Being out in the open air and riding mindlessly may be therapeutic when you’re riding alone. But what if this could be made into a fun and entertaining experience for the whole family? Riding with kids surely won’t be the same as normal rides. You will have to ride at a much slower pace and stop multiple times for snacks, or to tie a shoelace or even for some encouraging talk. But with so many options available to carry your kid on a bike, you don’t have to wait for your child to ride their own bikes to enjoy a fun family biking outing. While watching your kid learn to ride a bike for the first time may bring about some happy tears, the excitement of riding along with them will certainly be rewarding. In this article, we will look at all the ways cycling can be enjoyed with non-pedalling kids as well as independent riders.
When Can My Child Ride With Me?
We understand you want to be super sure before you take the plunge and ride your bike with your kid in the backseat. This is a genuine concern that has most parents Googling, “Is it safe to cycle with a child?” Well, we did some digging and found out that the experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics have approved of children between 12 months to 4 years of age to sit well unsupported.
Kids can enjoy biking from the backseat either in a rear-mounted child bike seat or can be towed along in an attached child bike trailer, provided their delicate necks are strong enough to carry a lightweight helmet.
However, if you do not want to take a risk, please ask your pediatrician as every child is different.
Is it safe to cycle with a child?
Safety should be made top priority. Riding on a bike with the child on the back rather than in tow is dangerous. Make sure you and your child are wearing a helmet at all times – no exceptions. When your cycling with your kid, you should –
1. Obey traffic rules and signs
2. Avoid listening to music
3. Avoid being distracted on your phone
4. Be considerate to other drivers
5. Engage in conversation with your child
How To Bike With Young Kids
Don’t let the thought of riding around the neighborhood with a child make you cancel your plans. Parents often find it difficult to decide between a child trailer or a child bike seat, but remember it all depends on your comfort.
Whichever one you choose, you should practice with pretend loads strapped into the seat for starters. Once you gain the confidence, you can hit the road with your kid seated behind you.
Before you put your kid in the seat, be assured that the bike is stable and the double-sided kickstand has been applied. If you find holding the bike and strapping your child in the seat at the same time to be difficult, ask your partner or friend to help you.
Different Ways To Bike With A Young Child/Cycling with kids
Take in the joys of biking along with your child instead of waiting for them to learn cycling and then going on bike rides with them. All you need to do is figure out a child carrier that works well for your kid depending on their age group, strap in your little one and go for a ride whenever you wish.
Slowly, you kids will gain confidence to ride on their own and eventually you can get them their own bike that will suit their degree of skill and independence.
Below we give you a few options to get you started. Along with the guidelines, make sure you check manufacturer recommendations and match them with your child’s development to choose what’s right for them.
We classified them in three different categories for your better understanding:
1. Kids as passengers
Enjoy this phase while it lasts, because once you get your child his own bike, there will be a lot of running around behind them while they learn how to peddle. “best bike for carrying child” – Typically, there are 3 types that are available. You can choose any option suitable keeping in mind your kids age, budget and bike compatibility.
Kids bike Seats – For kids about 1-4 years of age & 50 pounds
Children’s bike seats have hyped up the fun and convenient quotient with kids having a higher view range. Kids’ bike seats are commonly available in three-types in this category – mounted on the rack at the rear, on the frame and on the front of the bike.
These seats allow for a close opportunity to chat and explore together. Practice before you hit the roads with your child.
Kid’s Bike Trailers –For kids about 1-6 years of age & upto 40 pounds
Kid’s trailers just got safe and comfortable as they can carry more than one child. Typically attached behind the bikes, trailers are stable for hauling toddlers up to about 6 years. Parents who aren’t comfortable with kids in bike seats, can opt for trailers.
Trailers are a preferred choice over bike seats as they are designed to have plenty of room, an overhead cover to protect from the sun and rain and are close to the ground to make it easy to steer.
Cargo Bikes – For younger & older kids
Be it for running errands or fun adventures, families are embracing cargo bikes as a new way to explore with more than one kid. Did you ask us if it is the –“best bike for carrying child” yes, it may as well be. We tell you why…
Depending on the bike, kids can choose to sit in multiple ways, they can sit in the front bucket to take in the view or be strapped into the bike or sit on the shelf on the rear rack.
2. Assisted Riding
Once your kid reaches 2 years of age, you will need to check out “Cycle for kids.”
