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Our infant was born in October and is approaching 8 months old. We recently purchased a bike trailer for the purpose of taking family bike rides (we also have a 3 year old). We live in a part of the United States that gets four distinct seasons. This means that 6 months or less are suited for outdoor activities, and we were hoping to get our for some family rides before this season is over.

Neither of us parents are intense bike riders, but we like biking for the purpose of getting some fresh air and exercise. We don't expect seeing serious speeds, and our neighborhood has pretty decent off-street paved bike paths.

I've done some searching online related to helmets for infants, and now feel scared to death of doing permanent brain-jiggling damage if I took our 8 month old in the trailer. How do I tell if our baby is strong enough/old enough for the bumpy ride?


For reference, our baby has been sitting unsupported since about 6 months, and since he's always loved his tummy, he's had a lot of neck exercise.

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I'm curious what there is on this, we have a bike trailer that I am thinking of using with out 14 month old, but just haven't had a nice weekend lately to hook it up. I'm also curious on if you get a helmet on your infant, our youngest doesn't like hats, even on others and takes them off when he can. –  MichaelF Jun 13 '11 at 11:59
    
Answers here seem to say that a seat is better than a trailer. Our sister site Bicycles.SE disagrees: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/5136/… –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Sep 3 '12 at 12:51

2 Answers 2

It's not just the neck but the entire torso that needs to delevop sufficient strength to support its own weight. The practical measure is that when a child can raise itself to the sitting position by itself, then the upper body (spine, muscles, etc.) is sufficiently developed for upright load. If you sit the child on the floor and he remains sitting - that's not enough, that's cheating, and you may be putting the child under undue stress if you go biking at that point.

Bike seats (which are mounted using a bracket on the bike's frame) offer sufficient suspension (ca. 3 cm / 1 inch) that minor bumps are evened out. Most bike trailers don't have that much suspension, if any at all! Usually, the only shock absorbing factor is the tires, and they don't offer much. So when comparing bike seats to bike trailers, I would err on the side of caution and add a few months' worth of development.

Once the child is old enough to make himself sit comfortably, he will know how to position himself in a trailer. But you should consider whether the trailer offers sufficient support (and crash protection!) for a child that young, as most are geared toward 3-6yo kids.

The child must sit, not lie down - that would be seriously uncomfortable at the slightest bumps. With a trailer, bumps are felt much more clearly than with a bike or bike seat. Roads that are "so-so" on bike are already "no-no" with a bike trailer. Roads must be nice and flat, and no ruts or potholes. If there are, go over them at no more than walking speed.

Helmets:
Since Michael brings it up: Our son (now 20 months) disliked any kind of hats during the winter, but he has accepted the helmet to the point that he won't even touch his trike without wearing the helmet. I would recommend that a child should always wear a helmet when biking even when in a bike seat or a trailer, from age 0 to 12 years. We have made it a role-modelling policy that the whole party must wear helmets, otherwise nobody bikes. We just completed a 5-day, 330 km, bike trip with my mother who always tries to "forget" the seatbelt in the car, but with respect for our son she too wore a helmet the whole time.

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lol...yeah I'm still waiting on the helmet. I tried a short ride with the trailer, basically down our driveway to the neighbors driveway and back, and I found it pretty bumpy. My 14 month old liked the feeling of the ride and the bumps, but I'm not sure I'll do it again since he was unable to keep a comfy spot in the trailer. We all wear helmets with the bike, even me and I was riding bikes before they ever made us wear helmets, I don't like them but need to set a good example. –  MichaelF Jun 15 '11 at 16:42

As stated, the child should be able to sit up...so I'd say 2-ish...unless maybe the trailer can accommodate the child in a car seat properly anchored to the trailer (I don't know if said type of trailer exists.)

One gripe I have about our trailer is that the seat goes straight up the back of the head, so there was no way for us to have our child wear a helmet while riding the trailer (as the helmet would hit the back and push his head forward). Not a huge deal on the bike trails, though so we risked it and things were fine.

But there is the non-physical aspect. Our oldest LOVED the trailer. Our youngest HATED the trailer. So, I think part of it comes down to individual personalities.

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Two years old - and just sitting up? –  NickC Jun 13 '11 at 20:52
    
no. But I'd say strong enough to deal with a bouncing bike trailer by then. But I dunno...you'd know your kid's development state better than I. ;) –  DA01 Jun 13 '11 at 21:36
    
I was just wondering if I was misunderstanding. –  NickC Jun 13 '11 at 21:48

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