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Biking with baby

Magdalena Adaś
Biking with baby

As the weather gets nicer, you may be wondering when it’s okay to start biking with baby. Older children manage to ride a bike on their own, while younger ones are still transported in a chair or trailer. What can you do to make the trip not only enjoyable, but also safe? To put your baby on the rack, on the frame, on the handlebars, or in a trailer? Many bicycle brands and manufacturing companies of approved bicycle seats report that they can be used for children as young as 9 months. But what does this look like from a physiotherapist’s perspective? How to safely start biking with baby? I will share some thoughts about bike safety for babies in the following article.

When can you start biking with baby?

From a physiotherapist’s perspective, a toddler should have several essential skills. First and foremost, the baby must be seated. This is a necessary condition for a safe biking with baby. What kind of sitting position should it be? Necessarily a sitting position without assistance, active, that is, one where the baby plays with his hands without touching the floor or supporting himself, and without rolling over for a long time. In addition, it is important that the child is able to assume a sitting position independently and is able to change it to some other position, such as crawling or walking. The should also walk independently, and preferably also run and jump.

And when does the toddler achieve these skills?

  • Sitting: 6-10 month-old,
  • Walking: 12-18 month-old,
  • Running: 18-24 month-old,
  • Jumping: 2-years-old.

In fact, only after mastering all these skills can we be sure that cycling will be safe. You can read more about child development here.

Safe biking with baby

Why is it so important for a child to master these skills? A baby on a bicycle is exposed to many external factors that its muscles must cope with. For example, a child who does not sit up on his own will have trouble maintaining this position in the seat, even strapped in. The moment we turn the bicycle, there will be various forces acting on it, which the toddler will not be able to cope with, and as a result it can be dangerous, not to mention the spine and health consequences in the future. As adult humans, we are able to adjust to the turning of the bicycle and tighten the appropriate muscles. A newborn baby simply won’t be able to do this. Most often, after such a turn, the baby’s whole body is positioned asymmetrically. Since the toddler does not yet control the trunk, it will remain in this asymmetry for the rest of the ride, unless you correct them. To summarise, biking with baby who is not ready for it can contribute to asymmetry, or overload and postural defects in the future.

Baby bike seat

  • First of all, in a bicycle seat we carry babies who have already mastered specific skills, namely sitting, walking and preferably running and jumping. Only then their muscles are strong enough to cope with all the factors during the ride.
  • Secondly, the bicycle seat should have a leg rest that matches the child’s height. It is much easier to keep the torso stable if you have adequate support under the legs. However, let’s remember that a child who has not mastered independent walking will also not be able to support himself well enough with his legs, and won’t maintain adequate trunk stability. That’s why independent walking and the ability to transfer body weight is so important for safety during bicycle riding.
  • Thirdly, when biking with baby, a child’s body must withstand various forces, shocks, vibrations and oscillations. The additional burden of a helmet can negatively affect the spine, especially in children who are not yet walking independently. A child who can already run and jump usually also has adequate deep muscle strength, so they are able to cope with all the forces acting during a bicycle ride.
  • We always carry toddlers in a bicycle seat with a helmet on their head. If the baby protests or is unable to support his torso with the extra weight, we should not carry him on the bike yet.
  • If an infant on a bicycle falls asleep during the ride, the safest thing to do would be to stop the ride and take him out of the seat. This won’t always be possible, so it’s a good idea to have a seat with an adjustable backrest so that you can recline it if the toddler falls asleep and continue riding. Remember that it is not safe to drive with a sleeping toddler, so I recommend that you stop though, take the baby out and wait until he wakes up.

Which bike seat should I choose?

  1. When it comes to bicycle seats, we have many options to choose from – frame-mounted, handlebar-mounted, or rack-mounted. The method of transportation depends on our individual preferences, convenience and whether the toddler needs contact with us or can easily manage on the rack.
  2. The bicycle seat should have a footrest. This is a necessary condition. The footrest must be regulated to adjust the seat to the height of the child. Legs that are properly supported provide stability for the pelvis and spine. Also secure the child’s legs so that they do not fall into the spokes.
  3. A bicycle seat should provide full support for the back and head. It is an inappropriate choice to carry a child in a seat with a helmeted head sticking out of it. This can be a dangerous situation.
  4. The seat of the car seat should be adjustable, i.e. with an adjustable reclining angle.
  5. The best choice from a safety point of view is a five-point belt. This gives the possibility of a good pelvic positioning and not moving the child during the ride.

Bike seat or trailer?

We can transport a baby on a bicycle in a trailer or in a bike seat. We can use the trailer with younger children, as the shocks are somewhat less noticeable in it. However, it is good if the child is already able to assume a sitting position on its own and change it to some other position. Ideally, on the other hand, the child should already be able to walk.

The trailer has a lot of advantages, including:

  • better shock absorption than a bike seat,
  • good stability, even if the bike tips over,
  • the ability to carry two children,
  • transporting children under 1.5 years old,
  • the possibility of sleeping more safely in the bike seat,
  • more space for the baby and for luggage,
  • better protection from rain, wind, sun.

Disadvantages of the trailer:

  • reduced mobility,
  • large size – need to ride on a bike path or roadway,
  • more expensive than a bike seat,
  • designed for city riding rather than the outdoors,
  • difficult contact with the baby.
a baby on a bike, biking, biking with baby, cycling with baby, bicycle
A baby on a bike

Biking with baby and the Polish law

According to traffic regulations, a child can be transported by bicycle up to the age of 7 in a child seat or trailer. There is no information on when the earliest you can start biking with baby, so we follow the recommendations for the development of the child. A person who can carry a child should be at least 17 years old and have a bicycle, moped or driver’s license. For adults, no license is necessary. Children from the age of 10 who have a bicycle card can ride on the roadway in accordance with traffic regulations. Children who do not yet have a bicycle card can ride a bicycle only on the sidewalk. The law treats them as pedestrians. Supervision of a guardian who is also on the sidewalk and moving a pedestrian or bicycle is necessary.


In conclusion, we should not rush into biking with baby. In order to ride a bicycle with a toddler safely, we should assess them for skills. Ideally, the child should already be able to sit, change positions, stand up and walk independently. Ideally, if the toddler runs and jumps independently. Then we are 100% sure that his skeletal and articular system is strong enough to cope with all the forces acting on the body during cycling. A baby on a bicycle should be active, so if he falls asleep, stop the ride.

I wish you a safe journey!



Author: mgr Magdalena Adaś

I am a pediatric physiotherapist. This job is my dream and passion. In addition to directly supporting patients, I try to make sure that the knowledge of proper child care reaches as many parents as possible. Hence my online activities. My materials are used by thousands of parents every month.