A bike outing is a great way to enjoy quality time with your family. Everyone will benefit from getting exercise while soaking up sun and fresh air and enjoying the scenery outdoors. Older children can follow along with their own bikes, but smaller kids and toddlers are better off seated comfortably and safely on a parent’s bike.
When choosing a child bike seat, you need to consider your child’s comfort and safety, as well as your own. With many manufacturers producing a variety of different kid bike seat models, it’s simply a matter of comparing the features and choosing the one that suits your child.
Above all else, a child safety seat needs to protect your child. No one likes to think of taking a spill, but securing your child properly in a bike seat is the only way to ensure they stay safe. It’s also a legal requirement that they wear a helmet. Pediatricians generally discourage taking a child under the year of one on a bicycle, but even children over the age of one need to be able to sit still.
All kid bike seats are designed for a certain age range and weight. Carefully read all labels, and make sure to respect the manufacturer’s guidelines. There are three basic types of child bike seats:
Rear mounted: These are designed with a high back to keep your child firmly secured. They mount behind the rider, facing forward. This can be reassuring for a small child, to see their parent at all times, but it limits the view of older children, and won’t allow you to keep your eyes on them while riding.
Front mounted: With your child installed in a seat in front of you, it is easier to watch them. They also get a better view of the road. You need to be extra careful when riding around in busy areas, since the extra weight over the front can cause you to tip if you need to use your brakes quickly.
Central bar mounted: A third option for older children is to install them on a small seat mounted between the rider’s seat and the handle bars. This can limit your control over your bike, but it gives your child a great view forward. This type of bike seat is not ideal for long distances, but can be useful for occasional short trips.
Child seats all come with safety straps. They should be adjustable, and keep your child from getting out on their own. You can choose useful features like sun visors, wind protection, and reflective safety straps and flags for higher visibility. Some models also include handy pockets and storage compartments.
The only way to be sure your child fits is to try them out in various bike seat models. Because kids grow fast, there is a large market of used child bike seats. You can easily buy and sell quality used kid bike seats until your kids are old enough to enjoy peddling a bike of their own!
Check out BikeExchange for child bike seats, helmets, and more. Then, swing over to our editorial section, where you’ll find a treasure trove of useful information, from the latest reviews and news to interviews and more.