Biking with Babies, Toddlers and Young Kids

Parent cycling with child on the Leslie Street Spit.

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Written by Amy Elvidge, Program Manager

Looking to start cycling with your little one? Parents are showing more interest in cycling with their kids at an early age and bike carrier companies have responded with many options to choose from. Carriers are great for kids who aren’t old enough to bike on their own (12 months to 3 years) or for kids who are still learning to bike longer distances (3+ years).  

We spoke with Ontario parents about when and why they bike with their kids and the carriers they use. While this list is not exhaustive, it’s a good starting point to learn about the carrier options available and the highlights of each.


Know Before You Go 

Important steps before starting to cycle with young kids: 

  1. Adults and kids should always wear helmets for all distances. Make sure helmets fit properly. By law, kids under 18 must wear helmets.   
  2. Check your bike’s manual to see if it accepts a bike seat and what its maximum load capacity is. This information may also be available on the bike manufacturer’s website or by reaching out to their customer service support. 
  3. Do an ABC check before you head out. Make sure the tires have air; the brakes, bells and bars work; and the chain and crank are running smoothly. 


Bike Seats 

Good for kids age 1 – 4 years or up to 50 pounds. 

Matt biking with his son in the Toronto ravine.

Matt, Toronto 

What kind of carrier do you use? 

We have a top tube seat called Kids Ride Shotgun. The set-up is a bike seat and foot stirrups that are mounted on my frame between my seat and the handlebars. Having my son in front is a lot easier to balance on variable terrains and carry his weight up climbs. It’s primarily mounted on my hardtail or full suspension mountain bikes, but we’ve successfully tried it on road and commuter bikes while on vacation. It’s foldable and small enough to bring on trips so that we can get around on bikes wherever we go.  

At what age did you start cycling with your child? 

My son started using the seat around age 2. Kids must be able to hold on to the handlebars  with their feet in the foot straps and stay focused on the ride since there’s nothing holding them in the seat. It’s a much more full on and engaging experience for them. 

What’s the primary reason for biking with your child? 

The top tube seat is great for an entertaining activity in nature. It’s also a convenient way to get around the city since we don’t have to deal with traffic or parking. The Toronto ravines are our main destination. 

What’s your favourite part about biking with your child? 

Spending active quiet time together.   


Bike Trailers 

Good for kids age 1 – 6 or up to 75 pounds. 

Evan's wife Alyssa with their son in the bike trailer.

Evan, Toronto 

What kind of carrier do you use? 

We have a trailer and a Thule rear seat. My 4 year old daughter loves the seat which means her two year old brother is often relegated to prince of the chariot. I’ll often have her in the seat and him in the trailer or sometimes both of them in the trailer. Recently up north at the cottage I took my 3 year old niece in the trailer with my son and my daughter on the seat for a triple whammy. That was a great work out! 

At what age did you start cycling with your children? 

We started biking together around the age of 12 months. 

What’s the primary reason for biking with your children? 

Getting them around the city is often easier with the bike. Zipping to daycare or a swimming lesson is a breeze and parking is easier than with my car. It’s great for fresh air and exercise and it makes for nice conversations with the kids, too. 

What’s your favourite part about biking with your children? 

The quality time we get to spend together outdoors and when they yell “Faster! Faster!” And I like how I feel after the uphill climb home with them towed behind me. 


Cargo Bikes 

Good for a variety of kids depending on construction.  

Amanda with her daughter in the cargo bike coming home from school.  

Amanda, Toronto 

What kind of carrier do you use? 

We bought a cargo bike a couple of years back and use it frequently to get around the city. It seats 4 kids and has an electric assist so it’s easy to get around. We love biking as a family and my 5 year old daughter’s friends love coming on playdates in the bike. Before the cargo bike we used a bike seat on the back of my husband’s bike.  

At what age did you start cycling with your children? 

Two years old for my daughter and my son went in the cargo bike in his car seat when he was three months old.  

