Front seat, back seat, tag along or family bike? When can you start biking with your baby and how do you get ready? The SF Bicycle Coalition is here to help. Our unique class, “Biking with Babies: Pregnancy to Toddlers,” is held quarterly at public libraries and other community spaces and taught by experienced biking parents. In one hour we address every question from “how long can I bike while pregnant?” to “when will my child be ready to ride on their own?”
Our wonderful community partner Natural Resources, a resource center for parents and babies, hosted our Biking with Babies class in July for 20 parents and parents-to-be. Babies and toddlers attended on the rug, on laps or napping in this comfortable community space. SF Bicycle Coalition member and parent champion Tim Hickey addressed the group, sharing how he adapted to city biking, how his wife biked while pregnant, and what they learn as they continue biking with their now 7-year-old son, Liam, as he grows.
Here are a few tips Tim shared with the class:
- When to start: Your baby needs to be able to sit up and have enough head strength to wear a helmet. This is typically between 9 and 12 months. Talk to your pediatrician before you start.
- Front seat or back seat? It’s fun to have baby up front. Know that the front seat carries 35 lbs at the most, and some parents may find the bike harder to maneuver.
- ABC quick check plus: You’ll need to carry more stuff for your baby, so invest in a basket and panniers for snacks, layered clothing and diapers. In addition to checking your ABC (air, brakes and chain), look out for dangling straps!
- Plan ahead: If it’s been awhile since you’ve biked, get comfortable riding on your own before you add your baby. Consider attending one of our adult bicycle education classes before you start biking with your little one. Then try out easier routes and bike at less stressful times before embarking on busier roads with your child.
- Get social: Introduce yourself to other biking families in your play group, school and neighborhood. You’ll share experiences, find riding buddies, and be able to swap gear as your children grow.
- Is an electric-assist family bike a good investment? It may be, if you want to ride longer distances and climb hills more easily. You can also carry more than one child or give a ride to older children who are not ready to bike on our city streets.
Tim concluded the class with video clips of his son Liam on a balance bike at age two, and riding on his own at Golden Gate Park’s car-free Healthy Saturdays. After the presentation, parents were able to get an up-close look at the two family/cargo bikes, balance bike, and baby seats on display.The SF Bicycle Coalition’s free family biking workshops for all ages and stages also include Freedom From Training Wheels and Test Ride a Family Bike at most Sunday Streets. We lead family-friendly bike rides and teach older children skills, often in partnership with the Presidio YMCA’s YBike program. All our family programs are free, thanks to SF Safe Routes to School, MTC-Spare the Air Youth program, and our members’ generous donations.
Check out our calendar and join us for our next class!