Convertible seat for a Prius and a bike trailer - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 23 Old 08-28-2012, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We're long-time bicycle commuters expecting our first baby in November, so we've been researching car seats, and I admit to being more confused than enlightened, so I'm delighted this forum is here!

 

Our preference would be for a convertible seat, as long as it's newborn-safe, rather than an infant seat and then a toddler seat. We have a compact car (a Prius); my husband is 6 feet and I'm 5'2". I can't think of any special features we'd like, other than a seat with one of the higher weight and height limits and the ability to fit it in our small car.   

 

I also recently learned that you can put a car seat into a bike trailer. Any recommendations? It's my understanding that children under one year shouldn't ride because they don't have the neck strength to wear a helmet and the road vibration can be injurious to them. Does a car seat change this? We were planning on having one person take the car with the baby and the other ride a bike and then switch on the way back home so that we don't have to wait a year to get back in riding shape, but it would be great if we could safely start the little guy or gal sooner. 

 

Thanks so much!


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#2 of 23 Old 08-28-2012, 12:49 PM
 
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Re: biking:  you are correct, it is not recommend to transport an under-1 year old on a bicycle, and using a car seat doesn't change that.   Aggravating, I know, but it's safest for all concerned to wait for the first birthday :-)

 

Re: car seats.  Starting with a convertible is just fine, but one thing to keep in mind is that newborns need a full 45 degree recline, and that can be difficult to achieve in smaller cars without impeding on front passenger room.  

 

That being said, convertibles that fit newborns well, will keep children rear facing for 3-4 years (which is how old they should be before moving to forward facing) and then keep them harnessed until they are mature enough for a booster include the Graco My Ride 65 or 70, the Evenflo Triumph 65, the Graco Size4Me, the Diono Radian R120 and RXT and the Maxi Cosi Pria 70.  

You might want to pay particular attention to the Pria 70; it has an infant insert that artificially creates the recline within the seat shell while still allowing the seat itself to be installed upright and not encroach on the front seats. 


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#3 of 23 Old 08-29-2012, 07:53 AM
 
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For what it is worth, we did put our young baby in a bucket car seat in a bike trailer.  The bucket seat was installed rear facing in the bike trailer at a 45 degree recline and was strapped down firmly with the bike trailer harness system.

 

We felt very safe with this setup because we were biking on a flat, paved nature trail in our neighborhood with no cars around.  Though, if a bike trailer did get hit by a car, I bet a 6 month old in a car seat would fair as well or better than a 12 month old not in a car seat.

 

I actually felt less safe when baby turned a year old and was suddenly in the bike trailer without the added support of the car seat.  With a heavy helmet on his head, and a three point harness that did not snug very tight on such a small person, he ended up being jarred and thrown around (when we went around corners) more than I was comfortable with.  Plus he hated it and screamed the whole time.  At that point I moved him to our front mount bike seat so the molded plastic of the seat gave him more support and I could keep a closer eye on him.  He liked that much better, his older brother moved to the trailer and he liked that and we were once again happily riding.

 

This worked for us, but, of course, YMMV.

Wendy
 

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#4 of 23 Old 08-29-2012, 09:19 AM
 
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We have a Prius and all the car seats we've had (many, because we've been rear-ended twice and they've been replaced and we've sometimes switched models) have fit fine. From a size perspective, Prius has a lot bigger back seat than other similar cars. In fact, it is our "big family car." In a pinch, we've been able to get the dino installed rear-facing in our beetle as well.

 

My choice would be the Dino/Radian. It fits fine in any position in the car and gives the longest rear-facing option. I like it much, much more than the Graco MyRide which is far less comfortable to rear-face in.

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#5 of 23 Old 08-29-2012, 09:53 AM
 
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About carseats: they say that the safest carseat is the one you will use correctly every time. It's not so much about the seat as it is about proper use.

 

I have a Radian for my toddler. I think it's great! He is very tall and the other seats would not allow him to remain rear-facing. He is comfortable in it and happily rides rear-facing.

 

Prior to that carseat, we used another convertible. But before age 2, he became too tall for that one to remain rear-facing. We still use it as the back-up seat in our other car, but pretty soon (before age 3) he will outgrow it. The label says it can be used as a booster seat but we will never be able to do that because our son is so tall. He's in the 95% by the way, so if there's a chance your kiddo is that tall or taller then don't waste any money on a convertible that isn't made for tall kids. Just get a bucket seat now and switch later or get a special convertible for tall kids.

