Best Baby & Child Bike Seat of 2018 & Buying Guide
Nothing beats strapping in your little one for a leisurely bike ride, and even running errands or making the daily daycare commute feels less like a chore when you aren’t trapped in the confines of traffic.
Choosing the best bike seat for your baby, toddler, or older child can feel overwhelming, though: after all, it isn’t a car seat, and there are different regulations and standards to consider before making a purchase.
Our buyer’s guide will help by answering parents’ most commonly asked questions surrounding baby and child bike seats. We’ll also feature a few of our top picks for seats, so you can confidently choose the best option for your little one.
Do I need a special kind of bike to attach a baby or child seat?
Overall, no: commuter bikes, cruiser styles, and touring bikes all feature rear carrier racks that can adequately support a child seat. Some don’t even require that much, because the seat comes with a brace to attach to the top bar or handlebars.
However, it’s a good idea to consider shock absorption and tire size: because the seat will seat directly over your rear tire, the child will feel more bumps than you do and can become jostled more easily.
Make sure your bike has sufficient shock absorption features for the kind of terrain you’ll be tackling, and consider inflating your rear tire a little more than the front, or upgrading your tires altogether.
I have more than one child, and would like to carry all of them with one bicycle. What are my options?
Some bikes’ rear carrier racks are long enough to accommodate two children’s seats; you can also upgrade to a longer carrier rack, depending on your bicycle. Some parents put an older child in a seat on the back, and a younger child or infant in a seat designed for the front of the cycle.
There are alternatives to bike seats, as well, with bike trailers being the most popular option. These look similar to strollers, but have thicker tires, no handle, and attach to the back of your bicycle.
Look for models that have a stability feature in their attachment, meaning if you fall down or the bike tips, the trailer will remain upright. These models usually come with mesh screens, as well, so your children can enjoy nature—without the bugs!
Some bikes have a built-in stroller at the front of the bike, too. The parent sits on the back half, which resembles a regular bike; the front wheel extends to the front of the stroller portion.
Additionally, there are options like pedaling trailers; these resemble a children’s bike, but don’t have a front wheel. Your child gets the fun of biking with you, and you get the reassurance that they’re always nearby. Some models allow the child to contribute to pedaling, while others have pedals strictly for balance or fun.
Tandem and family bikes have multiple seats, pedals, and handlebars incorporated into the frame, so everyone can cycle at once. These are best for older kids who can ride their own bikes, too (with or without training wheels); some have options for baby seats and trailers to be added.
Finally, there are specialty trailers that feature one or two child seats and a bike-trailer setup, so one older child and two younger ones can share the trailer comfortably. Customized options are a good route for parents of multiples higher than twins.
In short, there are many, many options for parents with more than one child joining them on bike rides! The right choice is one that suits your current bike (or one you plan to buy), fits all your children comfortably, and makes all of you feel safe while riding.
How long can my baby/toddler/child use the same seat?
Bike seats will indicate the ideal height and weight ranges for that model, so keep track of your child’s growth and upgrade to a larger seat as soon as they meet the height or weight maximum.
Some bike seats and trailers are designed to grow with your child, and will last longer (but might cost more, as well).
Keep in mind that some front-mounted seats tend to have a very low weight limit, while options like trainer trailers—a child’s bike without a front wheel, attached to the back of the adult bike—are only suitable for kids over a certain height and age.
Can I get a used baby or child bike seat?
A second-hand child’s seat for a bike should meet the same requirements as a second-hand car seat: no history of accidents or impacts; no signs of wear in the frame, straps, or buckle components; and adherence to modern safety standards.
Used seats are a cost-effective option, but inspect them thoroughly before purchase. Try to find ones that still include the original warranty and safety manuals, as well. Sterilize and clean every part of the seat before use.
It’s generally best to purchase second-hand child seats from cyclists you know and trust, rather than strangers; some bike equipment shops will also provide quality used seats, because they know what to look for in order for a seat to be resold safely.