What’s the primary reason for biking with your children? 

We love being outdoors and exploring the city and I hate driving. I used to bike to work because transit was so slow from our old neighborhood. We’re on the subway line now but we prefer the bike on the weekends. Biking saved us during the pandemic because we could explore parks all over the city. We called it our “tour de park” and we would research the best parks with our friends and all meet there in a bike gang.  

What’s your favourite part about biking with your children? 

We love being outside and active with our kids. We want them to see more of the city and appreciate all the city has to offer. We also want to give them confidence to explore the city by bike themselves when they’re older. I have many friends who live in the suburbs that say they’d never bike in the city, but Toronto has become so much more bikeable with protected bike lanes and Google maps picks out bike routes with lanes so it’s super easy to get around. Often when we map it out it’s faster to bike than drive in traffic.


Long Tail and Tagalong Attachment 

Good for a variety of kids depending on construction. 

Pete with his three children on the long tail in Ottawa. 

Pete, Ottawa 

What kind of carrier do you use? 

Since spring 2022 my “go-to” kid hauling bike has been a secondhand analogue Yuba long tail. We have a baby seat attached as well as “monkey bars” to hold the bigger kids in. Before we got the long tail, we used a Chariot trailer and a rear mounted child’s bike seat.  The chariot provides basic and affordable functionality, but it doesn’t compare to the long tail. We’ve since repurposed the chariot for child hauling while cross country skiing. We also have a tagalong attachment for the older two, which is like a half bike that we can attach to our own bikes.  

At what age did you start cycling with your children? 

For our eldest two we waited until they were old enough to hold their heads up with a helmet on, so about a year old. With our youngest, she was about 6 months old when we strapped her carseat into the back of the Yuba long tail the day after we got it. Once we made sure it was secure, we put one of her brothers in front to entertain her and the other on the tagalong attached to one of the adult bikes. The five of us then went to the beach. She was just under 1 when we installed the baby seat on the Yuba, and then all three of them could fit safely and comfortably on the back, which was a game changer. 

What’s the primary reason for biking with your children? 

We bike most places: daycare, school, summer camp, grocery store, the mall, the park, the pool, the library, the beach, the farmer’s market, coffee shops, ice cream stores, etc. We like to bike because it’s so much more fun than driving, and so much less stressful. It’s easy to hop on and off and to change destinations on the fly. 

The big basket on the front of the long tail is great for storing things–it easily fits a full basket of groceries. Since we got the long tail, it’s really easy to interact with the kids and they have a blast chatting and singing and looking around observing the world as it passes by.  

With the tagalong, I’m able to bike my eldest to school, detach and lock up the tagalong attachment, and then keep going to work, which is super convenient. Then the bike attachment is waiting at the end of the day. 

What’s your favourite part about biking with your children? 

It’s nice to be outside and able to interact with my kids in a mostly stress-free way. We’re lucky in that there are many amenities nearby, but also that we are close to some pretty multi-user pathway networks that can get us further afield without needing to worry about drivers, and that actually make getting to some places (like the beach) a lot more direct than driving would. 

The kids love it too. My youngest will yell “my bike!” and try to scale the long tail when she wants to go for a ride. It’s a way to get around for them, even though they’re sitting there, that’s more active than being strapped into a car, where the world is outside a window instead of right in front of them. They also enjoy singing and pointing out birds and different coloured doors and all sorts of things that they don’t do in the car. It’s just such a different experience for them, and one they seem to enjoy more. 

It’s also super convenient to bike. We are in a part of town that is not quite suburban, but definitely not “urban core” anymore. That said, when we lived more centrally, we still biked everywhere despite it being higher stress on busy streets. It was still less stressful than all the worries associated with driving. In many ways, it’s that slogan “biking provides the freedom car ads promise”. 


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Note: pointA does not derive any financial benefits from the listing of the shops above.

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