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Does anyone have any experience or references on when it is ok to start putting a child in a bike child seat/carrier?

I am aware that our child will need some extra neck strength to not bobble around too much with the added weight of having a helmet on his head.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that:

...children under 1 year of age should not be on bicycles. Children are just learning to sit unsupported at about 9 months of age. Until this age, infants have not developed sufficient bone mass and muscle tone to enable them to sit unsupported with their backs straight. Pediatricians advise against having infants sitting in a slumped or curled position for prolonged periods. This position may even be exacerbated by the added weight of a bicycle helmet on the infant’s head.

In some US jurisdictions it is illegal for children under the age of 1 to be passengers on a bicycles as well.

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Does anyone from outside the USA (Australia, Europe, UK, etc.) have info like this? I'd like to see if there is a commonly accepted standard. –  David HAust Oct 14 '10 at 11:40
    
@David HAust - that's a reasonable question, but wouldn't you think that the bones and muscles of toddlers everywhere develop at roughly the same rate? While this is an 'American' suggestion, it seems valid worldwide. –  Gary.Ray Oct 14 '10 at 13:42
    
Haha. Yes, they do grow at the same rate everywhere ; ) I only asked because it seems anything involving kids is very prone to polarised opinions so I was simply seeking a counter-point. No offence meant to 'american' suggestions. Perhaps asking for info from different geo regions was the wrong way to go about it. My bad. –  David HAust Oct 14 '10 at 23:16
    
@David HAust - No offense taken. I am interested in other geographic area responses as well. –  Gary.Ray Oct 15 '10 at 4:41
    
@David (better late than never) My wife is a trained physiotherapist; I am certain she knows what she's talking about and she confirms that the same applies in Austria, and I must assume in all European countries. Infants should never sit upright (or even reclined!) until they're able to sit on their own. Just like @Gary said. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 2 '11 at 19:44

If you use a trailer its pretty much the same as using a pushchair (stroller) and indeed some double up (I wouldn't get one that doesn't) - you'll get a 5 point harness, a seat that reclines and you can get head cushions and the like too.

Of course a trailer may not be practical in your circumstance (though I'd be surprised) but if it is it also helps deal with the problem of all the other stuff you want to carry when going out with a small child.

One other option for practical as opposed to more recreational use is a cargo bike or trike of some sort - I'd've loved one of these a Nihola or a Christiana Trike - in which you can put the same seat/carrier you'd use in a car 'til they're of a size to sit up. There are also Dutch cargo bikes that can similarly be equipped with benches, rain covers, etc. But I'd probably still have wanted a trailer too for longer rides (-:

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I hadn't thought of the trailer. I like the idea of the extra carrying capacity and the five point harness, but it could be a bit more cumbersome. The cargo bikes look interesting but buying a new bike is not an option (unfortunately). –  David HAust Oct 7 '10 at 22:29
    
I think trailers are wonderful - they have also evolved significantly (in most respects) from when I got mine some 15 years ago. Cumbersome... yes, maybe, ish. I think it depends on your intended use. Some have concerns about visibility - but I never found that to be an issue. –  Murph Oct 8 '10 at 7:38

In the Netherlands the accepted age for first bicycle rides is about 9 months. The main point to watch out for is that many bicycle seats are a bit big for children that age so you have to take special care they can't bounce or climb out.

Recently bicycle adapters for maxicosi chairs have appeared such as the one below. Thus you can also transport babies on a bicycle:

maxicosi bicycle adapter

If you have a cargo bike you would typically use one of these for your baby.

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However in the Netherlands most bike rides are on "nice" cycle paths and may be much shorter then in the USA. –  Ian Oct 26 '10 at 12:05
    
True, I was assuming the original question dealt with the physical abilities of the child. –  jilles de wit Oct 26 '10 at 12:39
    
How do the dutch move babies under 9months old? Walking/car? Walking in US is often pretty impractical due to distance and maybe there is more need for more "solutions" on how to strap baby car seat to a bike cart for example –  Ville M May 9 '11 at 21:18
    
@Ville M: something like the seat I added to the picture, or various baby shells that fit in cargo bikes such as the christiania bike. –  jilles de wit May 10 '11 at 6:54

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