Cycling with Very Young Children

This video by Blanche is a very useful one that follows the story of a couple that was determined to bike tour and ride with their young son. This couple has done a great deal of research on how to ride safely with a baby, and they started riding with their son very early. They definitely used a bike child trailer, sought a lot of professional advice, and most importantly, ride very slowly, but they have been successful in riding with their baby. Anyhow, this video is very useful for family cycling, but you should always talk with your doctor before riding with your child.

Cycletouring + Camping in Baby Steps from Blanche on Vimeo.Editor’s Note: I incorrectly referenced Adventure Cycling in an earlier version of this post and failed to give proper reference to the creator of this video. Blanche, I do apologize.

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6 thoughts on “Cycling with Very Young Children”

  1. Jenn says:

    I have not so much a comment about safety or trailers but about idealized videos of parents with young children pedaling along in Holland, on a separated track far from cars.

    Idealizing traveling with small kids- no meltdown comforting a sobbing baby while making camp dinner by the fire, no poop or in the even of traveling with really young babies breastfeeding snafus are kind of hilarious. No honest talk about being incredibly hungry and breastfeeding while riding or needing to change clothes constantly. Or dealing with a feverish kid on the road. Most of us who are parents parents that travel- deal with comfortably- but do deal with funny scary real things on the road. This is more like an ad for gas central heating on bikes complete with mood music. The out takes might be more fun.

    Leaving these little moments out takes all the color out of the full picture of the experience of ” adventure cycling” with one or more kids on a bike.

    When cycling with my kids when babies I always found it better to sit and feed a baby until it was totally finished at one go and ready to sleep instead of stringing them along “bench to bench” for miles.

  2. Friedel says:

    As the mum featured in the video, I’d like to reply.

    Bike touring so far with Luke has been relatively easy for us. The “idealized” world of bike paths far from cars is a reality for us in our daily cycling lives. It’s not a reality that everyone is fortunate enough to have but it is our reality.

    As for idealizing bike touring in general, I have to say that so far cycling with Luke has been fairly easy for us. I’m sure for some parents it is harder. Every kid and every trip is different – but why show complications that aren’t yet there?

    I also don’t think we need to make people unnecessarily scared or overcomplicate something to the point where people think “I’m not going to do that because it’s just too hard”. The number of people who told us that bike touring would end when we had a kid is staggering. Clearly there’s a perception that a family + bike touring is just not possible and I suppose we would like to show that having a kid doesn’t necessarily mean giving up the things you love. You can share those things with that child.

    Now, I’m sure that bike touring as a family will hold some challenges. After all, we’ve only just started. Give us a few more years and I’m sure we’ll have some tales to tell.

    Heck, even our upcoming 3-week tour of Europe is sure to yield a moment or two… we’ll be leaving the “safe” cycling grounds of the Netherlands and since we’ll be gone for a longer time, we won’t be able to plan around things like weather as well as we do now for shorter weekend trips. I am going to try and make a video of that trip and if I have the presence of mind to get the camera out when Luke is howling, I’ll include those clips too. Maybe I’ll just have to tell you about it afterwards, because I’m sure that when he is howling my instinct will be to fix it, not film it.

    I guess I’ve gone on long enough but I did want to reply briefly to your comments on the bench story. We weren’t deliberately stringing Luke along for miles from bench to bench. Each time he would quiet down and we thought he’d had enough to eat but then would start crying again, a minute or two after we put him in the trailer and started riding again. He was having a hard time (as young babies frequently do). We were doing our best to deal with it.

    These are the experiences you learn from as a parent. Do we always get it right? Of course not. No parent does. Maybe in hindsight we could have managed it differently (leaving earlier would have helped!) but at the time this was what we did.

  3. This is a very productive discussion! I am not a parent, so it’s harder to cover the family cycling aspect of utility cycling at this point in my life, so this is very useful. Thanks for the thoughtful comments!

  4. Blanche says:

    Hi Jenn, I’m a cyclist, wanna be non mum, and the maker of this video.

    First of all the purpose of this video wasn’t idealizing, it’s a portrait of my friends and parents as they experience the cycling with a little baby. So it’s their honnest personal opinion. In fact during the filming of the interviewtracks I did ask the questions people would ask who are contra cycling with baby’s such as ‘arn’t you selfish’ , isn’t it a lot of trouble, ins’t it dangerous, is it still fun? All of their honest answers to this questions are in this video. So nothing idealizing. But this is the view of these particular parrents. One of my voice overs says that the most important thing to do when you’re considering cycling with you’re childeren is listen to your heart and to your child. If you don’t feel good about it, just listen to your feeling and don’t do it.

    About the traffic and howling shots. There is a howling shot in this video. Sorry I didn’t film the howling at 03.00 o’clock as it was raining and I didn’t feel like getting out of my tent. But hey baby’s do howl even if you stay at home. 😉 As for the traffic – even in the Netherlands you have to look out. We were planning to do a shot the next day about that but because it rained my friends choosed to ride to the nearest train station to get home with their baby. So we couln’t finish the film. And we were to buzzy with packing our tent in the rain to get the camera out. Afther all I’m not a professional 😉

  5. Friedel says:

    Here’s how our trip worked out:

    On the whole, I have to say it still wasn’t very hard or traumatic cycling with Luke. He’s a lovely little boy, and we only had one real nighttime episode in the tent, which lasted about 15 minutes. The next morning we noticed a new tooth – perhaps the reason for the crying??

    We timed our cycling carefully to coincide with naps and limited our distance so we wouldn’t feel pressured to go too far on any one day. The hardest part for us was finding smooth roads – many of the low-traffic routes we found were also quite bumpy!

  6. Rodney says:

    As a family cyclist, early trips with my children lasted about two miles. Enough to get to the playground, let them work off pent up energy, then ride back home.

    As they have aged, their tolerance for being in the trailer and/or trail a bike has grown. I’m able to “pull” them for upwards of 8-10 miles before any breaks are needed.

    I have had melt downs occur, it’s bound to happen. As a parent, it is up to me to manage and diffuse any thing that happens. Preplanning for such makes the most out of your trip. Parents have to accept the distances are going to be determmined by the child during such times.

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