Author Topic: biking with an infant  (Read 6071 times)

KES

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biking with an infant
« on: December 12, 2013, 04:05:30 PM »
I've been biking my 4-year old to preschool in a trailer (have to haul along my 2-year old as well).
The third baby is due in March, although I probably won't bike for a few weeks postpartum.  Any tips for biking with 3 small children including a tiny infant?  The baby seat for behind my seat seems only for babies at least 6-8 months.

TheDude

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Re: biking with an infant
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2013, 04:09:53 PM »
We have an infant sling we use in our Chariot but there is no way in hell I would use if or anything other than walking. I don't think a really good option exists before they can support there own head.

MicroRN

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Re: biking with an infant
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2013, 04:27:53 PM »
Everything I've read from has said that it's really not a good idea until they can sit up straight while wearing a helmet, around a year for most kids.  I know people do it, but I decided that was the metric I would use as well.  My older son was about 14 months before he was able to maintain head control with the helmet in a bike trailer.  Our second is almost a year old, and I've started using our bike trailer as a stroller so I can observe him in it and make sure he's doing ok.  Next I'll test it with the helmet.  Once I'm confident, we'll start biking.   

Some people use a bakfiets with an infant carseat strapped into the cargo area, and some people secure an infant carseat into a bike trailer.  If I absolutely had to bike with an infant, that's the option I'd take.  Since we bike for recreation though, I feel we're better off walking for now.         

KES

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Re: biking with an infant
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2013, 05:15:36 PM »
Thanks for the advice!  Looks like we won't be biking much this summer then, there's always next year!

ghatko

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Re: biking with an infant
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2013, 07:33:17 AM »
This is something that really annoys me. I'm due with my 2nd in February, and I would love to bike with both of them next summer. I'm finding it really hard to figure out what to do with the baby. The part that annoys me the most is that, as a society, we strap newborn, very fragile babies into car seats, and think it's completely normal to fly down the highway at tremendous speeds. But we can't take our babies in a bike trailer until they are at least 1-1.5 years old and can wear a helmet? I don't understand how that makes any sense. I haven't come up with a solution yet, but I'm still looking!

Sorry for the mini-rant, I'm blaming pregnancy hormones ;)

ASquared

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Re: biking with an infant
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2013, 07:56:12 AM »
Sorry but 6-8 wks is way too young for a bike ride!!  Please be careful with your new baby.  I don't even think that is old enough for the jogging strollers.  Maybe 8mo or so you could try putting them in a trailer with a helmet?

ghatko

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Re: biking with an infant
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2013, 08:28:21 AM »
I understand that jogging strollers and bike trailers say not to use them until the baby is much older, but my question is why? Why are hitting a few bumps in a jogging stroller worse than hitting a few bumps in a car? I would expect a car crash to impart much higher forces on a fragile baby, even when strapped into a car seat, than these other means of transportation. So why is it fine to put your newborn in a car but not put your baby in a jogging stroller/bike trailer? I think that if there were child restraints (maybe similar to a car seat) available that could hold a newborn securely in a jogging stroller/bike trailer that the baby would be a lot safer than in a car.

acroy

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Re: biking with an infant
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2013, 09:15:35 AM »
I've started trailer-ing infants around 6 weeks (don't sic CPS on me!)

I wrap the heck out of them, turn them into a little cocoon. Then lay him down lengthwise in the seat area & strap in snugly. Wedge in with blankets & such.

Safe & secure. no helmet bothers me but we go slow, max 10mph, and stay off busy streets. The kid is strapped into a steel cage, so he should be safe.

they sit up & wearing a helmet soon as possible - I don't remember the age.

PindyStache

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Re: biking with an infant
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2013, 09:35:30 AM »
We went through this same process of investigation. We found little conclusive research and conflicting opinions given by various pediatricians and child bike safety equipment (i.e. manuals for kid bike helmets/bike seats/trailers/etc.). We ended up walking with infant in a sling until about 9 months--at which point he was holding his head up very well on his own.

I'd also recommend a bike seat mounted ahead of your seat, so that you can see the small child and more easily interact/narrate the journey. There are a bunch of options, but this is what I use (and continue to use now that he's almost 2--it's rated up to 45 lbs.)
http://www.weeride.com/

I understand that jogging strollers and bike trailers say not to use them until the baby is much older, but my question is why? Why are hitting a few bumps in a jogging stroller worse than hitting a few bumps in a car? I would expect a car crash to impart much higher forces on a fragile baby, even when strapped into a car seat, than these other means of transportation. So why is it fine to put your newborn in a car but not put your baby in a jogging stroller/bike trailer? I think that if there were child restraints (maybe similar to a car seat) available that could hold a newborn securely in a jogging stroller/bike trailer that the baby would be a lot safer than in a car.

