Riding parents love their babies and love their bicycles, so it is natural to want to put the two together. Generally before the child is born parents will be thinking about how much fun it will be to go riding as a family. As a Mum at home with a baby the ability to jump on a bike and get around town opens up a whole lot of possiblities and is nothing short of liberating. As your family grows the fun and adventure that can be had because you are travelling by bike through your community will bring smiles and great memories for everyone.
The choices these days for carrying your infant on a bike are comprehensive. If you can think of a scenario chances are someone has designed something that will fit it. From trailers to child seats, to backpacks, to front and back cargo bikes parents all over the world are riding with infants.
When is it safe to take a baby on a bike? The rule is in their ‘1 year old’ year. When within in this time will depend on the development and size of the baby as well parent parent confidence and comfort.
Here are some things that will influence and determine your decision.
They must wear a Bike Helmet
In New Zealand it is law to wear a helmet on a bike. Therefore you cannot have a baby on the bike until you can find a helmet that will fit correctly and is not too heavy (see below for some tips). The Helmet should meet are correct fit and size guidelines and the baby must be able to support the combined weight of the head and helmet
Tips for buying your childs first bike helmet;
- Size – for a child around 1 year of age you will need a 45-50cm helmet. Measure with a tape one finger width above the eyebrows or use a piece of string then lay it along a ruler.
- Coverage – seek out a helmet that covers as much of the head as possible therefore protecting more of it
- Weight – the less the better. There are helmets out there that weigh as little as 185 grams, try to find one but don’t comprise with too little coverage.
- Adjustment – it must have a sizing system for you to adjust it to a perfect fit.
- Heat & Care – Ventilation is good for summer so they don’t get too hot. Washable pads are also good
The biggest determining factor for getting a baby on a bike in New Zealand is having a helmet that fits well and they can safely wear. Apply the low, level, snug and stable rule .See How to Size & Fit a Kids Bike Helmet & Kids Bike Helmet Buying Guide
They must be able to sit unsupported
Children are just learning to sit unsupported at about 9 months of age. Until this age, infants have not developed sufficient bone mass and muscle tone to enable them to sit unsupported with their backs straight. Pediatricians advise against having infants sitting in a slumped or curled position for prolonged periods. This position may even be exacerbated by the added weight of a bicycle helmet on the infant’s head.” The US Consumer Product Safety Commission
Choosing where you will ride?
Remember biking feels different with a baby on board. You are responsible for this precious cargo. You have additional load on the bike. Your balance will be affected due to the increased load and having to work around a bike seat…whether its it in the front or the rear.
Always safety first. Start with wide smooth bikepath trails…away from traffic. Progress as your confidence allows. Avoid excessive bumpy trail in teh early days -you don’t want to expose your baby to excess vibration or bumps and jostling.
Rider ability and confidence on a bike
Ability & Bike: are you a confident rider? Do you believe in your own ability to ride defensively? Where will a seat fit on your bike? Could you manage extra weight on the front or the back of your bike? How will this effect your balance?
Practice: One of the keys to enjoying your time out on the bike is to practice in a safe environment before you do it for the first time and to think through some scenarios. How will you stablise the bike as you are putting your child into a seat/trailer? This means having a really good kickstand or understanding how to safely lean your bike against a wall – use your seat not the end of the handlebars! Do you have gears so that starting at intersections isn’t too difficult with the added weight of your child. This one means changing into an easy gear before you stop so that you are prepared when you go again.
Riding with a 1 year old?
Learn what are your options for riding with a 1 year old,
Your baby will be sitting on the bike while you do the work so it is vitally important to make sure they are kept comfortable while you ride.