Best Bike Seats for Kids Buying Guide
Biking is a wonderful activity with so many benefits. It gets you out for some healthy sun exposure and fresh air, it promotes fitness, and is good for your cardiovascular system. It gives you all that without harming the environment. As if that wasn’t enough, it is a real viable mode of transportation, too. For your kids, introducing cycling is a great way to get them outside for some healthy play. It helps them to get familiar with their immediate surroundings and keeps them engaged and active during travel. And experts agree that children who spend more time in outdoor activities are more confident, more independent, more social, and more creative. Who wouldn’t want that for their growing children?
So if you’re a bike lover, we completely understand why you would want to get your child into the habit of biking. The good news is that you won’t have to wait until your child can balance and pedal on his own bicycle. You can get him engaged and interested by letting him get on your bike as a passenger while he is as young as 9 to 12 months old. And one of the ways to do this is to take them on a bike ride with you on their very own bicycle seat and we have the low down on how to pick the best seat for your child.
To begin with, taking your child on your bike as a passenger carries with it a certain amount of risk. And while there aren’t so many reported incidents on toddlers riding bicycle seats, you will still want to have a look at safety regulations regarding these child restraining devices. In some parts of the world where biking is considered an option for commuting, child bike seats are regulated by the government. So you will want to look if the brand you are looking to buy has the seal of approval from the appropriate government department. They will also have guidelines as to what kinds of bike seats – such as front seat or rear seat – are allowed on the streets.
For example, giving children rides on adult bicycles is something more of a leisurely pursuit in the US so there is a limited number of approved seats, and almost all of them are rear mounted seats. This means that you will probably not find a front seat that has any sort of government seal on it. Whereas in the UK and parts of Europe, biking is a major means of transportation and so they have a wide variety of front and rear seats that have passed government regulation. If you know that there is no such regulation in your part of the world, then you can use your best judgement on whether you should let your child have a ride on your bike on a bicycle seat.
Type of Bike
If you decide that, yes, you want to take your little one with you on your bike, then you should have a look at your bicycle to check what kind of child seat can be mounted on its frame. For instance, if the top tube of your bicycle is under 51 centimeters you might have to forget about installing a front mounted child seat. This is because such a seat will probably take about 25 centimeters of space, leaving you very little room to bike comfortably.
On the other hand, rear seats have two mounting options. One is through a special mounting rack that attaches to your bike. This means that your bike needs to have mounting eyelets at the rear wheel in order to use the rack properly. Without those eyelets, you are better off using a frame mounted rear child seat.
Front Mount vs Rear Mount
Once you have checked your ride for compatibility with a bike seat, you should decide if you are going to purchase a front mounted child bike seat or a rear mounted seat. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and your choice will depend on what you value most in moving around on a bike. On the one hand, front mounts are fun for little children because they get to see more things in front of them. And because they are seated in front of you, it is easier for them to turn around and talk to you if they feel that they need to. You might also like that you can see whatever they are doing as it is much easier for you to check on them during the ride. However, front mounted seats are not advisable if you have a bigger kid because their height might obstruct your view. Additionally, your front mount might cause you to pedal awkwardly with your knees angled too far out, causing sores and possible injury in the long run.
On the other hand, rear mounts are safer in case of a bicycle accident because you can protect your child by breaking his fall. Being in front of your child also allows your body to be a wind shield to protect him from the cold, as well as a sleep roll should he fall asleep on the ride. If you have long legs, you will appreciate that with a rear mount you will be able to pedal and steer your bike unobstructed. This will allow you to bike a longer distance with your child before you get tired. But one disadvantage is that you will not be able to constantly look around to check on your child. So it may not be for you if you tend to worry a little bit too much.
Size and Age of Child
Once you have decided on the kind of mount that you want, you will want to consider the size and age of your child. Most rear mounts will be able to seat a child up to 18kg but you might find a preschooler sized seat that can accommodate a child up to 30kg. It is generally not recommended to seat a child under 12 months old in a front mount because of the potential harm it could cause them even in a minor accident.