Balance Bikes – For kids about 2-5 years of age
Essentially balance bikes come without a pedal teaching your child to use their feet to move forward and act as brakes. Thepurpose of these bikes is to give them the feeling of being on a bike, steering and learning how to balance on their own.
Once your child gains the confidence on a balance bike, transitioning to a regular bike becomes easier.
Tagalong/Trailer Bikes – For kids about 4 years
“Tag along bikes” are connected to the rider’s seat post, andare great to train your kid before they are ready to go on their own. Your child can practice pedaling on non-steering handlebars while being safely maneuvered by you. This helps your child to learn control and balance. Some models of tagalong bikes allow kids to brake as well.
Training wheel bikes- For kids about age 3 or 4 years
Bikes with training wheels will help your child learn how to cycle on his own while you may be busy working from home. You do not need to assist your child with cycling if you get a bicycle with pre-installed wheels.
3. Riding by themselves -For kids above 5 years
The most common asked question by parents is – “What age should a child be able to ride a bike?” Once your child perfects cycling, you can choose to invest in their own two-wheeler. Many parents purchase a bike early on assuming their child will grow into it. However, that is unsafe to ride ruining your child’s adventure.
“Cycle for kids” While shopping for a bike, remember the right size is where your child can touch his feet on the ground even while sitting on it. Kids bikes are available in sizes 16”, 20” and 24” as they are measured by the wheel size and not the frame size.
Importance Of Cycling And Its Benefits
“benefits of cycling for kids” The reason you’ve been teaching your kid to ride a bike, is probably keeping in mind the benefits of cycling. Parents who initiate bicycling as a family involve kids at a very young age, making children look out for biking weekends.
After all, it is a huge relief to have your kid out playing in the sun or riding in the driveway instead of being glued to the television or gaming console. Taking kids outdoors to explore on cycles makes a child more active in comparison to other sports.
Parents find it difficult to control screen time at home for the fear of being perceived as strict or harsh. But, once you engage your child and peak their interest in cycling, you will realise you can truly get your kids to indulge in something outdoor-sy.
Instead of looking at teaching your kid to ride, as work on your day off, think about all the brilliant benefits other than wasting your time, energy and money on video games, movies and pizza. In fact, if you missed your workout this week, what better way than to cycle with your kid.
Once you introduce your kid to cycling at the right age, he is going to love riding the bike so much that he will insist on getting it in the house. While cycling will keep him occupied, it will slowly grow into a hobby and a routine.
If you want to know the health benefits of cycling, keep reading to know.
1. Development and life lessons
“benefits of cycling for kids” Getting your kids pedallingaids the development of your child’s entire body muscle, strength and stamina. It is reported that children who cycle to school are more active than those who come by car.
Cycling helps develop the lungs and heart of your child and is proven to help in cardiovascular muscles. Pedalling helps in weight control, while cycling is proven good for strong bone health and joint mobility. Cycling boosts brain development, mental well-being and mental health from a very young age.
“child development riding a bike” Cycling for about 60 minutes everyday helps them get the exercise recommended. This in turn, raises their metabolism rate and burns calories. Cycling helps adults reduce stress, depression and anxiety too.
Riding a bicycle involves the simultaneous execution of motor skills and cognitive skills. Children who are physically active are less likely to develop chronic disease and are more likely to experience enhanced mental and emotional well-being.
2. Emotional Well-Being
Hands down, kids love cycling! Teaching a kid how to ride a bike, gives them freedom and makes them uber independent. As discussed above, you can enjoy the benefits of cycling as a family, instead of waiting for your kids to grow up and ride around themselves.
Having said that, cycling boosts confidence in children, further making them accountable and responsible. You will observe that a kid who cycles gets out of the fear zone quicker compared to introvert kids.
Riding with families builds a bond between parents and children developing their relationship of trust with them, while making countless memories.
3. Social Development
Once your kid is confident to bike alone, he can cycle around the neighborhood and get to know the local area. This will help them make friends of their age easier and interact with them.
“child development riding a bike” Cycling is responsible for the building of social discipline, which is another way for kids to socialize with other children and connect with them on topics that interest them. In this way, children can work on their social skills, share common ideas, views, ambitions, aspirations and even discuss problems
Biking competitions can be organized which can bring together parents and children alike, making for more family bonding time.
