A mom's guide to biking with babies
It can be challenging to get around town with a baby on a bike. Here's what works for my family.
Whenever I want to go for a bike ride, there are three little people who must go, too. This leads to obvious logistical challenges, so I’ve done some experimenting over the past few years, while they grow and learn, to figure out the best way to get us all around town.
The most well-used piece of biking equipment is our old two-seat Schwinn trailer – a Canadian Tire classic that retails for $330 but someone gave me for free. Supposedly it can be converted into a stroller, but I never received those parts, so we use it just for biking. There is a metal coupler that goes permanently on my bike, making it very easy to take the trailer on and off; however, I wish we’d purchased another coupler to install on my husband’s bike, so he could haul the trailer without us having to switch bikes.
The trailer fits 1 or 2 kids, with a confusing mess of seat restraint belts, and it can get pretty heavy if you’ve got two kids in the back. There’s a spacious ‘trunk’ behind the seat, where you can stash loads of stuff – perfect for our trips to the beach and to the grocery store. The trailer comes with a bug screen and a rain shield, both of which can be rolled away.
I’ve noticed that the trailer is better suited to slightly older kids. I waited until my babies were all 12 months old before starting to ride with them, but I found that whenever they leaned against the backrest, it would push their helmets down over their faces and make them scream. I always had to stop and pull up their helmets, which was frustrating. Not until they turned two and were able to adjust their own helmets did it become fun. Also, if there’s only one kid in the back, sleeping is not comfortable.
© K Martinko - Baby doesn't seem to mind, but it certainly doesn't look comfortable.
Finally, since our town is not bike-friendly, the street intersections do not recognize when there’s a cyclist waiting at a red light. This means I have to hop up on the sidewalk to press the pedestrian button, which is very challenging with a loaded trailer. Knowing I’ve got the trailer affects which route I take.
A friend passed on a Wee-Ride Kangaroo Center Mounted Child Bicycle Carrier ($99). This cute little seat perches in front of mine, tucked behind the handlebars, with a cushioned dashboard for the child to hold and sleep on, hard plastic foot cups, and a low-rise seat with 5-point harness restraint. Initially I was concerned it would feel dangerous having him in front, but that’s not the case; it’s very secure. The Wee-Ride is rated for up to 40 lbs and approximately 4 years of age.
My 16-month-old baby loves the Wee-Ride seat. In contrast to the trailer, which he protested vigorously whenever I installed him in it, he can’t wait to get in the Wee-Ride. He loves being up high where he can see everything and we’ve had no more problems with his helmet. He falls asleep on longer rides, facedown on the dashboard, and looks more comfortable than when he’s in the trailer.
One thing I don’t like is having to adjust my pedaling style. My knees go out to the side ever so slightly to accommodate the seat, which doesn’t matter for short rides but gets annoying if I’m traveling several kilometers. The Wee-Ride is removable, thanks to a handy screw that can be tightened with your fingers, but the mounting bar stays on bike. This adds weight, but is a minor issue for a casual cyclist like myself.
Do you bike with babies or small children? What are your preferred methods for doing so?