My somewhat uneducated understanding the primary risk is less acute head/neck/brain injury from jostling/bumping around, not higher danger in a crash with a car. At this age their brain/skull structure is not fully developed--their little brain is still sort of sloshing with extra room up there and the skull is not fully set. Plus their necks are not strong enough to stabilize their heads. So if they are constantly bumping around in a trailer or in the bike seat (whether biking or jogging) there is a risk of some minor disruption to regular brain development. A car is quite a bit smoother ride and most infant car seats have additional supports to keep baby's head in one place.

mpbaker22

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Re: biking with an infant
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2013, 09:47:40 AM »
To be honest here, I feel like I'd be one of those super safe parents who refuses to put the kid in the trailer until they're 3 years old.  From talking with my brother, he says it's pretty standard to wait at least 6 months (better for a year).

ghatko

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Re: biking with an infant
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2013, 10:03:49 AM »
A car is quite a bit smoother ride and most infant car seats have additional supports to keep baby's head in one place.

A car ride is certainly not smoother on the roads in my area ;) And why isn't there a seat of some kind for a jogging stroller/bike trailer that has the additional supports to keep the baby's head in one place as a car seat? I guess that is my primary question. Why have we designed child restraints specifically for newborns for cars, but we haven't designed ones for newborns for jogging/biking?

To be honest here, I feel like I'd be one of those super safe parents who refuses to put the kid in the trailer until they're 3 years old.  From talking with my brother, he says it's pretty standard to wait at least 6 months (better for a year).

How can you consider yourself a 'super safe parent' when you will still put your kid in a car? I know that society in general forgets about the risks of being in a car, but that is the point that I'm trying to make. I feel that if there were child restraints designed specifically for biking, that it would be a safer means of transporation than a car.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2013, 10:11:44 AM by ghatko »

mpbaker22

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Re: biking with an infant
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2013, 11:28:21 AM »
To be honest here, I feel like I'd be one of those super safe parents who refuses to put the kid in the trailer until they're 3 years old.  From talking with my brother, he says it's pretty standard to wait at least 6 months (better for a year).

How can you consider yourself a 'super safe parent' when you will still put your kid in a car? I know that society in general forgets about the risks of being in a car, but that is the point that I'm trying to make. I feel that if there were child restraints designed specifically for biking, that it would be a safer means of transporation than a car.

My post didn't mention cars at all, but since you brought it up ... cars generally are much less bumpier than bicycles.  With an infant, you should be worrying about small bumps on a normal ride more than you worry about an actual crash.  Particularly a major crash is going to cause major problems either way.  Whereas small bumps will cause no problems in a car and quite a few problems in a bicycle trailer.

MicroRN

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Re: biking with an infant
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2013, 07:46:19 PM »
I guess that is my primary question. Why have we designed child restraints specifically for newborns for cars, but we haven't designed ones for newborns for jogging/biking?

And that is an excellent question!  I'd say it's probably because we, as a society, don't put a lot of emphasis on biking/jogging.  We do ride in cars a lot, and so ways were designed to make it as safe as possible.  We tend to consider cars a necessity, and bikes/jogging strollers a means of recreation.  I'm absolutely certain that the same could be done for bike trailers, if someone were interested enough to do it.  Since we don't have those, I'm sticking with the AAP recommendations.  I keep thinking it would be neat to have a really well-designed hard shell bike trailer, that would be safe in event of a collision with a car.   

The reason you aren't supposed to jog or bike with a smaller child is that they don't have the neck strength to support their head, nor the back strength to keep their spine straight.  I don't know of any bike trailers with reclining seats, and the bike-mounted seats are all upright too. When you bike, you have to add the weight of the helmet, which makes it even harder.  A carseat that is correctly installed and fitted reclines the baby sufficiently and supports the head.

An FYI for everyone who plans to bike - a study found that there were more frequent and serious head and face injuries to children from bike-mounted seats than from trailers.  Most occurred when the bike fell over.  I'm not saying you shouldn't use them, but if you're torn between seat and trailer, it's something to think about.  My cousin got a concussion at 2 years old when his dad's bike fell over on a slick, curvy hill.  The 2 kids in the bike trailer were fine because the rotating hitch kept the trailer upright.     

bogart

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Re: biking with an infant
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2013, 08:27:55 PM »
To be honest here, I feel like I'd be one of those super safe parents who refuses to put the kid in the trailer until they're 3 years old.  From talking with my brother, he says it's pretty standard to wait at least 6 months (better for a year).

