Bikes and babies – get cycling!
There’s so much to enjoy on a bike – the freedom to explore, the speed, the adventure. Whether you’re an enthusiastic, reluctant or beginner cyclist yourself, getting on your bike with small children opens up everyone’s worlds: you can go further and faster while still feeling the breeze and sun on your face (and, let’s be honest, the wind and rain sometimes!).
We’ve got lots to say about the joys of cycling, so watch out for more coming soon! This post’s all about getting on your bike with your baby, toddler or pre-schooler before they’re off on their own. For the why and the how… read on!
The bike advantage
Getting on your bike with kids is a great move for so many reasons. For starters, once you’ve got your kit sorted, pedal power is free! And it means you can get around quicker and easier without little legs getting tired from walking.
The NHS recommends all children get 60 minutes exercise everyday and this should include both moderate and vigorous activity. The worrying news is that figures suggest less than a third of children in England meet these recommendations.
The good news is that cycling will help – a leisurely ride on the flat ticks the moderate box, while going faster and including the hills gets your vigorous activity done. And rather than an add-on to a busy day, switching a drive for a cycle ride is a way to incorporate exercise into your everyday routines.
So regular bike rides, even before they’re biking themselves, is a great way to normalise physcial activity and ensure your children get their hour a day from the very start.
Being a role model
If you’re not a confident cyclist, go out on your own first to get used to it. And look for cycle routes and lanes in your local area if possible. Not having to worry about cars will make your first journeys a lot more enjoyable. Sustrans have maps of cycle routes, both on and off road, throughout the UK.
You don’t have to wait until children are old enough to pedal to get them on a bike. The range of trailers and seats available now mean you can strap them in and let them enjoy the ride. As well as boosting your own fitness and wellbeing, you’re ‘biking the talk’. They’ll see that they can get around on the bike, that it’s normal to do so and it’s a chance to point out local scenery to them as you ride.
When they’re a little older (18 months plus, usually), getting them on a balance bike is a great way for them to scoot around and get a feel for using their body for stability. This makes the transition to pedal bikes so much easier, and means you probably won’t need stabilisers.
Getting the right kit
The range of bikes, bike seats, trailers and tagalongs out there is huge, and daunting. A specialist bike shop will be able to help.
In general, a bike seat is suitable for babies from 9 months – once they can sit unsupported confidently. It is possible to ride with front and rear bike seats if you have two children, but this can be unwieldy, so consider double trailers. For more on your seat and trailer options, Cycling UK has good advice.
Helmets for everyone are essential. And don’t forget warm clothes and waterproofs for your passenger – they’re not going to be working up a sweat the way you are (we can help with lovely breathable base layers and waterproofs to keep them cosy!).
Remember to pack water and snacks for everyone, and you’re all set! Happy adventuring!