Parenthood doesn't have to mean the end of cycling. Once your youngster is old enough you can take him or her along with you on a child seat on your bike or a trailer behind. Here's what to look for.
You can carry junior in a child seat as soon as they can support their own head, usually from about six to nine months
Trailers can carry children from even earlier as they can just lie down and doze off
Front-mounted child seats are less common in the UK, but their fans love being able to easily communicate with their kids
The biggest child seats — like the Bobike Classic — can carry kids up to 35kg, or around ten years old
To take a young child along on your bike you have three main options: a seat behind your saddle; a seat on the top tube; or a trailer.
The classic behind-the-saddle child seat either sits on a rack or has its own mounting system to attach it to the bike. It will usually cradle your kid, with a high back and sides so they can fall asleep without falling out, leg guards and a harness. It should be designed so that your sprog shouldn't be able to get their feet or fingers into the spokes.
Once a child gets a bit bigger and heavier, they can make a bike with a rear-mounted child seat a bit top-heavy, and affect the handling.
Your child needs to be able to hold their head up on their own to be comfortable in a child seat. That's usually from six to nine months old, but check out what each seat says about the minimum age it supports and follow that guidance.
The front-mounted seat, that sits on the top tube so the child is between your arms, is the least common option in the UK, but more often seen in Europe. It has the advantage that your child is very close to you, so communication is easy, and kids enjoy being able to see where they're going.
A trailer can accommodate very young children, as they can just lie down and doze off. Your child sits in their own little carriage behind the bike, which is very comfortable, but you may worry that you're a bit out of touch with the child.
Junior probably won't be very bothered as they're enclosed in a spacious bubble and protected from the elements. If you need to transport a child by bike all year round, this is the way to go.
Trailers are the most expensive option, but they hold decent resale values if looked after and you can use them for much more than just carrying children; a trailer is perhaps the best way of carrying shopping too.
This well-reviewed child seat has its own mount that clamps the seat tube, so you don't need anything else, and is considered a bit of a bargain.
Amazon reviewer C. Isherwood said: "My son was very comfortable and very safe and we have had so much fun with this now that the weather is getting better. I can't praise this enough. Don't pay a fortune for a child bike seat. This is brilliant and does everything you need."
Suitable for children older than 9 months and up to 22kg, this seat can be tilted back 20° so that Junior can have a nap, hence the name Siesta.
It has a tall back and high sides with double buckle system means you can strap your child in quickly and securely.
The latest front-mounted childseat from WeeRide follows on from the company's Kangaroo, which is very highly regarded on Mumsnet. It has its own mounting bar that fits between the seatpost and handlebar stem, so once it's set up the seat itself can be removed quickly.
For year-round kid-carrying, WeeRide also make a windscreen to keep the weather off your young 'un. It might make your bike look like a moped, but a happy passenger is worth looking a bit daft.
The deluxe model in Hamax's extensive range, the Caress also has a sleeping position, plus redesigned footrest and harness systems and rear reflectives for visibility. There's also a £129.99 version that mounts on your existing luggage rack.
With room for two kids, this classic trailer has additional storage space for all their bits and pieces and is reported to be very stable and easy to tow.
Wiggle reviewer NewDadExperiencedRider says: "The Bee is very stable and it gives the impression that the cargo (my daughter) is very secure. It tows easily and is very light, the weight is comparable to a light road bike. It is a well engineered piece of kit and attaching both the trailer and connecting bracket to the bike is less than a 5 minute job. Once the bracket is on your bike you simply clip in and out in seconds."
Babies don't come cheap, and forking out £600 on a bike trailer may not be your number one priority, but the Thule Chariot Lite looks like a wise investment. Suitable for children up to about 30kg (roughly 6 months to around 5 years), and even younger with the Infant Sling (around £70) designed for babies 1 to 10 months, this trailer is robust and nimble enough for both town and track, making it ideal for keeping the family mobile when there is a little one in tow.
Thanks to our readers in the comments for these tip-offs.
DaveE128 says: "I would recommend (from experience) both the Topeak Babysitter II and the Copilot Limo. [The Limo seems to be no longer available in the UK - Ed]
"Both mount onto a rack. My preference between the two is the Topeak. This can be easily fitted to bikes with disk brakes, and although it doesn't have an adjustable recline feature, this isn't great on the Copilot anyway.
"I would warn that when towards the upper end of the weight range though, that with a lighter weight frame (eg my CX/adventure cross/coummuter Pinnacle Arkose Two) you don't want to stand up, as it makes the frame flex scarily. It's much better on a mountain bike.
"For either seat, you can keep the rack on the bike and use it for commuting with panniers, or in the case of the Topeak, a rack top back and a rack-mounted rear light/reflector."
KiwiMike says: "I'm amazed that the Yepp Mini isn't there. It fits onto both quill and Aheadset-style bikes, fits with one hand - we sometimes took it on/off with a sleeping child still strapped in. It also locks, has the sleep mat, windscreen, your knees are safe and it weighs bugger all. When it's removed the bike is almost totally normal, unlike the WeeRide that still has a stupid heavy steel girder in place.
"Seriously guys, put the Yepp Mini in there. You're doing parents a disservice by omitting it."
Username says: "We upgraded to this when our girl exceeded the weight for her Hamax.
"I must say I had my doubts because it was already a handful riding with her bouncing around in Hamax, upsetting the bike's balance, which meant one had to be a very confident cyclist to cope with it but the Bobike Junior is a revelation because it doesn't bounce.
"It is fixed firmly and despite the fact she is now a few years older, taller, heavier, than before the Bobike makes it easy to cope with her on the back.
"It's rated to 35 kgs, or roughly aged 10, and I can see us still using it for quite a while.
This is the Rolls Royce of Thule's Chariot range of child carriers. With a lightweight aluminium alloy frame, it'll take up to 34kg of kid and kit.
At heart, the Cross 1 is a stroller on steroids, and comes with the bike attachment it's shown with above. It can be converted into a three-wheeled jogging stroller, a round-town four-wheeler and even a ski trailer.
There's also a two-child version, the Cross 2 for £1,099.99, and there's a vast range of accessories.
Reader wstephenson describes this as "the only trailer that doesn't feel like you're hauling a wheelbarrow full of bricks using a bungee cord as soon as you put the power on, and it's great with a road bike or MTB. Has lots of happy daddy daughter miles with ours."
With a chromoly steel frame and just one wheel, it's light at a claimed 9.5kg and a built-in air shock helps keep Junior comfortable if you want to take it off road.
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Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
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