The wind billows in your hair, lush green fields zoom past you on either side and the worries of the week fall away as you pedal. Why wouldn’t you want to share that with your child?
Cycling in Singapore’s many parks – which is much safer that city biking – can be a great way to bond with your little ones, and enjoy time as a family.
Point out the trees, the flowers, birds, animals and waterways you see along the way, to keep your tot engaged throughout the ride.
Here are the important things you need to prepare to have a fantastic Little Day Out with your tyke on your bike!
Cycling with Baby 101
Child Seats for Bikes
The first thing you need to think about is investing in a decent child seat. There are many kinds in the market, and the number of choices can be rather baffling.
Let’s look at the types of child seats you can consider and here’s a picture of the anatomy of a bike first so we’re all navigating on the same page:
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Photo Credit: The Bicycle Mechanic
1. Rear Seats
Rear seats are commonly used in Singapore. Rack-mounted seats are one such option. Some brands feature quick-release seats, which make it easier to store after the ride.
Bracket-mounted seats, which are a common choice of rear seats, are attached to the down tube of the bike. This means that they are able to be fitted to a wider range of bikes. The downside is that they take more effort and time to remove, which makes them less versatile than rack-mounted seats.
2. Front Seats
Front-mounted seats – where your child is positioned in front of you – can mounted on the steering tube or seat post and come with quick-release options.
With these seats, your child can have an unblocked view during the ride, as opposed to a view of your sweating back, but this also means that he is exposed to the elements eg. wind and rain.
Some brands offer a visor screen that can be attached to your handlebar to protect your little one.
The more premium models of child seats even have a reclining feature for younger babies or a sleeping child. Yes, you can take your baby out for a ride as young as 6 months!
3. Seats on Foldies
For people who love foldies or folding bikes, yes, you can mount child seats on them too. However, some bike shops do not recommend mounting a child seat on foldies, mainly because it is mounted on the seat post, which could slide downwards under the weight of both the adult rider and the occupied child seat.
But some other bike shops do sell and install child seats for foldies – just do so with the safety considerations and the weight limit in mind.
If it’s a rear-mounted seat, take note that your child’s legs do not hit the back wheel or get into the way of your heels when you pedal. The wheels of foldies are smaller than road bikes or mountain bikes, so the possibility of that happening is high.
Prices for Various Child Seats
Some popular and well-established rear or front-mounting brands which can be found in Singapore are Yepp, CoPilot, and BoBike. These are more expensive options about $200 and beyond.
You could also buy cheaper, no-frills alternatives from local biking shops which cost from $30 to $110.
The priciest option – but also a pretty snazzy choice for a child seat – is a tow trailer, which you attach to the back of your bike. It rolls along behind you in tow on its own wheels, like a jazzed-up cool stroller for bikes. Some tow trailers can even fit two children, and have a roof and doors to keep the littlies safe from the elements.
Safety Considerations for Child Seats
Safety comes first so do look out for:
- High back and high side protection, which would protect your child from impact and give him some place to rest his head
- Contoured indent in the headrest area to make space for your child’s helmet
- Handlebar for him to hold on to
- Five-point harness/seatbelt is of course safer than three-point
- Check your seat post, seat stays, bracket, steering tube, or rear rack (whatever your choice of mounting is) for the weight limit
- Always check the upper weight limit of your child seat to see if it’s suitable for your child
- Foot straps to keep flailing little legs in the safety of the foot rest
Other Safety Gear
A safety helmet could save your child’s head from impact, should there be a fall or collision. Buy a decent one that fits well. It might be hard to find a helmet small enough for babies as young as 6 months old, but there are online and brick-and-mortar shops in Singapore which sell these specialty helmets.
Some considerations for good helmets:
- Well-established impact-tested brands
- Good, firm fit, which means helmet should not move around when you try to shift it
- Adjustable dial at the back of the helmet for better custom fit, and lasts longer as your child grows
- Comfortable padding inside the helmet
- More air vents on helmet shell for air ventilation
- Easy lock on chin strap, because you don’t want to be struggling with a cranky child.
Brands like Polisport, Giro, and Melon make helmets for kids as young as under a year old, as well as for older children.
Other safety gear like a bell could warn passers-by that you’re coming up behind them, as well as keep your little tyke entertained.
Outfit your bike with an appropriate headlight and tail-light, should you want to cycle in the evenings or even at night. It’s a good thing to be visible to other pedestrians or cyclists.
Plan Your Route
With over 300 parks in Singapore and an extensive Park Connector Network (PCN), there should be a park near you.
Plan your route ahead of time to make sure there are rain shelters nearby should the weather turn nasty.
Find out what the highlights are along your route, so your family can have a fun time seeing various things like rivers, different plants, animals such as monkeys and squirrels, bridges, up-and-down cycling slopes. Playing is a great way to learn!
You might also like to have the option of stopping for a bite or a drink at a cafe along your route – an itinerary that’s bound to please the foodies.
So, plan your starting point, mid-point and end-point according to the interests of your family.
You can download the sParks app by NParks, which lists the parks near your location, as well as directions to the park. Available for both iPhone and Android.
Essential Diaper Bag for Young Babies
- 2 or 3 diapers
- Wet wipes
- Pack of tissue paper
- Drinking water in cup or bottle
Dad and Mum’s Bag
- Mobile phone
- Water bottles (can be attached to bike in water bottle holder)
- Small first aid kit
- Car keys/home keys
- Small emergency bike kit eg for flat tyres etc
Attach a small bag to your handlebar, top tube, downtube or seatpost under your seat.
There are bigger bag options like pannier bags which you can attach to the top or sides of your rear rack. Some even touring pannier bags even have an insulated cooler feature to keep food and drinks cold. Or you can even pack along a nice picnic lunch or tea for a mid-point stop.
If you wish to use your phone as a GPS system, just mount it to your handlebar using a mounting frame.
Things to Watch Out For as You’re Cycling with Baby
Be prepared for surprises.
Your tot could fall asleep during the ride and konk his head on your handlebar – or have no place to rest his head and get really cranky. Believe us, the pleasant vibrations of a moving vehicle and the gentle breeze can put most kids to sleep!
Some child seat brands also sell fancy foam roll padding as an add-on for your child seat’s handlebar, so your tyke can rest his face on it while he sleeps. Or lifehack your own padded covering for your child’s child seat handlebar!
Get a visor for your kid’s helmet
Here’s a tip for front-mounted child seats: Get a bike helmet with a visor, so that if your child’s head falls forwards, the visor will buffer his face from your handlebar.
Keep your ride short
For younger babies, try to keep your ride short, say, 30 to 40 minutes, especially if this is your first ride. They can get tired and cranky if the ride is too long; it’s not easy for them to sleep on a moving bicycle. Remember, as you plan your route, that it takes time to go to your destination and return to the starting point. As you get used to riding, you can slowly increase the length of time.
Have a wet weather plan
It might start raining on your parade. This is Singapore after all. Be prepared for wet weather: Having rain ponchos and knowing where the nearest rain shelter will be helpful.
On the other hand, if the sun is blazing, slather on sunblock for your kids and yourself. You don’t want them exposed to harmful UV rays – dangerous for babies – or cop a sunburn after a fun ride, which could end your otherwise fantastic little day out on a sour note.
Know your first aid options
In the event an accident happens – a fall or a collision – know what to do in terms of first aid or who to call.
Have a great time!
Be prepared, but don’t worry too much. After all, you’re about to have an exhilarating little day out with the wind in your hair!