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When my child falls asleep in the child seat, his head falls forward.
How can I keep his head back?

The child seat is a modern type with a back that can be tilted back to prevent that. It works, but only as long as the bike isn't moving. But at speed, the seat's movements from an uneven road surface and from simply pedalling will slowly but surely make his head fall forward. Short of replacing the child seat with one whose back can be angled even further back, what options do I have?

I thought of the whiplash protectors used in Formula 1 cars: somehow strap the child's helmet to the seat back. But that would be neither safe nor effective, as such a strap would only tug at the helmet (not the head) with the risk of slow suffocation or at least a helmet that slides into the neck and would no longer protect the head in case of an accident.

Let me add a fun photo: here, a cloth bag is hung from the helmet in an attempt to keep the child's head from falling forward. We did NOT actually do that, but it shows the idea.

enter image description here

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Duck Tape! (sorry, I just had to say that) –  Мסž May 2 '11 at 1:38
    
This looks about as comfortable as any seat I have seen. Bobike maxi Tour –  user770 May 9 '11 at 0:19
    
Probably a crazy idea but what about a zip tie through a rear air vent in the helmet and then through a couple of holes drilled in the seat back? (Loose enough to turn head to see the scenery obviously). Just carry some extra zipties and something to cut them with. Maybe I should try this on my own kid first :) –  Paul May 9 '11 at 0:43
    
@Paul I have already considered something softer, and even tested it. I'm writing it as an answer below. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 9 '11 at 6:11
    
@user770 it's not about the seat being uncofortable but about the head falling forward... the seat you linked to doesn't seem to have a back that can be leaned back. The one we have can do that. It's not the child that falls forward, only the head. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 9 '11 at 6:17

5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

We have a neck pillow to fit our youngest. Similar to this one...

http://www.amazon.com/Noodlehead-Travel-Buddies-Neck-Pillow/dp/B000EOEAUS

She went down a good bit of the the Katy trail using one of these in a Topeak rack seat. Works like a champ.

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I'd be tempted to mount that backwards, with the padded bit in front. But that would take a bit of care to avoid strangling the child. –  Мסž May 5 '11 at 0:11
    
I think this is a good suggestion. We found a neck pillow on Amazon that's very narrow in the neck and also nearly closes in the front. We're going to try that and see how well it works. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 8 '11 at 18:22
    
Yes, this works very well, but only when placed with the opening in the neck. That way, the chin is resting on the top surface of the cushion, so it's comfortable and doesn't restrict breathing. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 23 '11 at 16:03

The seat-back curves backwards towards its top. So if your child were a little higher in the seat (taller/older or, perhaps, sitting on a cushion), then their head would lean back more.

Having a little padding behind the upper back and neck shoulders (so that there's more room for the head to fall backwards) might do too: a "travel neck pillow".

The back of the helmet is pushing the head forward, away from the seat (but I can't suggest altering the helmet).

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Good observation. On our next trip, I'll try to raise him a little, and if that fails then I'll try the pillow in the back. We've already considered the "travel neck pillow" but it really only supports the child's head sideways. At least in that age, it doesn't prevent the head from falling forward; older kids have more "chin" to put the pillow under, and then it might work better. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 2 '11 at 11:00
    
@torbengb - My thoughts about a neck pillow were this: if you stand with your back to a wall and try to push your upper back and neck against the wall, that pushes your head forward. Whereas if your neck is 4 to 6 inches away from the wall, then there's room for the back of your head (and in the child's case, the bike helmet as well) to balance on top of the neck and even to tilt backwards to reach the wall. –  ChrisW May 2 '11 at 12:28
    
That makes sense. I'll try and see if a neck pillow does the trick. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 8 '11 at 18:23
    
This works well in combination with Chad's neck pillow. As you said, moving the torso slighty forward allows more room for the head to lean back behind its equilibrium. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 23 '11 at 16:07

Some child seats come with an optional "desk" specifically for this. The BoBike "handlbar", for instance, is padded up to the point where most kids won't actually be able to hold on to it: http://www.gazellebicycles.com.au/component/content/172.html?task=view

I would try to add something like that, and probably start with a seatpost-mounted handlebar from a tandem (often they use a standard stem and a shim, but you probably want a tandem-specific extending stem).

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I don't understand how a handlebar would keep the child's head from falling forward. Would you place the handlebar so high that the front of the child's helmet is resting on the handlebar? Doesn't seem safe, or comfortable (bumps). Maybe I'm totally missing your point. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 8 '11 at 18:17
    
@torbengb: did you look at the device I linked to? It is not supposed to keep the child's head upright, merely stop the child falling uncomfortably far forward. There's a compromise between how obtrusive that platform is and how supportive it is. –  Мסž May 8 '11 at 22:02
    
yes I looked at both links. Are you referring to the first one? It doesn't explain where it's supposed to go, or even how big it is. Is it a handlebar? Is it a (fore-)headrest? wtf is it... ;-) I'm now getting the idea that you mean the "bar" should go across the chest, sort of like those in amusement parks. I definitely need a clearer understanding of what you're trying to suggest! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 9 '11 at 6:09
    
It goes pretty much where a handlebar would go, relative to the child. Probably a little higher. The idea is that the seatbelt/chest strap holds the torso upright, and the "handlebar" stops the head from falling too far forward. Ideally their forehead will rest on the bar when their head rolls forward. –  Мסž May 9 '11 at 22:20
    
Aha, so it really is a "foreheadrest"! Thanks for clearing that up. I've never seen that in the world around me. It doesn't sound all that comfortable; will the child really sleep through any road bumps (I mean bad surface rather than just soft speed bumps)? Is this even safe to use when there are road bumps? I'd be concerned about jolts to the head, since that handlebar is mounted on the bike frame and not on the (slightly suspended) child seat. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 10 '11 at 6:51

Here is a solution that actually worked very well -- and during our testing it appears safe to use, seemingly also in the event of an accident. (If you disagree, please explain why!)

What we did was to loop a thick soft rubber band around the helmet's headband, and then secure the other end of the rubber band to the seatback using a bit of string through one of the shoulder-strap openings, to achieve a horizontal pull.

Earlier, we tried looping the rubber band through one of the helmet's air vents, but this caused problems: pulling the helmet back towards the neck revealing the forehead, and potentially putting upwards pressure on the chin strap. Evidently, the helmet's shell should be left alone.

Attaching the rubber band to the helmet's headband was much better. As you can see from the photo, it provides a very level pull (not angled) in the perfectly opposite direction of the force of the falling head. The length of the rubber band also allows sufficient freedom of movement so it doesn't restrict the child when he's awake. Since the headband is already designed to spread the pressure evenly around the head, it also appeared to comfortably spread the "hold-back force" (feel free to edit my lacking English).

using a rubber band on the helmet's headband

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Have you heard of the BEABO? I seen it on E-bay and ordered one, works really good and comes in 6 different colors.

There's a video showing a BEABO here.

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I can't find any products titled 'BEABO' do you have a link you can provide? –  Ambo100 Jul 31 '11 at 10:28
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This answer would be more helpful if you could describe a little what a BEABO is, how it works, how it's different from the other solutions in the other answers on this question... –  freiheit Aug 1 '11 at 15:19

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