When we had our first baby one of the things that hit me like a freight train was the realisation that a baby actually doesn’t do very much. Of course I thought she was the most beautiful baby ever born. Of course I sent endless WhatsApp messages to everyone we knew when she first burped, smiled, rolled over, but let’s face it, in terms of what you can actually enjoy together, it is pretty limited.
Every tried going for a walk with a toddler? No, not in the buggy. A toddler actually toddling. It is SLOW. Pop him in the buggy? More progress but still a limited range. Run? I tend to find my focus is on breathing/staying alive.
This is where the bike comes in. We found that we could talk to them and later on, them to us. We could point things out, laugh, wave. Enjoy the experience together. The kids loved being up high, giggled when the wind blew in their faces, shrieked at us when we went downhill but more than anything they were actively involved in the experience.
And at age three Emmy is still the one in control. She indicates left and right with a 50% accuracy rate, shouts words of encouragement like “Mummy that car is beating us, pedal faster!” and the most magical of all, points out a world of wonderful things that only a toddler can see.
The bike has an incredible ability to send kids to sleep and I’m sure it’s not just mine. Frequently we’d end up with them happily snoozing, and as our kids never napped in the cot, this felt like a minor miracle!
I’m not going to pretend that it wasn’t scary when I set off for the first time with the most precious thing in the world perched on board. Of course it was. But do you know what, I don’t think I’d do anything with my kids if I listened to the “What If” voice.
Is it always plain sailing? Hell no! We had tears when they were tired/hungry/in a grump. We had tears when they didn’t want their helmet on…usually resolved with a snack. We discovered that letting your toddler take their dolly on the back of the bike was a big no-no. In fact, anything that can fall off, will off. I’ll never forget the look on a passerby’s face when dolly went under the wheel. We learnt that shoes don’t stay on. When they’re small it’s much better to go for an All-in-One with built-in feet. Babies don’t have necks and so the helmet strap often ends up in their mouth. Gloves or turnover sleeves are a must. Little hands get cold easily. And on that theme, don’t let your husband teach your toddler to tickle you as you go along. No amount of bribery will ever get them to stop. I’ve included below the equipment we used and things we learnt, but ultimately you will find the way that works for you.
Wouldn’t it be great, if in 10 years time, your kids hop on their own bikes, happy and healthy, and remember the giggles, fun and adventure you had together? In my eyes, that’s worth giving it a go.
What equipment did we use?
Bike Seat: Our neighbour gave us our first seat and the other was from a second-hand facebook group. We preferred the pannier rack seats. They felt more stable than those attached to a seat post and had nice high sides, three point harness and lap bar. You can pick them up for about £15-£20 second hand, new they are more like £110. The two brands we have are Co-Pilot and Topeak. Both of which we’d recommend.
Helmet: We tried on loads and really just went for the best fit. You want one which covers their forehead, a good shop will properly fit it for you. Neutral colours are always good to cascade down!
KickStand: I would highly recommend getting a double leg centre kickstand on your bike to make it easier to keep the bike steady while you take your baby on and off.
When they want to stop, you stop. Early on we took the decision that our rides had to be enjoyed together. This meant that if we passed a play park and they wanted to have a play we just hopped off the bikes and had a play. It seemed to work. Of course, if you plan your routes carefully then this can actually be on your terms too!
Do you have any questions? Please use the comments to ask away. If I can’t answer them, I’ll point you in the right direction!
Do you have any tips that i haven’t included? Please use the comments to share them with us!