The Chainlink

My boy is 4 months old, and one of the first things I got for him was a trailer-style carrier so I can take him for rides. I just noticed that the trailer says not to take kids less than a year old, and that he needs to be able to hold his head up. He can definitely hold his head up, though maybe the added weight of a helmet might affect that, but I don't want to wait till next year to start riding with him if I don't have to.

So, parents, how long did you wait before taking the kid for a ride? Any recommendations for an infant's helment?

Thanks!

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Here's a blog about a local family who transports their kids by bike: http://chicargobike.blogspot.com/

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a short tip sheet about this, which says 1 year and head control:

http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pa...

Biking will be as much fun when your kiddo is older. There is plenty of time. Don't be in such a rush that you might possibly endanger your child by bouncing them around (like a shaken baby?) before they can safely manage it.

Once Kiddo has reached the right age, there are more considerations:

Consumer Reports suggests a trailer is safer than a rear seat, though reading their recommendation maybe that only applies out of traffic. I think trailers seem unsupervised and exposed in Chicago traffic, with or without a flag.

A cargo bike with a car seat firmly attached inside it and squashy tires is often mentioned as the safest thing for young children under the theory that if it's safe in a car it must be OK in a bike, but nobody I know of has compared the effect of bumpy bike vibrations with those of a (more shock absorbed and upholstered) car, I can't imagine how you could do the study ethically or reliably, and the bike doesn't offer the kind of crash protection that a ton of steel can. Having said that, the cargo bike is the option we used once our kids reached a year. 

When you decide Kiddo is old enough, note that some helmets intended for small children don't have the certification for infants. Nutcase didn't for a long time, for example, though I think they do now. Make sure the stickers show compliance for protection of a child in your Kiddo's age range. Why put up with the hassle if you don't get the safety you want with it?

Remember that kids get colder faster than grownups and they aren't pedaling (and generating exercise heat) when they are babies, so bundle them up in lots of layers to keep them happy when you do decide to ride. The most useful Chicargobike post might be this one about layering.

Congratulations on your new Kiddo!

As others have said, I'd think a solid year at least...more if you can hold off. They need to be able to hold their head with a helmet, along with taking some bumps. With the extra weight you could risk some neck injury if you rush it. My daughter is 15 months and I think she's old enough now so I'll be taking her on some rides when it warms up a little

Ditto Allen Wrench....We also loved our nice bobike baby seat. 

Though the cargobike is our fave, we did love the front bobike as you can chat with your small person while you ride. As many chainlink and bike families in Chicago know... we are not trailer lovers...you can put a great back seat onto even a folding bike and keep a mini person very close.  Dusty is closer to the reality of a baby than we are lately-- I have found with my three guys even on warmer days these winter weeks that the drivers are too kooky with winter nuttiness and the kids are not on the road with me at all.   J

I put my daughter's carseat into the trailer when she was under a year old, but it took some work.  The problem that you run into is that even trailers with suspension don't really have much in the way of shock absorption.  What I did was take some of the foam inserts from a box and fill the center cutout of it with an old pillow.  Then I put the carseat on top of that and lashed it to the frame in the trailer using bungie cords (to allow for some flex).  We then packed pillows and blankets around the sides to further pad and secure the whole thing.  Honestly, we only took her out 3 times or so, to breakfast and such.  She seemed to enjoy it, but I had a LOT of stress over every bump and car on the routes.  Not sure that I would do it again.

Although it is recommended to wait until at least a year old, we put our daughter on a rear seat when she was about 10 months old. She was big for her age (weight/height of a 1.5 year old) and I think it's important to take their size into account. Even though she was strong at that age, you could tell that any bumps in the road jostled her head pretty hard and bothered her. She would only tolerate about 15-20 minutes before she would start crying and we took it very slow. The last thing you want to do is push it and have them associate bike riding with pain/discomfort. I believe it about 4-6 months later that she enjoyed longer rides without any fuss. Also, we found that the trailer at that age is way more uncomfortable for the kids. Because the seats are usually a sling, they tend to slide down into the seat and slump over in them, and they don't have the strength to push themselves back into a comfortable position when the bike is moving. It's also difficult to see them and communicate when they are so low and far back behind you. We also went through a few different bike seats over the years and found the Yepp bike seat to be the most comfortable and secure for our kids. http://www.yepp.nl/uk/Home

If you really want to start riding with your baby way before they are a year old, I would agree with others who mentioned the cargo bike with baby seat in it as the only feasible option. I wouldn't put a car seat in a regular bike trailer...I don't think you could secure it well enough and it would be really bouncy.

We waited until our son was 6 months old. We strapped his car seat into a Burley trailer. Very secure. Pavement conditions were my biggest concern. He loved it.

Write up here

This is pretty much all I needed to know - I'm a little sad that I probably can't take him out this year (his birthday is in November, and unless we have a really nice November, I won't subject him to biking in the winter in Chicago), but at least I know I'm prepped and ready to go the following spring. Thanks also to everyone for the info about cargo bikes. One more thing to shop for!

Allen Wrench said:

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a short tip sheet about this, which says 1 year and head control:

http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pa...

I vaguely remember riding in a rear seat on my mom's ten-speed when I was maybe two or three.  I didn't like it at all, which is probably why I remember it.  It felt very unstable and I couldn't see anything, as opposed to riding in the front seat of her Beetle.

I think I would have loved something like the iBert, though.

I took my kid on the ibert on some trails when she was 10 months.  She was pretty strong and she was also able to nap.  

Whoops - my link to Chicargobike's layering info went nowhere. I think this is it: 

http://chicargobike.blogspot.com/2010/10/keeping-kids-comfortable-r...


This might add more info:

http://chicargobike.blogspot.com/search/label/Getting%20Kids%20Dres...


Allen Wrench said:

Remember that kids get colder faster than grownups and they aren't pedaling (and generating exercise heat) when they are babies, so bundle them up in lots of layers to keep them happy when you do decide to ride. The most useful Chicargobike post might be ...

My wife and I took our daughter for her first ride around the time she was around 15 months or so.  I would have felt pretty comfortable taking her for a ride at around the 1 year mark, but her birthday was in the winter, and we waited until spring to get started.  She hated the burley trailer, but she started to like the bike seat attached to the back of my wife's bike after a few trips.  

Getting her use to the helmet was the biggest challenge, and I definitely recommend getting your child use to a helmet by having him just wear it around the house a couple of times before taking him for his first ride.

If you're looking for a child seat, we like the Yepp maxi: http://www.rei.com/product/815613/yepp-maxi-rear-bicycle-child-carrier  You can lock it to the frame, so it's fairly hard to steal while you're out and about, and we found a rear seat still lets you talk and hear a toddler enough that you stay more connected to what is going on than you would if he/she was in a trailer.     

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