Biking with Kids: Baby Seats

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This weekend was another first for me – biking with kids. Our day of biking involved two adults and two little girls, ages 8 and 5. The youngest was still a novice biker and a bit unpredictable in terms of her response to cars so we opted to put her in a child seat.

lucy

I would venture to guess that many people have no fear using a baby seat, but in the shop I have encountered a number of concernedparents. Their fears typically revolve around handling the bike with a child on board and general fear of having a baby with you in traffic.

After helping lots of parents load their children into a seat and, now, having carted one around myself, here are some tips that I’d recommend when it comes to baby seats. If you have any tips or hints of your own – please share them in the comments!

Make sure the bike is the right height for you, if not just slightly lower. This is partly for security and partly for peace of mind. When you stop and start, you want to have solid footing so you can keep the bike upright. You also want to take into consideration the fact that you’ll have to mount your bike over the middle – to avoid an accidental roundhouse kick to your child’s face.

kickstand

Load the child last. Take care of the other details such loading up your basket or putting on your helmets before putting the child in the baby seat. If you’re constantly worried about the bike falling over while you load up, look into installing a double stand (such as the one Yuba sells).

Make sure straps are tight and everything is secured. There were a few times some wandering feet made their way to my backside. Also, a child whose torso is not secured can lead to some shifting weight that can throw off your balance.

Engage the child. My little passenger was antsy and wanted to be on her own bike (I don’t blame her). I taught her how to signal and we talked about the decisions I was making in traffic – all preparing her for when she’ll be in the street on her own some day. She would signal with me whenever we were turning and would call out cars and directions to the rest of the group.

Follow the rules of the road. As usual, do what you can to be a respectful, predictable vehicle on the road, especially now that your cargo is even more precious.

Biking with kids definitely means there is more to think about before you ride. Although I’ve always had respect for the parents who do it, I have a whole new level of appreciation.

Do any parents out there have any recommendations/suggestions/questions about using a baby seat? How about the baby seats that mount to the front of the bike?

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