Cycling with babies and toddlers: everything you need to get started

Whether you’ve got a newborn on your hands and are already thinking about how soon you can start cycling together, or you’ve got a toddler who’s raring to get going on a balance bike, cycling with babies and toddlers can be a lovely thing to do. 

Of course, since there’s a lot of thought and planning that can go into it, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know to get started. We’ve been through this journey more than once, which is why over the past 12 years, Cycle Sprog has become the go-to source of information for cycling parents.

From safety concerns about carrying babies on bikes, to practical advice on how to get toddlers rolling independently, we’ve written extensively about all things kids’ cycling, and to make this process as easy as possible for you, we’ve collated all our best advice in one place. 

This is a comprehensive guide to cycling with babies and toddlers, broken down into different subjects so you can either read it in its entirety or pick and choose which parts you’re most interested in.

This guide is aimed at parents looking to cycle with children aged between 9 months and 3 years old. Check out our similar guide for cycling with kids for the 3-9 age group, and keep your eyes peeled for a forthcoming guide to cycling with teenagers, if it’s relevant to you.

A close up of Karen and her son on a bike, he's sitting on a front-mounted bike seat and wearing a helmet, holding onto the handlebars. Karen is leaning round to smile at the camera

What age can you cycle with a baby?

Before we get started with the ins and outs of cycling with babies and toddlers, it’s important to first establish at what age it’s safe to put a baby on a bike or tow them along behind you.

The answer to this question will vary, depending on the method you’re using to carry them, so bear this in mind as you work your way through this guide and decide on your carry/pull setup.

  • Newborn: the only safe way to carry a newborn baby by bike is strapped in a car seat fitted to a cargo bike.
  • 9 months: from the age of 9 months it is safe to carry them in front- and rear-mounted bike seats.
  • 1 year: from this age, it’s safe to pull them along in a trailer.


How to start cycling with babies and toddlers

We’ll start with the basics: HOW do you cycle with babies and toddlers? How do you physically carry them, or pull them along behind you?

Depending on where you live, you may or may not have spotted other parents out and about cycling with their children, or seen the vast array of carrying options that are available. Here we’ll look at all these options, so you can decide which one works best for you.

This section is just about how to physically carry your children with you. If you’re looking for advice on getting your toddler rolling independently, skip to the ride-ons and balance bikes section.

If you want a broad overview of the different ways to transport your baby or toddler by bike, we have several useful guides. 7 ways to cycle with a young child, toddler or baby is a good starting point, while our article on how to start cycling with a small child in a bike seat, cargo bike or trailer goes into a bit more detail.

If you’ve got a very little one, you might be interested in our post that answers the questions, can I cycle with my baby in a sling or baby carrier?

If you’re still not sure, then be sure to check out our handy carrying kids by bike questionnaire, as it can help you narrow down your options.

Carrying babies and toddlers by bike

When it comes to babies and toddlers, the most obvious way to take them along on your cycling journey is to carry them on your bike. There are several options to choose from, and they’ll largely depend on their age and size, as well as your physical strength and budget.

Front seat

Lots of parents opt for a front-mounted seat for their bikes, which are suitable for children as young as 9 months old. It’s a great way to have them up front and centre where you can see them and chat to them, and they get the best view! It’s worth bearing in mind however that they will also get the full brunt of the elements if you’re riding in bad weather. They also don’t work with drop handlebars, and if you’re on the shorter side, it can be a bit cramped!

If this sounds like the best option for you, check out our guide to the best front bike seats for toddlers and young children.

A parent cycling with a toddler in a front-mounted bike seat, seen from the side and up close
A young toddler wrapped up to keep warm and wearing a bike helmet, strapped into a rear-mounted bike seat

Rear seat

Another option would be to have a seat mounted to the rear of the bike, so your child is sat behind you. These are also suitable for 9 months and up, and can be a better option if you’ve got drop bars or don’t want to be too cramped up front. 

Rear seats can be mounted either directly to the bike, or placed on top of a rack, so there are lots of options to suit different setups. 

It’s worth noting that with a rear-mounted seat, your child will have a more restricted view, and it’s difficult or impossible for you to wear a backpack.

To explore this option further, take a look at our guide to the best rear bike seats for toddlers and small children.

Cargo bike

There’s a reason cargo bikes are soaring in popularity: we’d say that if your budget allows, then this is the absolute best way to carry your children by bike. They’re purpose built for it, rather than an additional accessory to add to your current bike, where you need to worry about compatibility issues.

There are different types — long-tail, two-wheeled box and three-wheeled box — so start by deciding which type of cargo bike is best for your family, and then move onto our guide to the best cargo bikes for families.

Two small children on a long-tail cargo bike by the coast

Pulling and towing toddlers by bike

When they get older there will be a lot of options to pull them along behind your bike, but at this age if you’d rather tow them than carry them, there’s only one viable option, which we explore below.

a man riding a road bike with panniers and a trailer at the seaside


Pulling a trailer can be great if you’re transporting up to two children at the same time, and they’re safe to use for babies aged one and over. The one notable exception is the Hamax Outback trailer, which is safe for babies as young as 6 months old.

A trailer can also double up as extra storage, making them especially handy if you also plan to do the food shop by bike, or have an older sibling to take to school. There are even trailers that convert into strollers and joggers for when you’re not pedalling.

We recommend you start by choosing one of the best kids’ bike trailers, and after that consult our guide to how to hitch a bike trailer, to make sure you’ve got a compatible setup. 