4. Save The Planet
Cycling with kids is the best way to introduce and teach kids of an eco-friendly environment. Initiating this good habit from an early stage will help create and bring about an awareness of a pollution-free form transport is crucial.
Good habits learnt young always last a lifetime. Cyclists breathe in less pollution unlike car drivers who are stuck in traffic. Cycling to school will improve you and your child’s fitness without causing any damage to the environment.
All in all, the benefits of riding a bike are abundant for you, your kid and your partner too. Cycling is good for you and protects you from serious illnesses such as a heart attack, stroke, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, depression, and even some types of cancer.
It is therapeutic as it helps reduce stress, keeping you focussedat all times. Cycling doubles up as exercise helping you and your kid maintain your weight, reducing the chances of getting obese.
Where Should You Practice With Your Kid
Until you do not have the confidence to ride with your kid, you should steer clear of roads with ongoing traffic. For starters, you can use your driveway to teach them how to use the balance bike.
Eventually, when the family heads out for a cycling outing, you can go on trails, quiet bike paths and multi-used pathways, where the noise is minimal and you can engage in a conversation with your kid.
On days, when your kid wants to go to the park or playground, you can cycle along the park promenade.
The right gear makes a cycling experience even more fun and comfortable for everyone, especially your child. Below is everything you need to amp up on before you set out on family rides.
Whether you are a rider or a passenger, helmets are non-negotiable. While choosing a helmet. Pick one with a magnetic buckle lock that your child himself can secure on his own.
Make sure the helmet does not pinch your child, test different helmets at the shop and choose the right size that fits your child’s head. Remember that your child’s head must be well-protected. Read up more on the US bike safety standards to ensure you choose an approved helmet.
2. Pads and Gloves
Learning to cycle involves a lot of falling off the bike, getting up and doing it all over again. This is the only way your child will learn how to balance his bike. For this you need to ensure that your child is learning to ride in the right designated area. This will minimize a lot of falls, bumps and grazes with a good set of padded gloves and elbow and knee pads.
3. Cycling Clothes & Sunblock
Make sure your kid is wearing light clothing with maximum coverage, this will protect your child both during summer and winter. Kids are very sensitive, so make sure you apply sunblock before heading out.
Have You Ticked Off On Your Checklist?
Before you set out on your cycling adventure, there are quite a few things you need to tick off on your checklist.
Always do a quick bike check to see if everything is in order. Test out the handbrakes to make sure they are smooth so that your child can operate them. Ensure that the ABC are in functioning condition – air in the tyres, brakes are workingand the chain is well-oiled.
Chalk out a route which is away from on-going traffic. You can start by cruising around the neighborhood for 10-15 minutes before you set off on your bike path.
Make sure your kids’ helmet is tightly fastened, ensure the helmet is placed well and and the magnetic lock is buckled up securely.
Snacks are the reward for a bicycling trip made successful. You can also make trips relaxed and take breaks on the way to hang out, grab a bite and take in the scenery.
Pack enough of it to either munch on the way or to have upon arrival to your destination.
Don’t forget, snacks also work to fix moody kids. Carry water for both you and kid so that your adventure may not be interrupted.
How To Keep Your Kids Entertained
What are the “benefits of cycling for kids?” Cycling with kids serves a dual purpose – it works as a great opportunity to spend time with the family and get everyone to exercise as well. If you have a small kid seated in the front mounted bike seat, you can engage in some talk as they can hear and see everything.
A child seated in the kids trailer will not be able to hear you talk, so you can carry a sippy cup, a soft toy, or a blanket in case they doze off. To make sure your child is excited, choose a location that will be fun for your kid, like a park, or a playground. You can bike around the promenade too before making a stop and going on the slides in the park.
Let this biking spree be spontaneous and do not plan a route or overestimate your speed, let this leisure trip lead you wherever you feel like going.
If you were an avid cyclist before, you don’t have to assume that your cycling days are over once you have kids. In fact, you have tons of options to haul your kids around, thus making sure nothing can stop you.
Whether your kid accompanies you as a passenger or joins you along, it is the most rewarding thing for any cyclist parent. You can be a fun parent by organising biking trips on the weekend, thus introducing them to a healthy lifestyle by making cycling a fun activity.
Cycling must be made exciting for everyone. Be it parents, kids or even grandparents, it should be adventurous for all. Parents who introduce kids to cycling at a young age, initiate discipline and help them develop physically.