Bike trailers, famous as tag-along bikes, present an easy and convenient way for kids who can’t ride independently to join your ride. The question, however, is, what age can a child use a bike trailer?
Ideally, children can start using a bike trailer from 1 year if they can sit upright and hold their heads unaided. Infants (under 12 months), however, will need to use special inserts (snugglers) or car seats for support and extra comfort.
And if you ride on the streets, the child will need a helmet, but more importantly, you should observe your state laws on child bike trailers.
But generally, most bike trailers don’t have age limits but weight limits. So, you may search hard to find a child bike trailer that coincides with your child’s age. But once you know their weight, it becomes easy to match them in the correct tag-along bike.
And since kids need special considerations, you’ll need to observe a few extra safety tips, which I’ll share in this post. But first, let’s shed more light on factors determining the age you should introduce your child to a bike trailer.
Factors Determining What Age a Child Can Use a Bike Trailer
Generally, the minimum age to introduce your child into a bike trailer depends on these factors:
- Can the child sit upright?
- Can the child hold their head unsupported?
- The states laws
- Can they wear a helmet?
1. Can The Child Sit Upright Unsupported?
According to leading bike trailer manufacturer Burley, ‘a child should be able to sit upright and hold their head’ to use a bike trailer.
While kids’ developments differ, Burley sees they will likely happen within one year. So, if your kid can sit upright unsupported, likely to occur from 12 months, they can use a bicycle trailer.
2. Can The Child Support Their Head?
While this point is related to the first one, it’s essential to insist that the child should not just sit upright but also support their head.
Remember, infants typically need an adult to support their head when moving them as their neck muscles are still not strong. Therefore, putting a child under one year in a bike trailer might be risky because they are less likely to hold their heads.
So, it’s not just about the child having stronger back muscles but also neck muscles.
3. The State Laws
Laws differ between states. So, it’s imperative to understand your state’s minimum age requirement for bike trailers before introducing your child to one.
You wouldn’t want the men in uniform to pull you up for breaking a traffic rule, would you? In the US, for example, the minimum age requirement for kids using bike trailers is 12 months.
However, you may do it starting from 6 months in other countries such as the UK and Japan if your kid meets conditions 1 and 2 above.
4. Can the Child Wear a Helmet?
In most states, a child in a bike trailer is considered a passenger if the trailer is in bike mode. So, they’ll need to wear a helmet.
Let’s face it, that’s unlikely to be the case when they cannot hold their head, given the weight of bike helmets. It again supports the argument of one year being the benchmark.
What If the Child Is Under 12 Months? Can They Use a Bike Trailer?
Ordinarily, a child under 12 months (an infant) shouldn’t ride in a ‘regular’ bike trailer. Note that the word regular is in quotes. That means there is an exception.
Regular bike trailers are just the way they are without any add-on. However, if you add a trailer insert (snuggler) or child car seat, you make the trailer safer for the kid.
In that case, the add-on will offer the child back and neck support, things missing on regular bicycle trailers.
Let’s discuss the two options to help you understand them and choose between them.
a) Car Seats (Best for Bike Trailers for One Child)
If you have a car seat that your infant uses, then you don’t have to worry about them riding in a bike trailer. Just detach the car seat and mount it inside the bike trailer.
Some parents even get the child’s car seat solely for this purpose. The only major limitation is that it’s only best for one child. If you’ve twins, you may have a problem fitting two car seats in one bike trailer.
The other concern that may not be alarming is that child car seats take up much space. So, you may not have room for your gear once you fit it.
But positively, car-bike seats offer these advantages:
- They are safe
- They are comfortable
- Support your infant’s neck and head
- They fit most bicycle trailers
b) Trailers Inserts or Snugglers (Best for Bike Trailer for 2 Kids)
Now, if you’ve twins or infants of almost the same age that you would want to put in a bike trailer, it’s recommended to use a trailer insert or snuggler.
This particular add-on promises the same benefits as a car-bike seat with the extra advantage of carrying one more passenger. So, you can count on them for these pros:
- They are comfortable for the infants
- They are safer inside the bike trailer
- Support the infant’s neck and head muscles
- Hold up to two infants
- Don’t occupy as much space as car seats
The biggest issue with snugglers is that they aren’t compatible with many bike trailers. Also, the options are limited, and they mean an additional cost.
Consider Burley Design Baby Snuggler (View on Amazon) if you want the safest, most supportive, and most comfortable trailer insert.
This bike trailer offers exceptional lumbar support, making it the ultimate choice for infants. It’s generally recommendable for kids aged 6-24 months. So, if you get a bike trailer for 6 month old, this is the snuggler to go for.