 

I put the twins in bucket seats because they're easier to fit into the car and other reasons. I generally think convertibles are safer (because there are fewer points of failure) however, bucket seats make more sense in some situations. For example, in the summer it gets so hot here that it's nice to take the carseat out of the car and into a cooler environment so the babies don't have to go back into a hot carseat. Also, with twins I decided it would be easiest to wear one and carry the other in a bucket seat, most of the time. And bucket seats are easier to get the right recline for newborns.

 

About bike trailers and carseats: I wouldn't do it.

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#6 of 23 Old 08-30-2012, 07:02 AM
 
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We like the radians for our prius (though we didn't move into them until the twins were nine months old). The narrowness helps. But for any seat I would suggest that you go find a store that carries them and do a test install.

 

Some people carry infants in car seats in either box bikes or built-on boxes.

 

http://www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl/2011/04/11/bakfiets-touring-with-baby-and-toddler/

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#7 of 23 Old 09-02-2012, 01:19 AM
 
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Re: biking:  you are correct, it is not recommend to transport an under-1 year old on a bicycle, and using a car seat doesn't change that.   Aggravating, I know, but it's safest for all concerned to wait for the first birthday :-)

 


The reason it's not recommended is because of the low neck control.  By using a car seat, the baby would have proper neck support, making travelling by bike, rather than auto, safer for all concerned. 

 

OP - people in the netherlands transport their babies by bike everyday - http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/baby-names-stay-short-and-dutch-2009 

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wittcogmbh/3372182386/

 

http://storkbitesman.blogspot.com/2007_08_01_archive.html

 

Good luck, OP!  Have fun cycling with your babe :) 

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#8 of 23 Old 09-02-2012, 01:22 AM
 
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Here is a reasonable father (who also happens to be a pediatrician)  in the US who posts about biking with baby -

 

http://totcycle.com/blog/baby-on-a-bicycle.html  in a plain old trailer (less expensive than a bakfiet :)

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#9 of 23 Old 09-02-2012, 10:26 AM
 
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The reason it's not recommended is because of the low neck control.  By using a car seat, the baby would have proper neck support, making travelling by bike, rather than auto, safer for all concerned. 

 

OP - people in the netherlands transport their babies by bike everyday - http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/baby-names-stay-short-and-dutch-2009 

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wittcogmbh/3372182386/

 

http://storkbitesman.blogspot.com/2007_08_01_archive.html

 

Good luck, OP!  Have fun cycling with your babe :) 

 

The reason it's not recommended is because the lack of neck control means that wearing a helmet can injure their little necks. I personally do not consider bicycling without a helmet to be an option. Period. A car seat is not designed or tested to protect a child in a bike trailer. The car provides some of the protection in the event of an accident. The car seat provides the rest, and helps keep the child within the confines of the relatively protected space inside the car. In a bike trailer, there is NO outside protection. Of course it's up to you to decide whether you're comfortable having your baby on a bike without a helmet. I'm sure the baby will be fine if you don't have any accidents. But accidents happen and people die riding bikes all the time. Helmets are one of the best ways we know of to mitigate that risk. There is no evidence that a car seat is an appropriate substitute for a helmet. 

 

It is also likely illegal to transport your child on a bicycle without a helmet. Check your local and state laws to be sure.

 

You'll notice that the babies in the pictures you posted are not wearing helmets. 


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#10 of 23 Old 09-02-2012, 10:33 AM
 
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Here is a reasonable father (who also happens to be a pediatrician)  in the US who posts about biking with baby -

 

http://totcycle.com/blog/baby-on-a-bicycle.html  in a plain old trailer (less expensive than a bakfiet :)

 

Oh, and whoever wrote that article, if he's a pediatrician or not, is an idiot. He even suggests a toddler-walking helmet which is NOT a bicycle helmet to "comply with local laws" because, duh, baby can't wear a bicycle helmet. A better description would be "to convince an ignorant officer you're complying with the law by pretending to put a bicycle helmet on your child and hoping the officer doesn't notice the difference and give you a ticket." 

 

Pediatricians give out bad advice all the time regarding food (start with rice cereal!), vaccinations (all babies need the Hep B vax at birth!) and car seats (Oh, your 4 month old is 20 lbs, better turn him forward facing now!). 


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#11 of 23 Old 09-02-2012, 09:31 PM
 
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admin note: text removed as it is quoting a removed post

 

 

rEally?   Do I know you?  People have been cycling with their babies in the NEtherlands for a looong time.  Are they just trying to cause dissent.  I am trying to show that it's a viable option.  Somepeople are able to make different decisions than you  that are still valid.  Even in a carseat, automobile travel is VERY dangerous.    Nothing I posted is counter-intuitive or dangerous.  Maedze - I see you are a carseat expert.  Pretty sure a thoughtful pediatrician has more to offer in regards to a child's physical development and what is safe for their bodies.

