Cycling with Newborns

Ready to Ride

I know some parents might GASP at just that title. I started cycling with my newborn a few weeks ago (around 8 weeks old).  The neighbors give looks like I’m crazy but I don’t see the problem. He is tucked tighter than a burrito in a device called an infant sling, enclosed in a full suspension Chariot Child Carrier that retails for more than our SUV is worth, it’s hooked to my 60 pound cruiser so I’m not going anywhere fast and we stick to the smooth bike paths or roads.  I see little difference in pulling him behind my bike vs.walking with him. I also think about my friends that live 10 miles out of town on a very bumpy road filled with pot holes and deep ridges. They drive that at least 2 times a day. Those little heads have gotten jostled around for years, even in a car seat, and they all turned out fine.

But, the Chariot infant sling clearly says in big bold letters “Do not use with the cycling kit, serious injury or death may occur.” You would think somebody with enough money to buy a Chariot could make an informed decision, but I guess not.

That said,  newborns are bobble heads. Their heads are much bigger than their bodies and their neck muscles are not fully developed yet. You do not want them shaken around and they can’t communicate like a toddler can if their uncomfortable. It’s probably best to wait at least 3-6 months, but if you’re impatient like me here are some thoughts on minimizing risks.

  • Make sure they have body and head support. I feel the infant sling does a great job at keeping him in place. You could also install a car seat in a Chariot or Burly trailer. I have heard of parents installing the base and then just clicking in the car seat when they go for a ride.
  • Don’t attempt to put a helmet on them. I know helmets are a US safety standard for cycling,  but not for babies. Helmets add weight to the babies head and pushes the head forward. You also have straps to worry about.
  • Stay on smooth paths and roads.
  • Stay away from a lot of traffic, both bike and car. We live in a small town so I don’t have to worry about this one.
  • Invest in a good trailer with a suspension system. We have the Chariot CX1.

Family Ride

What are your thoughts on cycling with a baby?  Am I a selfish, crazy parent obsessed with my bike?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*In the spirit of honesty the Chariot links are to our online store. We offer a 20% discount on all Chariot products with free shipping with code VeloMom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    Some of my earliest memories are of riding in those plastic molded seats behind my mom as she rode her cruiser (which she still has) around the streets of San Francisco…uh oh, feel a blog post coming on.

  2. says

    I think your precautions are very sensible, and the notion that pulling a baby in a trailer somehow inherently subjects them to more vibrations than a bumpy car or stroller ride is very silly. My first-born was riding in a car-seat in our cargo bike when he was 7 weeks old, number two (coming in July) will likely start even sooner, as we don’t own a car and will need to get out and about!

    Also, regarding selfishness– I find this trope about selfish mothers is really common right now, and I think it disregards the real risks of post-partum depression for both mother and baby. If time on the bike with your little one helps keep YOU sane, happy, and connected, AND you are taking reasonable precautions for the baby’s safety, then no further justification is required.

  3. says

    Awesome!
    I still got comments after waiting until 9 months for our youngest. Now everyone wants to put in their 2 cents re: us allowing our kids to ride on the road with us. Incredible that people think we would ever put our kids in danger. Well done showing that if you’re educated and well researched you can take kids on bikes safely :)

  4. says

    We’re looking at trailers as we await baby’s arrival. I would like to begin cycling with baby somewhere in the 2-3 month-old range, which sounds like what you did.

    I would most likely use the trailer with a car seat. I’m just hesitant to invest the money in a nice trailer with suspension system because I’m not sure whether or not we would like the trailer or end up using it that much. However, we use our bikes for a majority of our transportation needs now, and I would like to resume that as soon as possible after baby’s birth.

    In our case, we live in a apartment with no garage, so our bike storage is in the basement. This means that we will have to detach/attach the trailer every time we use it, and carry it up and down the stairs in addition to the bicycle.

    My questions: Will a trailer be awkward/unwieldy? Would we be better off waiting until baby is big enough to sit in some kind of front or rear mounted child seat instead of buying a trailer to possibly only use it for a few months?

    • says

      Good questions. Trailers are heavy and pretty large but the min age for seats is usually 10-12 months. Seems like a long time to wait if you are use to biking everywhere. I think you can get a cheap bike trailer new for less than $200 or probably less used. If you do buy a Chariot you can sell it back on Craiglist or ebay for most of what you paid. They are in demand and people want to save a few bucks buying a gently used one. For front seat check out iBert. I also saw these seats at Interbike from Europe. I’m going to order for the bike shop. They are called Yepp. They say you can start at 6 months with these but I have not verified. I will post on it after I try it with my son. http://www.hollandbikes.com/bicycle-child-seat-yepp-mini-en.htm

  5. Heather Phillips says

    I have a triobike that I started riding with my son at 14months. We are now expecting #2 and I will have to start riding with him/her much sooner. They actually make an infant seat that is like a sling seat. http://www.triobike.com/default.asp?clicked=513 It says suitable for 3-weeks upward and you can specify right or left-side installation. Thoughts?

    • says

      What a great bike! How long have you been using it? How does it ride?

