Baby Bike Safety 101

How to make bicycling with baby safe and fun

Taking your baby out for a walk in a stroller is nice, but it's really fun to take a bike ride together, whether you're an expert cyclist or a fan of the occasional leisurely weekend bike ride, but there are a few safety tips to take into consideration before you head out. Familiarize yourself with these cycling safety tips to make your bike ride with baby safe, fun and memorable.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics. "Baby On Board: Keeping Safe on a Bike." 12/3/2015.

Don't Bike With Babies Under a Year Old

Mother pushing daughter on tricycle in city. Getty/Taxi/Evan Kafka

If you're an avid cycler who's hoping to get your little one out for a ride as soon as possible, brace yourself: health and safety experts and manufacturers recommend waiting until your baby is at least one year old and can wear a properly fitting helmet. Even if your child is of age, finding a helmet for such a tiny head is exceptionally difficult.

Explore the joys of the pushable tricycle. It's much safer than bringing baby on bike rides with you. I recommend the Smartrike 4-in-1 (check out this Smart Trike 3-in-1 Tricycle Review to learn why). It's a great tricycle that grows with your baby.

Always Wear a Helmet

children with helmets
Helmets and harnesses improve safety in bicycle trailers. Chevrette

Whether your little one is in a bike seat, a pull-behind trailer or on their own cycle, make sure he or she is wearing a helmet. Bike helmets should be worn by riders of all ages, not just children, so be sure to model that principle for your child.

When choosing a helmet, be sure it meets Snell, ANSI or CPSC safety regulations. You should also take your child to a bike shop to get properly fitted for a helmet. It's difficult to find the right size, but a professional can help.

Trailer or Seat?

mother and child cycling
Mother strapping child in car seat on bicycle. Getty/Stockbyte/altrendo images

Bike trailer or bike seat? A bike trailer, like the InStep Sync, is considered a safer option given its greater stability. It's definitely more expensive than an attachable bike seat, but it has a good resale value and it doubles as storage for items like groceries and other cargo. Bike seats aren't necessarily "dangerous," but they are prone to toppling over. Still, they're a very popular accessory. Mount a seat to the front or back of the bike. This Schwinn bike seat is a good quality option.

Choose a Supportive Seat

girl wearing helmet
Girl wearing a helmet on a bicycle child seat. Getty/Photolibrary/Credit: Graham Monro

If you opt for a bike seat, make sure it has a tall enough back to support the full height of your baby. A quality harness and lap belt are also necessary. Look for models with spoke guards to keep your baby's legs safe.

As for the front mount versus back mount debate, there are conflicting recommendations. Some experts recommend a front mounted seat because it allows for more interaction with baby; others believe that, in the event of an accident, a front mount can cause serious harm to the child. Whichever style you choose, just make sure it meets safety standards.

Use Reflectors

bike reflectors
Bycicle reflectors can be attached to trailers for evening rides. Getty/Science Photo Library

If you're inclined to take your baby for a few laps around the neighborhood after dark - maybe cycling stops their crying - take proper safety precautions. Make sure there are reflectors on all of your equipment to make yourselves visible. Baby trikes rarely have reflectors and are meant for daytime excursions only.

Adults Only

Family on bikes.
Family on bikes. Getty/Moment/John Carleton

This is an obvious statement, but it needs to be said: Only adults should be towing a baby. Even older, mature teens may not have the ability to maneuver and react as quickly as they might need to. Furthermore, an additional passenger, even if it's a baby, increases the time needed to come to a complete stop.

It's best to keep wee passengers with adult cyclists.

Choose Your Route Wisely

Family on bikes looking at map
Family on bikes looking at map. Getty/The Image Bank/Peter Cade

When you're biking alone, you might not care where you wind up, but when you've got a baby along for the ride, you need to alter your route. Bike trails, quiet neighborhood streets and parks are all low-traffic, low-stress cycling environments. Avoid main roads and busy streets. Keep in mind that this isn't only about safety: loud traffic might overwhelm your baby.

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