.


5. IF YOU’RE RENTING A CAR, IT CAN BE A NIGHTMARE – Let’s not even talk about the Bay Area traffic. The worst part about having a car and staying in the city with a baby is you need to remove EVERYTHING, every day, and night or you will probably walk out in the morning to find a shattered window and need to shop for a new car seat. Bring in your baby’s stroller and car seat every time you plan to park your car on the street.

I hope these tips help and if you have any advice to add, please comment below to help keep parents and their young children safe who may be visiting the city for the first time! Versace post coming Tuesday. Until next time San Francisco…



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