      That sling seat looks great to me, I’d happily use it. Throw a blanket over their lap for an extra cozy ride.

      Color me jealous. :)

  6. Lisa says

    Thanks for your post… Pretty much exactly what I’ve been thinking, but it’s good to read it here too. My little one is 3 months and I was just out setting it up today when I saw those BIG bold letters… Our actually came with the infant sling and the baby support, so before I had seen the directions, I had it rigged with both and think that might work well..

  7. Kathryn says

    This is great! I did so much research when I was pregnant and it was/is impossible to find anyone talking about it or doing it. But in Holland, they ride bikes everywhere, nobody has a car! So how do they get home from the hospital? How do they get around all day? They must take their infants on the bike very very early, likely in those awesome cargo bikes with baby car seats in them.

    • Bianca from Holland says

      Hello Kathryn,

      Haha, I laughed out loud reading your comment! I was reading this, already old ;-), blog, because I have bought a Cougar 2 and infant sling. I want to cycle with my 8 weeks old son an d read the precautions of not cycling with it. In Holland a lot of people have a car (or 2) and a bike (2 or 3 ;-)). I wish that we had less cars because of the long traffic jams here. Car traffic jams. I read last week in the newspaper in big cities there are also cyclejams nowadays ;-). Funny how people overseas think about us ;-)

  8. Martin says

    I just got home from my first bike ride with my 9mo daughter (found a good deal on a used Chariot, picked it up today). Had a great time and I know she appreciated having a cool breeze on her face after a hot day in the car. Lots of happy noises coming from the trailer as we cruised alongside the river.

    Is it completely safe, guaranteed never to cause even the slightest injury? Of course not. Neither is driving a car, no matter how great the car seat. Neither is flying on an airplane, where infants are held on one’s lap! Neither is walking down the sidewalk, for that matter.

    I really don’t see how cycling on quiet pathways and side streets is any more reckless than driving down the highway. I certainly see, though, that one of these things is a lot healthier and a lot more fun. And with one it is definitely a lot easier to stop on a whim, get out and experience things like wading in the river, looking at squirrels and geese, watching the sun set over the mountains. Never really notice all this in a car.

    So yeah, we’ll take our chances out there on a bike, thanks. No question you’re doing the right thing. “Selfish” doesn’t even enter into it. Enjoy!

    • Martin says

      Just got an email someone else had commented. Amazing how long things will stick around on the web :) Thought I would just add: the one risk I did find that’s worth mentioning is the temperature differential between you as an active rider pulling a trailer and your child as a sedentary burbling cargo. In typical dad style we set off on a “short” ride along the river, forgetting that the babe has less patience. And, in particular, less ability to keep warm. She’s in the cool river breeze and shade getting quite cranky while I’m lugging her up and down hills feeling overheated. Wasn’t such an issue in the sun, but it was a long wailing ride back in the shade. Lesson learned: plan a route that has lots of options to cut it short (and remember you have to come back as far as you’ve gone), and keep in mind you’re working and hot, she’s not and considerably cooler. Probably obvious, I’m just a bit dumb that way.

  9. says

    Our son have 5 weekd. yesterday we tried to cycle a bit with him using chariot cougar1 with infant sling. We did it very carefully, of coure, on the smooth bicycle road. I seems to be ok with him, and we dont see the difference wolking or slow cycling. But we still consider this statement abot “not using for cycling”. Cycle or not to cycle, this is the question…

  10. Erin says

    If you read the chariot website in German, it actually says that they only don’t recommend the infant sling for biking due to North American standards, heavily implying that its not for safety reasons.

  11. Taylor says

    I do not think this is unsafe at all! I am ready to try it with my son (3 months), and I am wondering if the chariot sling attaches to any other kinds of trailers or does it have to be a chariot brand? I have a safety first double model… I just don’t want to spend $70 on the sling without knowing if it would attach or not. Thank you!

  12. says

    I suggest: IGI baby protector, I’m sure that would be cheaper and safer :). It’s funny, people in your country think riding a baby without a helmet is dangerous, but here (in Argentina) some parents ride with their newborns in their arms in a motocycle, that’s really dangerous!

  13. Kath says

    We have a chariot cougar II that we bought in Calgary (we are from New Zealand) and starting cycling when our daughter was about 7 months old (old enough to sit up and wear a helmet). previous to that, I had a hand brake fitted to it and roller bladed with her instead.

  14. Jen B says

    Like you…I love riding bikes!! I have a chariot CX1 and an amazing specialized EPIC 29er bike. So excited to take my 4 month old little dude out on a ride. Thanks to you I remembered to order the bike trailer kit. Dah! what was I waiting for?? hahaha thx again!

  15. Rebecca Wurm says

    So happy to find this today as similar to others, we are all excited to pop our 3 month old into the infant sling/chariot we inherited from my sister and there are those bold letters! Hmmm. After reading this post and comments I think we will try it, only on bike paths, and obviously with caution, but yep, I think it’s time! I lived in India for some time where I would regularly see folks holding infants on motorcycles so…here we go!

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>