When in doubt, buy new. That extra money is well worth the reassurance of knowing your child is in an updated seat with no murky past or unknown defects.
Does my child still need a helmet if they’re in a bike seat that extends higher than their head?
Yes. While helmets don’t exist for children younger than 12 months of age, this is because it’s not advisable to take your child along on bike rides until they’re a year old. This includes seats, carriers, and other accessories.
Even if you consider yourself the world’s safest cyclist, babies younger than a year don’t have to crash to sustain injury: the normal bumps and jostling of a bike ride, even on paved roads, can cause brain trauma. They can’t properly support their head and brace their bodies, and no amount of stabilization via shock absorbers or padding is worth the risk. In fact, it’s illegal in many states to take a child under 12 months on a bicycle, even if they’re big enough to wear a helmet.
All children, no matter their age, should wear a helmet while on a bicycle or bike accessory of any kind. It doesn’t matter if you’re cruising slowly through a safe, quiet neighborhood, or if you’re touring a long country road with plenty of ruts and rocks.
Helmets should fit your child properly and securely, and be replaced as soon as they sustain an impact—even if it’s a small one, and no visible damage is evident. This applies to crashes, children dropping or throwing their helmets onto a hard surface, and outdated or disintegrating materials.
Best Baby/Child Bike Seat Reviews
1. LTD Kangaroo Child Bike Seat by WeeRide Review
With adjustable foot cups and plush padding, the Kangaroo by WeeRide promises more comfort and less jostling for your little one.
Unlike rear carrier options, this seat sits in front of the rider, attaching to the top bar. The comfortable headrest allows for better bracing during stops and turns, and can allow sleepy little riders to nod off in peace.
With ample support, a unique top-bar attaching design, and a fair price, the Kangaroo is ideal for older infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The adjustable footrests are a pleasant surprise, as well, to keep your child’s legs from dangling and hitting yours while you pedal. We suspect this will be one of the more popular models featured in this guide.
2. Safe-T-Seat from iBert Review
The Safe-T-Seat is unique from other bike seats for a few reasons. It was created by parents, for parents, when too many options on the market failed to deliver.
It sits behind the handlebars in front of the driver, can suit children 12 months to 4 years of age (up to 38 lbs.), and features a combination leg and footrest design that extends past the handlebars.
This design is simple, yet incredibly impressive. Its “U-shape” design lets kids’ legs extend safely forward, avoiding circulation problems or kicks to Mom or Dad like some rear-attaching seats encourage. Kids will love the bright colors and play steering wheel; parents will love the reasonable price, and the fact their child can share in the riding experience more intimately.
3. Schwinn Child Carrier Review
Schwinn, a century-old leader of the cycling industry, offers this simple yet effective option for fans of the basics. It has padding and a headrest, as well as a “wrap-around” design that will make your child feel more secure, as well as better protect them in the event of a crash.
There’s also leg rests, which come with handy shin straps (for backseat riders who can’t help but kick, now and then).
Unfortunately, the one definite flaw in this design is a big one: the fact you can’t attach it to your existing rear carrier rack. If your bike doesn’t have one, this is an excellent option, since the already affordable price will include the rack you need. If, however, you prefer your stock rack (or it’s welded on and can’t be removed), skip the Schwinn.
4. Kids USA Standard Carrier Seat from CyclingDeal Review
Another rear-mount model, the Kids USA seat from CyclingDeal is also the most affordable on this list. It fits children 12 months and up, up to 40 lbs. It includes a mounting rack, and comes in an attractive, gender-neutral gray color scheme.
Other than the fact this won’t work on dual-suspension models, we think this is a model that could work for almost any parent and child. Its design is attractive and comfortable, and it sits comfortably over the back wheel so parents’ pedaling and steering isn’t affected.
Choosing a bike seat for your child is less complicated once you know what kind of seat you’d prefer; whether you want your baby, toddler, or preschooler seated behind or in front of you, there are models to accommodate all needs and almost any bike type on the market.