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Photo by Ruxandra Looft
FAMILY_BikeBaby5_Photo-Ruxandra-LooftThe author's daughter and husband on a bike ride on the High Trestle Trail in Central Iowa.
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Photo by Bobbie Jennings
FAMILY_BikeBaby3_Photo-Ruxandra-LooftRuxandra Looft with her one-year-old daugher using the iBert bike seat and the daily haul.
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Photo by Ruxandra Looft
FAMILY_BikeBabyRide_Photo-Ruxandra-LooftRuxandra's daughter on one of her first bike rides using the iBert child seat on a trail near home.
In my early day of motherhood, I never left the house without a huge diaper bag and an astounding amount of stuff for our baby. Carrying so much stuff gave me the illusion of being prepared, come what may, but it was also a barrier to bike rides. I soon realized that babies don’t require all that much as long as their basic needs are met. So to lighten the load, I pared down our baby gear to just the essentials.
Finding the Right System for Us
While our daughter never took to a bike trailer, we had great success with a front-mounted bike seat. Now we ride every day using the iBert front-mounted child seat. Our daughter loves being able to see what’s ahead and I love being able to interact with her, naming the things we pass and watching her reaction to the various sights along our journey.
Baby’s First Bike Ride
We stuck to quiet trails near our house and plotted a short one-mile trip to get us used to steering with the child seat and riding with the extra passenger. We watched her reaction and allowed for the possibility of having to come home sooner than planned. Our daughter loved the ride, and it was me who needed a few more outings before I felt confident and secure in my baby bike chauffeuring abilities. Now we easily cover up to 10 miles (16 km) a day going to the store, the library, a park or a friend’s house.
The Daily Haul
Since we’ve opted for a bike seat rather than a trailer or a cargo bike, my carrying space consists of the plastic crate fastened to my rear rack. While it may not seem like much, I’m always surprised by how much I can actually fit in there. This is what I take with me:
1. A picnic blanket and some board books.
2. A water bottle for me and a sippy cup for her.
3. My oversized purse, containing a wallet, phone, lotion, sunscreen, lunch for us both and my bike lock.
4. A diaper pouch.
As long as the weather’s nice, I’m likely carrying a picnic blanket for impromptu stops at the park. That is, after all, the fun of commuting by bike – impromptu stops and easy access to green spaces!
I skip the oversized diaper bag in favor of a small pouch that’s just the right size to hold a few diapers, a change of clothes and a pack of wipes. By keeping it light and compact, I can toss the diaper pouch into my bike crate without adding much bulk. I like the Tom Bihn Snake Charmer pouch with see-through mesh pockets and two compartments for easy organization, but any pouch will do.
Biking Through the Seasons
As the seasons change, so do the contents of my bike basket: the picnic blanket gets swapped for extra layers of clothing, an umbrella might join the diaper pouch and snacks, and toys and books get rotated. The beauty of bicycling with your child is that the seasons take on a new meaning: we experience the first chill in the air firsthand, and that first hot cocoa on a cool day tastes all the better for it.
When traveling on two wheels, our surroundings come to life in new and meaningful ways. And all it takes is a bike, a child carrier and the willingness to go.
Our daughter loved the ride, and it was me who needed a few more outings before I felt confident and secure in my baby bike chauffeuring abilities.
5 Ways to Tell Baby is Enjoying the Bike Ride
1. Baby is laughing and babbling.
2. Baby is pointing to sights.
3. Baby accepts her helmet.
4. She’s relaxed enough to move around and look up at you.
5. When she gets tired, she’s comfortable enough to nap.
Ruxandra Looft is a freelance writer and editor who loves nothing more than biking with her daughter. Originally from Romania, she now calls the Midwest home.