One year is the common rule to abide by. However, a lot of it depends on factors like how big/strong your baby is, how they are riding, and where you ride. The real issue is head/neck safety. If you want to err on the side of safety, waiting until they are one is the safest way to go.
Outside of hard line rules, as a parent first and a bike attorney second, it has always occurred to me that there are a number of factors at play other than a simple "one size fits all" approach of drawing a line on the age of 12 months. Obviously being in a trailer on a paved bike path isn't that far off being in a car seat. However, riding upright in an attached seat with a helmet on in a city bike lane is very different.
I have a four month old and she is far from going on rides with me. The other two kids both regularly went in the jog stroller on runs on paved sidewalks not much past 6 months and were both going on rides in the Burley before they were one. But they both grew fast and are the top percentile for height/weight for their ages so I really wasn't that concerned as to them specifically.
If I were you I would ask your kid's pediatrician when they think YOUR kid is ready to go. Make sure you explain to the pediatrician the riding set up for your kid and where you will be riding. Again, there are many factors at play. Good luck and Ride Safe! -Mike Keating
We put our son in a trailer at ten months. He could hold his head up very well at that point.
We practiced having him wear the helmet a lot starting at about eight months to get him prepared.
We had friends that put the helmet on their daughter and put her in a trailer at the same time. She kept taking the helmet off and it took some time before she would wear the helmet in the trailer.
I would take my helmet and his helmet and sit on the floor with him. I'd put his helmet in front of him and mine in front of me and just touch them. We did this every couple of days for a couple of weeks. Then I started putting my helmet on me and his on him (not strapped, just on).
It was only for short periods of time (two-minutes) but it really helped him get used to it. The last couple of weeks we started strapping it on and fitting it.
When he finally got into the trailer, he was comfortable wearing the helmet.
We made sure to take it easy at first...residential streets and trails, slower speeds.
There is lots of good advice and links here, hope you find what you need to have a great ride with your kid!
Ethan Spotts, Active Trans
Yehaa! Finally road in the sun today!!
We've had our daughter in our Bakfiets Cargo Bike since she was 2 months old. We had her car seat base bolted into the bottom of the box and the car seat securely attached to it, just like it would be in a car. She loved it, we loved it. It's truly been a blast and now she's 13 months and sitting upright in the bike bench. She gets visibly excited just at the sight of her helmet and squeals with glee while we ride which provides me with some of my most proud parent moments.
The suspension on this bike is pretty impressive and I was never concerned about the severity of the bouncy ride on her frajeeelay neck. When you ride with a baby, you tend to be super defensive and cautious when you ride. Speed is also not a priority. I find that people give me a LOT of room when they pass me and are usually smiling like crazy when they pass.
Not to knock the trailer option, but it's an option that makes me a little nervous. I just like to be able to see my child while I ride. Be sure that you have a very visible flag that helps drivers see the trailer. Someone driving an SUV won't see your trailer as you pass unless you have something like that. As for affixing a car seat to the trailer - that seems super unsafe to me.
I totally know you are fiending for a bike ride with your baby, but it will only be enjoyable if you feel super confident that he is safely attached. If you're interested in finding out more about cargo bikes and other baby carrying options - you should check out the Roscoe Village Kidical Mass and Cargo Bike Roll Call event this Sunday! More info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/715763901796682/
My wife and I had a long conversation with our pediatrician for our son. The doctor said absolutely no riding, whether trailered or in a seat on the back, until at least one year. My little dude was walking around 11 months, but could stand with assistance around 5 or 6 months, so he always had great head control. The doctor said that despite all that, if something were to happen (crash, lose control, flip the trailer, so on) that he could potentially break his neck from the jarring. Plus you need to figure the added weight of the helmet is a lot to a small child (which I didn't realize till after he said it).
However my little dude has always been about my bikes and we went for a spin around the block last weekend. He was excited but it was a little chilly and he didn't take too well to it, despite only being outside for a few minutes. But he is 19 months now and a solid brick crap house, so we will be spending time outside this summer since my wife is about to pop with our second boy. So that means daddy and son go get dirty, and mamma and the new baby get to rest.
But I stuck with my doc's recommendations and glad we did. The helmet is a little ungainly now despite him being old and strong enough to handle it physically.