Safety Tips for A Child Using a Bike Trailer
Safety is paramount when your child uses a bike trailer. And even though going for the safest bike trailer is essential, you must observe a few guidelines to ensure your child’s safety.
Here are the general must-dos:
a) Keep The Speed Low
For the safety of your youngster and yourself, you shouldn’t ride fast when pulling a bike trailer. Your speed shouldn’t exceed 10mph to avoid losing control of the bike.
A low speed offers you more leverage when steering the bike up and downhill and navigating corners. Furthermore, it makes braking easier and the ride funnier and more comfortable for your young passengers.
b) Avoid Rough Roads
If you want your child to have a comfortable ride and for you to ride the bike safely, try to avoid rough roads as much as you can.
And if you must ride on rough roads, go for a bike trailer with suspension, such as the Burley Encore X (View on Amazon). This bike trailer for baby has a suspension system integrated into its rear wheels to offer bump cushioning when riding on rough roads.
Even better, its canopy offers UV protection and can convert into a child stroller. So, you wouldn’t have to get a separate baby stroller. The bike trailer has a 2-seat capacity and a load limit of 100 pounds.
c) Weather Protection Is Key
It’s not enough to get a bike trailer; you should get an option that offers sun protection. It’s risky to leave your child uncovered in a trailer on a hot afternoon.
Luckily, most trailers don’t just have a canopy, but the canopy comes UV-protected. Not only that, the canopy should be waterproof to protect your child against rain.
If you settle for a bike trailer without a canopy, don’t go very far when the weather is unpredictable.
d) Don’t Forget the Safety Flag
Child bike trailers sit low, making it hard for some road users to see you from afar. Consequently, attaching a safety flag is recommended to allow the motorists to see you from a distance.
Fortunately, most bike trailers always have a safety flag. And if it doesn’t, you can always get one.
e) Put A Helmet On Your Child
Lastly, a helmet is necessary for a child riding a trailer bike on most streets. Generally, it’s illegal to ride without a helmet on the streets.
Though most parents are not fans of the add-ons, it’s essential for your child. If you wear a helmet, so should your child, unless it’s an infant.
The good thing is that helmets are for kids as young as 1-2 years.
Are Bike Trailers Safe for Toddlers?
One thing every concerned parent thinks when they hear about bike trailers is, ‘are they safe?’
Well, let me begin by declaring that the risks are there. For example, their low-sitting position means some motorists are less likely to see you when it gets cloudy. That’s why it’s advisable to use bike safety flags.
The other risk is adverse weather. Without a weather-protected canopy, you expose your child to rain, UV rays, and other harsh weather elements. For that reason, go for a trailer with a waterproof canopy.
And given that you are likely to lose control when speeding up and riding on rough roads, keep the speed under 10 mph and avoid rough roads.
But still, it doesn’t mean you should ride under heavy traffic just because the roads are smooth. The risks are much bigger there.
Once you observe the correct safety tips, your kid will be safe on a bike trailer.
People Also Ask
1. What Is the Best Child Bike Trailer?
Based on comfort, safety, ease of use, and build quality, here are the best child bike trailers on Amazon:
- Burley Encore X – Best Bike Trailer for 2 Kids
- Burley D’ Lite X – Bike Trailer for 5 Year Old
- Instep Bike Trailer for Toddlers – Best Budget Kids’ Bike Trailer
2. Is There A Bike Trailer for 3 Kids?
Overall, you are less likely to find bike trailers for three kids. Most bike trailers come with one or two seats. So, you’ll squeeze the young ones if you put them in a 2-seat trailer.
3. What Age Can Child Go in Bike Trailer?
It’s recommendable to put your child in a bike trailer when they can support their back and neck unaided. That’s likely to happen in 1 year. However, you can use a car seat or snuggler in a bike trailer to support an infant.
4. Can A 4 Year Old Ride in A Bike Trailer?
Bike trailers are generally best for 1 – 7 years olds. So, yes, a 4-year-old can ride a bike trailer. However, they must wear helmets to boost their safety when navigating the streets.
5. But Can My 9 Month Old Ride in A Bike Trailer?
Bike trailers are generally best from 1 year when the child can support their back and neck. At nine months, that’s unlikely to happen as the back and neck muscles are less strong. That’s unless you first insert a child car seat or snuggler into the bike trailer.
In Conclusion – At What Age Can a Child Use a Bike Trailer?
As shared, the best age for a child to use a bike trailer is one year. But still, the child should be able to support their head and sit upright, and the laws of the hand should allow that.
As for infants, it’s advisable to use snugglers (trailer inserts) or child car seats to support their neck and back.