Baby Bike Seats
Bicycling with a baby can be a lesson in balance and skill. A baby mounted in a baby bike seat on your bike can change how the bike handles and create instability—especially if you are not a frequent rider. Bicycles are naturally unstable and adding a baby bike seat decreases stability even more. The added weight can shift unpredictably, especially if your baby weighs more than 40 pounds. You must be secure in your ability to manage your bike with a baby on board before adding a bicycle seat into the mix.
All babies must be at least one year old and able to support their head. All babies riding on a bicycle must wear a helmet, so it is important that your baby has developed neck strength before even attempting to bring them for a ride. Bike seats generally tend to work well for babies and toddlers aged one to three years old. Some experts may say the maximum weight for a bike seat is 33 - 44 pounds. In most cases, your baby will probably be too long before they get too heavy.
Bike seats are available as front-mounted or rear-mounted seats. It is not known which seat is safer, but the rear-mounted seat is still the most popular. Many parents who use a saddle pack may be used to the extra weight and different balance in the rear. Some parents may prefer the rear-mounted seats because they are usually larger than front-mounted seats and have higher backs. Rear mounted baby bike seats tend to make a bike rear- and top-heavy, which can cause it to tip when the rider mounts, dismounts, comes to a full stop, or pushes the bike. Your baby's head is also easily swung from side to side in a rear-mounted seat, especially if the rider must pedal hard up hill or from a standing position.
Front-mounted seats are preferred by some parents for the ability to communicate and see your baby at all times. Some may say this is a hazard as the rider may focus too much attention on the baby sitting in front of them and neglect the road. Front-mounted bike seats can also make steering cumbersome, making it difficult to turn. Front-mounted bike seats may also prevent the rider from bringing their knees and legs up as high as required for optimal strength and push when pedaling. Some parents dislike that the baby riding in the bike seat is directly in the path of a head-on collision.
The greatest risk with baby bike seats is the weight distribution on the bike and the increased risk of the bike tipping over when the rider mounts or dismounts the bike. This is a risk for both rear- and front-mounted bike seats, however.When choosing and using a baby bike seat:
- Make sure the bike seat meets all current safety standards.
- Make sure the seat has spoke guards, safety belts, and adequate padding to keep your baby protected and secured.
- Follow the manufacturers' instructions to properly install the bike seat to your bike. A bike seat must be properly and securely fitted to the frame in order to be safe for your baby.
- Never let your baby bring blankets or toys on the bike that could get caught in the spokes or other moving parts.
- Keep your baby's ride in a baby bike seat as safe and fun as possible!