 

OP - don't let anyone here convince you that car travel is safer than bike travel, ever.

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#12 of 23 Old 09-03-2012, 01:10 AM
 
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Brigala, this particular poster delights in offering counter intuitive advice and encouraging other posters to do dangerous things with their children.  I wouldn't worry too much about responding to her, she's only here to cause dissent.  

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#13 of 23 Old 09-03-2012, 08:03 AM
 
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Thank you for illustrating my point, dearie. 

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#14 of 23 Old 09-03-2012, 08:35 AM
 
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Ah. I see. :)

 

I am actually OK with other families making different risk/benefit assessments than I do. But your assessment that the reason it's not recommended to take babies on bicycles is because of the bouncing around needed to be corrected for other people reading this board. That's not the reason at all. 

 

It's very logical. In the US, it's common practice or even the law in many places for children to wear helmets on bicycles. Helmets cause injuries to infants because they are too heavy for their immature necks. So the logical formula is:

 

If:

- No helmet, no bicycle

and

- Do not put a helmet on an infant

Then:

Do not take infant on a bicycle

 

If you disagree with one of the above premises, that's totally up to you. And "This is what they do in the Netherlands" is not a logical argument proving something is safe. People in other countries do all sorts of things as common practice which the average parent in the US wouldn't dream of doing. In order to convince me I'd need to see (A) statistics showing that infant injury on bicycles is rare in the Netherlands and (B) data to show that statistics from the Netherlands can be correlated with US practices (i.e. - show me that bicycling is not inherently safer in the Netherlands due to, for example, better traffic engineering or driver awareness). 

 

Maedze: I'm really not trying to troll feed I just want to make my position clear for anybody else who might be reading this thread. :)


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#15 of 23 Old 09-03-2012, 01:06 PM
 
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OP, 

 

I'm not quite sure what the law is in your city but I did start bike riding with DC when she was younger than a year. I think shew as probably about 7 months when we did a short bit and then around 9 months when we did a bit more. We use a seat that's mounted to the back of the bike seat. The trick is to find a helmet for such a little head -- but they are out there. 

 

Maybe you can talk to your city's bike organizations and find out what the laws and the norms are where you live. Also, maybe you can find some grey area - perhaps riding in the park or trails as opposed to the road for a while? 


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#16 of 23 Old 09-03-2012, 01:40 PM
 
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The trick is to find a helmet for such a little head -- but they are out there. 

 

No, the trick is figuring out how to give your 7 month old the neck muscles of a toddler. Small helmets exist, but they should only be used on children over a year who have small heads (I have such a child, and yes, I have taken her on my bike. But she is two.) I'm sure you were unaware of this, but if you had read this thread you wouldn't be recommending someone else make the same mistake. Instead you'd be taking your child to a pediatric chiropractor to make sure you didn't damage her little neck. 


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#17 of 23 Old 09-03-2012, 01:55 PM
 
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No, the trick is figuring out how to give your 7 month old the neck muscles of a toddler. Small helmets exist, but they should only be used on children over a year who have small heads (I have such a child, and yes, I have taken her on my bike. But she is two.) I'm sure you were unaware of this, but if you had read this thread you wouldn't be recommending someone else make the same mistake. Instead you'd be taking your child to a pediatric chiropractor to make sure you didn't damage her little neck. 

I did read the thread - and to be sure, I was not advising the OP. I was sharing what we did. I read up on the issue when my DC was 7 months and opted for a short ride and then again at 9 months for another relatively short ride over the course of a weekend. 

 

What I think is that this issue isn't well researched or well written about. Of course we can agree that there isn't anything that happens between 11, 30 days and 12 months old that makes riding go from completely unsafe to relatively safe. What I think is that there is some room for parents using some critical thinking on this issue, which may end up in parents deciding that perhaps 12 months is too soon or that 9 months on short rides is ok. 

 

OP, here is an interesting article and article. And a blog that talks about the solution you were considering, OP. Interestingly, if you are an avid rider, it may make the case for you that postponing long rides is something you may want to consider - for even longer than 12 months. OTOH, it may be that as an avid bike rider, you have a bike that itself is safer for your child (shocks and etc.) because it seems as though perhaps the bouncing issue is one to consider.  

 

I encourage you to research this issue and look at some of the studies for yourself! I'll post if I find any good studies or articles because it certainly is an interesting subject. 

