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Biking with baby
You can take your child along on a bike ride—just remember some important safety considerations.
Biking is great exercise, a fun way to enjoy the outdoors and a cheap way to get around.
But biking with a baby on board requires special skills and precautions. Here's a look at some of the things you need to know before you take your child on his or her first ride.
Biking through the ages
Guidelines for safety vary by age. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), infants younger than 12 months are too young to be brought along on bike rides.
Infants do not have the neck or muscle strength to sit up well by themselves—and pediatricians generally advise against leaving infants in a slumped or curled position for long periods. And though helmets are an essential piece of bike safety equipment, even light helmets may be too heavy for undeveloped muscles.
Starting at about 1 year old, children may be strong enough to sit unsupported and should wear a lightweight helmet while riding in a bike seat or trailer, according to the AAP. But ask for advice from your baby's doctor because every child develops at a different pace.
Types of carriers
It's important to choose the appropriate bike carrier for your child. That means choosing between a pull-along trailer or a bike-mounted seat. Never carry a child on a bike in a backpack, front pack or baby sling, according to the AAP.
Pull-along trailers. The AAP recommends bicycle-towed child trailers over bike seats.
One benefit of trailers is that they are more stable than child bike seats. If an accident happens, the child has less distance to fall. Some trailers are also designed with an attachment that prevents tipping, even if the bicycle is laid on the ground.
Bike-mounted seats. Bike seats are typically suitable for children ages 1 to 4 years.
The AAP offers the following tips for using a bike-mounted seat:
- Securely attach the seat to the bike.
- Make sure the seat has a high back.
- Check for a sturdy shoulder harness and lap belt that will support a sleeping child.
- Make sure the seat has spoke guards to keep feet and hands from wheels.
Whether you use a bike seat or a bike trailer to transport your child, having the child with you will change how the bike handles. Be aware that having a child on a bike:
- Makes the bike unsteady.
- Increases braking time.
- Increases the risk of serious injury to you and your child.
To reduce injuries, always wear a helmet yourself and put an approved, child-size one on your child too.