Family biking

How to ride safely with your toddler or infant

When can I ride with my baby?

Children under one year of age should not ride in a trailer or bike seat. Babies do not have sufficient neck strength to support the weight of a helmet or to control head movement during a sudden stop (American Academy of Pediatrics).

Helmet safety for babies/toddlers
  • All children who ride in a trailer or child seat must wear bicycle helmets.
  • A properly fitted helmet provides maximum protection against head injury.
  • Occasionally toddler helmets will not fit a child older than one. Wait until the child grows big enough to fit into a toddler helmet or consult a professional about proper fitting.
  • Bicycle helmets are designed for one fall. Any helmet that has been through a crash should be replaced even if it appears to have no damage.
  • All bicycle helmets sold today must meet the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) standard. Look for a sticker inside the helmet.
  • Do not buy an oversized helmet for a child to grow into. Do not buy a used helmet since you do not know if it has been in a crash.
What to look for in a trailer:
  • ASTM safety standards sticker
  • A full metal roll-cage
  • 16 or 20-inch wheels with inflatable tires: they roll on uneven surfaces more easily
  • A rotating hitch that allows the trailer to remain upright even if the bicycle falls or is laid on its side
  • A safety flag 
What to look for in a bike-mounted seat:
  • ASTM safety standards sticker
  • A back that comes up around the child’s head
  • Sides that wrap around the child
  • Straps that connect around shoulders, waist, and between legs
  • Straps for the feet in the foot wells (so that feet don’t get caught in the wheel or brakes)
Trailers vs. child seats:
  • TRAILERS can hold more weight than a child seat.
  • TRAILERS can hold up to two children and can hold toys and snacks.
  • In TRAILERS, the child does not need to be lifted to the height of the adult bike.
  • Some TRAILERS can double as strollers.
  • TRAILERS are lower to the ground and so have a shorter distance to fall when overturned.
  • TRAILERS have flexible hitches and remain upright even if the adult bike falls.
  • CHILD SEATS usually cost less.
  • SEATS are more compact.
  • SEATS allow the child to view his or her surroundings more easily.
  • Bike-mounted CHILD SEATS have the potential to destabilize the bike if the child moves abruptly or if the parent is not accustomed to the added weight.

Children should never ride on handlebars or a top tube or in a baby backpack.