Guide to bike helmets for babies and toddlers

Whether you want your child to wear a helmet is a personal choice, and not all children will cooperate anyway, especially younger ones. So even with the best of intentions you may find yourself wondering the best way to go forward. As a starting point the first question to answer is, should my child wear a bike helmet?

If you’re going with ‘yes’, then here’s some of the practical advice we’ve written over the years about protecting your child’s head while cycling. First off, make sure you know how to measure your child’s head for a bike helmet so that you get the right size. 

After that you’ll want to check, is your child’s bike helmet fitted correctly?, because a poor fit can do more damage than good if the worst were to happen.

If safety is your biggest concern, then you might also appreciate a guide to safety standards to look out for when buying a kids bike helmet.

Little girl in a rear bike seat
A child's helmet with cartoon sloths printed on it, modelled by a toddler, as seen from behind

Kids’ bike helmets we recommend

We like to get hands on as many helmets as possible so we can confidently recommend the best to parents. Over the years we’ve done just that, so these are the best bike helmets for babies and toddlers that we think are worth investing in. 

If you’re looking for more in-depth information on individual models, then you might also find them amongst our kids’ bike helmet reviews.

Useful accessories

There aren’t a huge amount of accessories for this age group, because it’s not like you’re planning to kit them out in lycra! However, one thing that’s useful to be aware of is the best kids’ cycling gloves.

It may not seem obvious, but you can get gloves for children as young as 2, and the main thing they’re good for is protecting the delicate skin on their palms in the event of a fall.

If you're cycling all year round with your little one, then there are several accessories that help with keeping warm on a bike seat, cargo bike or in a trailer. We've also got a whole guide to winter cycling with kids.

The front end of a long-tail cargo bike, locked to a sheffield stand

Bike locks

If you’re leaving everyone’s bikes unattended for a while, or you ride a cargo bike, then another very useful accessory is a good quality lock. Unfortunately no matter which part of the UK you’re in, you’re likely to find that bike theft is a problem (this is especially true in cities), so it’s best to keep your bikes safe!

We’ve listed the best kids bike locks that should work well for your child’s bike, especially if you’re leaving it unattended at the park, for example. These can also work well for your own bike. 

If you have a cargo bike that you leave unattended while running errands, then we’d recommend something more robust, which you’ll find in this guide to the best cargo bike locks

Furthermore, we’ve written a comprehensive guide to cargo bike insurance, which we’d recommend reading if you live in a particularly high-risk area.

Where you can hire before you buy

Whether you’re considering a trailer or a cargo bike, making a big purchase can be daunting when you have no experience of the item in question. What if you don’t like it? What if your little one point blank refuses to use it?

Thankfully there are lots of companies out there who can hire out equipment, so you can try before you buy. If you think this would be useful for you and your family, then check out our guide to where to try family cycling equipment, which is broken down by region. It should be easy enough for you to find out if there’s something nearby that you can make use of.

Ride-ons and balance bikes

At this age group they’re probably raring to get up and move around, so if you’re thinking of buying your toddler their first ever bike, we’ve got some useful guides to get them started at a young age.

But before we dive into that, the very first question is, is your child ready to learn to ride a bike? Take our quiz to find out, because starting them before they’re ready runs the risk of putting them off!

Once you’re sure that they’ve developed the motor skills needed to balance and scoot around, the next step is deciding whether or not they’re ready for a balance bike, or would benefit from a pre-balance bike, also known as a ride-on. To help you figure this out, we’ve got a handy guide to how to choose the right size bike for your child’s age.

Two small toddlers riding toddlebikes outside together

Ride-ons and pre-balance bikes

Usually from around the age of one, they’ll likely be able to toddle about on a ride-on, or toddlebike. These usually have three or four very small wheels, so they’re not technically bikes, and they’re a great option to get them ready for their first two-wheeled balance bike. Check out our guide to the best bikes for a 1 year-old to explore these.

Balance bikes

Once they’re ready to progress to two wheels, have a look through what we think are the best balance bikes. These are small two-wheeled bikes without pedals that they scoot around on with their feet. They’re a much better option than stabilisers, as they teach children to steer with their bodies and balance while in motion. 

For more on this, have a read of does my child need stabilisers? and if you’re not entirely sure what you’re looking at, don’t worry. We’ve got a handy guide that answers the question, what is a balance bike?

A toddler seen from behind riding a balance bike on a pump track

Kids’ bike search

The absolute easiest way to find the best option for your little one is to use our kids’ bike search. Simply use the filters (including your child’s favourite colour) to narrow down your options, and our database will do the rest!

Balance bike reviews

After 12 years of writing about family cycling and children’s bikes, it’s no wonder we’ve amassed so much hands-on experience with the different options out there. If you think you’ve found your favourite option but want to read about it in a bit more detail, check out our balance bike reviews, as we might have tested the one you’re looking at.

A side view of the Shotgun Dirt Hero balance bike photographed in the woods

Where to ride together

When it comes to cycling with babies and toddlers, it’s one thing to take them to the park or have them whizzing around the garden, and quite another to go on a family day out or holiday with the bikes. We’ve been doing a lot of work to build up a bank of family-friendly cycling routes around the UK, which you can find on our Komoot collection.


With children, especially the very young ones, it’s very rare that things go smoothly! So don’t despair if there are some teething problems, here’s the help you might need. 

Check out our article, help! Why doesn’t my child want to ride their bike?

If you have any troubleshooting questions for us to answer, please leave a comment so we can feature them here for everyone, to keep this section as helpful as possible.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.