March 15, 2018 - Melissa Moser is a GIS Specialist/Cartographer in Adventure Cycling's Routes and Mapping Department and provided this post for Geopoints Bulletin.
As a GIS Specialist/Cartographer who helps improve the Adventure Cycling Route Network every working day, I’m constantly inspired by new places to tour by bike. In addition, my husband and I met through cycling, and it remains a core component of our lives. When we found out our family would be growing from two to three, we knew introducing our child to the joy of bike travel would rank pretty high on our priority list. So we wondered, “How soon can we introduce our newborn baby to bike travel?”
While we wanted to share our love of bike travel with our daughter early and often, we also wanted to keep her safe. Could we do this when she was a baby? We explored our options by looking at standard recommendations, then digging deeper into reasons for them. In addition to talking with our pediatrician, we read many articles to assist us in assessing the risks to our infant daughter. I’ve listed some of the most helpful pieces at the end of the post.
We found it is much more common to bike with small babies in other countries around the world, particularly the Netherlands. But in the U.S., not many people bike with infants, and makers of bike trailers and child bike seats recommend you don’t bike with a baby younger than nine to 12 months old.
Why? It seems the major concerns when cycling with a child under 12 months are:
For us, introducing our daughter to our favorite form of exercise, transportation, and learning more about the world, provided benefits that outweighed what we saw as the risks. With excitement, we decided we would try a small bike trip just before I would return to work, three months after our baby was born, and take precautions to mitigate potential issues.
To tackle the concerns listed above, we did the following:
In the end, we felt much more comfortable, happier, and healthier with our baby in a car seat inside a bike trailer riding leisurely on a paved bike path than we did having her strapped inside a car going 55+ mph down a busy road. And riding along the beautiful trail in fall foliage with birds and squirrels chirping all around us, helped to reinvigorate our sleep-deprived lives. In that riding and the enjoyment of the journey, we found a strong sense of family bonding, getting back to one of the things we love most, and sharing that with our new daughter.
“How soon can you introduce your baby to bike travel?” is a question that each parent should evaluate for themselves. Do your own research, talk with your pediatrician, and check local and state helmet laws in areas you’d like to ride. Then, like every decision that you make, weigh the benefits and the risks.
Whenever you decide to introduce your child to bike travel, you can find ideas for starter trips at BikeOvernights.org, with entries tagged as Family. I will also be posting more on our first bike trip with my daughter there.
Other links about biking with babies:
Photos 1, 3 and 4 Melissa Moser | Photo 2 Tracy Brown
GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer ‘Jenn’ Hamelman, Routes & Mapping Assistant Director, and appears once a month, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.