As Tanya Snyder recently wrote, it’s pretty easy to be discouraged from biking after having a baby. She made a good point that there is not a lot of information out there for parents (especially moms) about how to bike with their baby:
No one at the hospital made sure I had a child bike seat properly installed before I went home. None of the parenting websites and blogs I read list “old enough for a bike trailer” as a milestone. There are other cyclists in my mom’s group, but somehow no one talks about getting back in the saddle the way we talk about the challenges of going back to work or getting babies on a sleep schedule.
Well, that inspired me to share. I biked up until about 2 weeks before I gave birth, started biking again at about 3 months after my daughter was born, and have been biking with my daughter since she was 8 months old.
When I discovered that I was pregnant, one of my first questions to my doctors was “can I still bike?” Thankfully, my doctors were pro-activity and gave me the “ok” for biking.
|Biking the Golden Gate with my hubby at 6 months pregnant|
But, when people (like my mom) found out that I was still biking, many thought I was crazy. Some comments I recall were “that can’t be safe?”, “should you be doing that in your condition?” Now, these concerns are valid for pregnant women who don’t bike regularly; losing your balance and falling off a bike because your centre of gravity has shifted would be a scary situation.
When it became impossible to get on my trusty Super Cycle (at about 7 months), I went and bought a DeVinci Paris step-through. It was a step-up in terms of cycle-chic, but more importantly it allowed me to keep riding until 9 months. My last ride was on New Year’s Day 2011 and my daughter was born on January 17 (my expected due date was January 7). And, ladies, don’t kid yourself … I still gained 30 lbs while pregnant!
Getting back in the saddle
Well, then what? Tanya mentioned pushing a baby out your bike-seat anatomy… I think that sums it up. Yet, like Tanya’s husband, mine kept cycling (every day to work in fact) and it wasn’t long before I developed peddle-envy.
At some point, you’ll be ready to make that post-baby peddle. For me, it was around 3 months. And, no lie, getting back on the saddle wasn’t comfortable those first couple of rides, but wow, it sure felt good to feel the breeze in my helmet again. Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I imagined, but I am guessing this varies woman-to-woman.
An extra passenger
That’s great, you say, but what about taking baby with you? Well, that opens quite a can of worms. First, bike trailer manufacturers usually state that bike trailers should not be used for babies under 1 year old. Why is 1 the magic age? I’m sure liability has a lot to do with it, much like harmless toys saying 3+. There is concern that babies younger than 12 months old cannot handle the jostling that happens during biking. Then there are provinces like BC, that have mandatory helmet laws, where until your baby’s head can fit a bike helmet, they are a no-go on the bike.
After quite a bit of researching, my husband found some useful stuff. An article in Momentum Magazine discussed Bicycling with Newborns. None of the pediatric injury researchers contacted for the article knew of any supporting evidence that vibrations from normal biking would cause brain damage in babies. A data geek dad used an accelerometer to test the G-forces a baby would get during certain activities including biking. It was interesting to read about parents who had done Bike Touring With A Baby, as well. Granted, the children in these case studies were near or past the 1 year mark.
After reading these articles and what the Province of BC gave us, we decided to first see if a bike helmet would fit our daughter. At 8 months old, our daughter was plenty strong enough to sit unsupported. With a little help from a hat, the helmet stayed on and she could even hold her head up with it on. So, we figured it was time to get her a trailer.
|Daughter’s maiden voyage|
We picked up the MEC Child Trailer Single with an infant insert. When we got her in the trailer with her helmet on it was apparent there was some awkwardness with wearing a helmet and sitting in the trailer. It did seem a bit ridiculous to have a helmet on her when she was strapped in with a 5-point harness and surrounded by steel. However, as law-abiding citizens we kept the helmet on her.
Then we started enjoying all kinds of family bike adventures. We have found that our daughter enjoys the ride and often falls asleep in the trailer. We hope that by starting early, she will grow up loving her bikes, be safe and confident riding them, and enjoy the sense of freedom that comes with two-wheeled travel.