How can you consider yourself a 'super safe parent' when you will still put your kid in a car? I know that society in general forgets about the risks of being in a car, but that is the point that I'm trying to make. I feel that if there were child restraints designed specifically for biking, that it would be a safer means of transporation than a car.

I know many bought in wholeheartedly to MMM's claim that biking is the safest form of transportation; not one person commented directly on the data I put in a comment on that post that read as follows:
An article entitled “Motor Vehicle Crash Injury Rates by Mode of Travel, United States: Using Exposure-Based Methods to Quantify Differences” that can be found online, full text, free, here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17449891 reports the following fatality rates per 100 million person-trips (not per mile) for 1999-2003 in the US:
Passenger vehicle: 9.2
Motorcycle: 536.6
Walking: 13.7
Bicycle: 21.0
Bus: 0.4
And the following nonfatal injury rates for the same time interval, same denominator —
Passenger vehicle: 803.0
Motorcycle: 10,336.6
Walking: 215.5
Bicycle: 1,461.2
Bus: 160.8
-----

Clearly, it's difficult to find decent data to compare the relative safety of bikes and cars and I don't imagine the above to be precise or perfect.  Still, I'm going to continue to stick with preferring academic-researcher produced, peer reviewed publications (from which those stats come) to biking-afficionado blogger data, myself, but you may prefer MMM's thinking on this, or have your own sense of which is safer in general or in your particular community/circumstances. 

Still, asking why one gets in a car (but not asking why one gets on a bike) seems a tad silly (which may of course be your point).
« Last Edit: December 13, 2013, 08:43:56 PM by bogart »

mm1970

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Re: biking with an infant
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2013, 08:32:00 PM »
Everything I've read from has said that it's really not a good idea until they can sit up straight while wearing a helmet, around a year for most kids.  I know people do it, but I decided that was the metric I would use as well.  My older son was about 14 months before he was able to maintain head control with the helmet in a bike trailer.  Our second is almost a year old, and I've started using our bike trailer as a stroller so I can observe him in it and make sure he's doing ok.  Next I'll test it with the helmet.  Once I'm confident, we'll start biking.   

Some people use a bakfiets with an infant carseat strapped into the cargo area, and some people secure an infant carseat into a bike trailer.  If I absolutely had to bike with an infant, that's the option I'd take.  Since we bike for recreation though, I feel we're better off walking for now.       
This is how we feel.

bogart

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Re: biking with an infant
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2013, 08:42:12 PM »
I understand that jogging strollers and bike trailers say not to use them until the baby is much older, but my question is why? Why are hitting a few bumps in a jogging stroller worse than hitting a few bumps in a car? I would expect a car crash to impart much higher forces on a fragile baby, even when strapped into a car seat, than these other means of transportation. So why is it fine to put your newborn in a car but not put your baby in a jogging stroller/bike trailer? I think that if there were child restraints (maybe similar to a car seat) available that could hold a newborn securely in a jogging stroller/bike trailer that the baby would be a lot safer than in a car.

I think there is a physics angle to the different problems (car versus bike trailer) that you are overlooking, and it is weight.  If I take my bike over e.g. a speed bump, it goes airborne.  Having gone airborne, it lands.  The impact is noticeable.  Not acute, but noticeable.  Of course the same airborne phenomenon can occur in my car, but not unless I'm going much faster. And the shocks in the car are (my sense, based on experience and common sense, no actual data) far more effective at absorbing shocks -- a function of their quality/design, and highly desirable given the car's greater weight -- without that effectiveness risking bouncing me back into the air again because of the car's weight.  I don't think the same would be true of "good" bike shocks.  And I weigh in the range of 150#, noticeably more than a human infant, no matter how effectively bundled. 

The same basic phenomenon will I think be true in turns, i.e., a light trailer is more likely to swing around/fishtail than is a heavy one.

Obviously there are ways one could compensate for this.  Weight down the trailer.  Build a trailer with great shock-absorption.  Develop an anti-sway hitch for bike trailers.  Bike slowly and cautiously on smooth terrain.  But I suspect, given the remarkable design flaws inherent in human infants, that this really isn't a trivial feat.  Clearly there are significant problems involved in keeping them safe in cars as well, and a lot of effort's been put into minimizing the risks that entails.  I don't know that achieving what you are proposing is impossible, but I don't think that just duplicating those effects in a trailer would produce equivalent results, because I don't think the issues involved are exactly the same (i.e. the bumping and swaying of the trailer introduce additional complications).