 

ETA: 

 

OP, here is a link for bike laws from state to state - though I'm not so sure how up do date it is. 


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#18 of 23 Old 09-03-2012, 02:34 PM
 
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Also, OP...depending on the laws in your state, this may be a good question for your child's pediatrician. Some of the concerns are to do with the physical development of the child.  You may get the go ahead for short rides before 12 months and, depending on your child's individual development, maybe you will be advised to wait even longer than 12 months, especially for super long rides. Also, your pediatrician may have some good articles or resources for you. 

 

Whatever you decide, know that those first 12 months FLY, whether you are on a bike or not. love.gif Congrats on your pregnancy! 


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#19 of 23 Old 09-04-2012, 12:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you, everyone, for your responses! I appreciate all of the information and personal experiences.

 

As cycle commuters in a rural area, we share the road with motor vehicles, including log trucks and bus-sized recreational vehicles. For the most part, the shoulders are of a decent width, so we're not in the same lane as motorized traffic. Our time in town is short, with a couple of stop signs, so city traffic isn't a concern. However, the rural route does have a 55-mph speed limit, so those vehicles are going fast. The shoulder can be rough and bumpy too, with gravel from people's driveways and the logging roads being swept into the road surface. Because of the nature of our commute, we both feel most comfortable sticking with our original plan for having us each alternate riding and driving and getting the little one onto the bike when he/she is developmentally ready to ride with a helmet, and we'll try a recreational trail first to troubleshoot without the high-speed traffic. 

 

It's inspiring how people in countries such as the Netherlands have a much more bike-friendly culture: a more advantageous ratio of riders to drivers, more aware drivers, and infrastructure that's supportive of family cycling, such as bike/walking paths that take riders away from motorized traffic. I can understand how this would produce a greater comfort level with taking young children along for the ride. However, I'm also alert to the realities of my area: my husband and I are two of a handful of cyclists regularly on the roads, and so there just isn't the level of awareness and respect that we'd like to receive. We ride safely and alertly, following traffic laws, and there are still people who vocally express their resentment of our presence on "their" road. As adults, we can accept this as part of our experience and respond accordingly; however, there's a whole new level of safety necessary for a child. 

 

Thanks again, everyone, for an informative discussion!

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#20 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 04:30 AM
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Maedza and swede - your behavior in this thread is not acceptable. If you post in this manner again you will lose your posting privileges. Please edit your posts to remove personal accusations and insults. 

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#21 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 05:18 AM
 
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Re head strength. I think this will vary a lot form child to child.This can be increased immensely by swimming from an early age. Just a thought. Also baby wearing/carrying, homebirths /natural births and waterbirths and letting baby root around for the breast.My daughter for example has never been in a stroller and has swam since she was  5 months old so her neck strength is way stronger than average.Not to say it is or isn't strong enough for a helmet at one (she is 2 now so it's long past) but something to consider;-)

 

She now has the sit on the handle bars seat and loves it. Also just started her on her own balance bike.

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#22 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 09:39 PM
 
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This is an interesting thread. We recently moved to Portland and many people travel ONLY by bike. My son is nearly 2 now and we JUST started traveling by bike with him. We got a trailer, but this whole discussion is very interesting to me. I like the idea of a car seat on a trailer, just for the better support, those trailers are pretty flimsy. I doubt the car seat would help much in a bad crash, but would help a lot with support in general. If I had another baby I would probably switch to the bus for at least 6 month (and probably for the last few before the baby came!) and base it on my own child's neck strength. 

 

Also as far as a convert able for a prius I would suggest a True Fit, as the top comes off till the baby hits 22lbs so you can get the full 45 (it self tilts on the True Fit Premiere) till 22lbs the put the top on and change it to more upright. We have one, but will be getting a radian soon since it RFs 10lbs longer and my son is short so shell lenght isn't an issue (the true fit is actually longer than the radian). 


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#23 of 23 Old 09-13-2012, 11:34 AM
 
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I saw this MDC article and thought of this thread. They discuss some safety issues and recommend several blogs including Totcycle (subject of some controversy in this thread but a good blog, nonetheless). Tiny Helmets and Big Bikes talks about biking with young children.

 

I'll add my 2 cents on the type of child carrier -- I much preferred the type of seat that mounts to the back of the adult rider's seat. I, personally, found the trailer to be cumbersome and they always seemed like "a whole lot of bike" to keep track of, especially with the LOs in the way back. But I was a city rider when we did most of our bike riding with kids. I don't like the front mount seats because of steering and balance. But that's just me.  

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