Safety Belt and Foot Straps
For babies and toddlers, pick a seat that has at least a 3-point harness to keep them securely in their seat. If you can find one with a 5-point harness, that’s even better. This is not something you want to compromise because little children tend to be squirm around in their seats and you certainly would not want them to slip out. Additionally, look for one with secure foot straps so that your little one’s feet won’t accidentally slip into the rear wheels. If you have a bigger child, such as a preschooler, who you can trust to ride safely behind you, then you can forgo these features and go for a simpler model.
High Back Rest
A high back rest isn’t as important for bigger children, but it is for toddlers and babies who tend to fall asleep during rides. You also want the seat to be high on either side to avoid your child falling off from the side. If you are getting a front mount, you might want to get one with a sleep roll as toddlers tend to slump forward when they fall asleep. This way, they have somewhere to put their hands and head so they can nap safely.
Weight of the Seat
Unless you have legs of steel you will have to pay attention to the weight of the seat itself. You want to make sure that it isn’t already too heavy for you before you put your child in it so that you can travel farther without expending too much additional energy. You also don’t want it to be too heavy for you at the rear that it affects your balance and your ability to pedal up or downhill.
Ease of Unmounting
More often than not, a child bike seat is a permanent mount on a bike in that you wouldn’t really need to constantly install and uninstall it. But if for any reason you would need the option of having a “removable” bike seat, then pick a model that can be quickly unmounted from your bicycle. These types of seats are usually called frame mounts because they attach to your bike’s frame as opposed to models that attach to a bike rack.
A warranty is usually a mark of the manufacturer’s confidence in their product. Since we are dealing with the safety of your precious little one, you will want to have a look at the manufacturer’s guarantee. This also ensures that you will be able to have your seat exchanged in case you get an inferior product, although that should be unlikely.
Thumbs up from Experienced Family Bikers
One of the best resources for feedback on bike seats are those who already use them. You probably know people who are biking enthusiasts like yourself and they probably have gone out cycling with their babies as well. They should be happy to share their experiences with you and whether or not they are happy with their child bike seat.
Tips for Biking with Your Child
- When you first install your child bike seat, have a feel for the bike’s new handling before you put your child in his seat. Practice with a heavy sack of produce on the bike seat to get used to the new balance, then start with your kid in a low traffic area and over a short distance.
- Even if you are an experienced biker, there is simply no way to anticipate untoward incidents. Therefore, you want to practice safety first. So before you allow your child to go biking with you on his bike seat, make sure that he understands that he must wear his helmet and that the message is consistent. Never let him on his seat if he refuses to wear a helmet.
- Purchase a strong twin kickstand for your bicycle so that you can seat your child securely on his mount even if you are alone. But never leave him alone and unattended in his bike seat.
- You will be spending a lot of time under the sun so don’t neglect your baby’s delicate skin. Protect him from sunburn by applying some sunscreen on all exposed areas of his skin. Make sure that the sunscreen you use is appropriate for his age. Alternatively, dress him warmly for biking during the cold months. You will also want to moisturize his skin and lips to keep them from chapping. If your child will be riding in a front mount, you can purchase a wind shield to break the wind and keep him from getting too cold.
- Before you start out on your adventure check again for anything that could get caught in the bike’s wheels. Check your child’s shoe laces, scarves, and any article of clothing that could dangle and get caught.
We are certain that your child will be delighted when he finds out that he is going out for a bicycle ride with you and we know that you won’t be able to contain your excitement at the prospect of sharing one of your passions with your kids. This is why we at ParentsNeed HQ sorted through and tested a whole lot of bike seats that could accommodate kids from 9 months and up until we could compile the Top 5 Best Bike seats for Preschool Aged Kids and the Top 5 Best Bike Seats for Toddlers. Each one of our picks promises great quality and a fun, safe ride. We simply love the simplicity of our top pick, the Bobike Junior Rear Child Seat. This slim and lightweight rack-mounted model could easily please the confident older child who doesn’t like his movements restricted while being your willing passenger. Even so, the basic, no-frills seat provides a safety harness for your peace of mind. For toddlers, we simply adore the WeeRide LTD Kangaroo Child Bike Seat. The cushy seat and sleep roll will make sure your baby enjoys a comfortable ride while staying safely tucked in.