Child seats

A front mounting child seat Credit: Lionel Shapiro

9 months to 3 years approx

A baby should be able to hold its head up unsupported, and with a helmet on, before s/he is carried in a child seat. This is usually between 9 to 18 months; you may wish to consult your GP if you’re feeling unsure.

You will need to choose between a front or rear mounting child seat. The British Standard for child seats is BS EN 14344:2004; look for a seat that conforms to this. These include seats which are designed for children between 9 and 22kg (9 months – 5 years) and seats designed for children between 9 and 15kg. Make sure your child is within the weight range of the seat you choose.

These seats should all come with a good restraint system (harness) with a child-proof quick release buckle.

Front mounting seats make setting off easier than rear mounting seats, as you can get on the bike and then lift the child up, rather than having to hold the bike and the weight of the child upright as you climb on. They also make conversation with the child easier and increase awareness of the environment and the cycling experience.

However, front mounting seats can reduce the bicycle’s manoeuvrability and can affect steering and balance, and the child may be thrown forwards when the rider brakes. If you do choose a front- mounting seat, make sure it fits between the rider and the handlebars rather than in front of the handlebars.

Always make sure the seat is suitable for use with your type of bicycle before buying it, and if the seat is designed to be mounted on a carrier, make sure that the carrier can take the weight of the seat and the child. If you are unsure about mounting the seat yourself, ask your cycle dealer about seat fitting.

When your child is in the seat, always make sure the harness is fastened, and every time you use the seat check that the fastenings are all tight, yet comfortable.
If you’ve never ridden with a child on board before, practise riding off-road or on quiet roads to get used to the effect the extra load has on steering and stopping.

The seat should have a footguard or rest to prevent feet from getting caught in the spokes, and make sure hands can’t get caught in any parts. Make sure to take care when getting on and off the bike. Pay particular attention to supporting the cycle when you are not riding it but while your child is still in the bike seat: the weight of a child can unbalance the bike and cause
it to fall.