Our First Bike Tour With A Baby & Toddler

Hello world, meet Max.


He’s cute, eh? He’s also the reason behind our silence lately.

Between working, taking care of two young kids and generally enjoying life, the number of chances we have to put fingers to a keyboard is, well, zero. Today — six months after Max was born — we finally feel like things are starting to settle down a bit and, amazingly, we have a few moments to sit, think and write. Thank you nap time, glorious nap time, and television.

Let’s start with Max’s first bike tour.

Max is an easy baby who sleeps a lot, so when he was about six weeks old we felt fit enough for an S240 adventure. Our packing style wasn’t what you’d call ideal but it got us there and, for the moment, that’s all that matters!

To make everything fit, we used our bakfiets (Dutch cargo bike) and our new Circe Morpheus, a semi-recumbent tandem.

Luke & Friedel on the Circe Morpheus, towing a Radical Designs trailer.

A good chunk of our gear went into the Radical Designs trailer, which Friedel and Luke towed behind the Morpheus. The rest was loaded on our cargo bike. Max also rode in the cargo bike, in a car seat which we have fixed to the base of the wooden basket with a Baby Mee frame. You can barely see his car seat in the photo below but yes, he is there!

Andrew with Max and the rest of the gear, loaded into our Dutch cargo bike.

Andrew with Max and the rest of the gear, loaded into our Dutch cargo bike.

From What Age?

Many people ask us when you can safely take a baby on a bike. From the research we did when Luke was born (and re-confirmed during Max’s health checkups), cycling is best avoided in the first six weeks. After that, some careful cycling with a very young babe is fine. The caveats are as follows:

  • Short trips (30 minutes per day)
  • Smooth roads (avoid cobblestones and dirt roads, go slowly over bumps and curbs)
  • Well strapped in (we currently use a car seat mounted in a cargo bike)
  • Not before 6 weeks old (you may want to start later, depending on the strength of your child; Max and Luke were both fairly robust, strong babies)

Our first ride looked like this, and was just a short spin around the block. The campsite we visited for our S240 is less than 10km from home.

Max Luke Bakfiets

Max and Luke in the bakfiets, ready for a short ride around the block.

Overall it went fairly smoothly. Marshmallows were roasted. The tent was erected and both kids slept happily through the night.

Roasting marshmallows around the campfire.

Roasting marshmallows around the campfire.

Lessons Learned

As always, we learned a few lessons.

  1. Divide and Conquer: When Luke came along, we quickly learned that one of us would have to exclusively care for him, while the other did the work around the campsite. Otherwise baby gets bored, or into trouble, and nothing gets done. The same principle is doubly true when you have more than one kid.
  2. Bring a Sling: A sling, wrap or anything else that lets you ‘wear’ your baby so you have two hands free to cook, set up the tent or play with older children is invaluable.
  3. Older Kids Get Their Own Chair: We have two Helinox camping chairs and assumed 3-year-old Luke would be fine sitting on the ground on a mat by the tent. His legs and back are young, right? Wrong. He constantly wanted to steal our chair. Next time, Luke gets his own chair.

    Chair stealer!

    Chair stealer!

  4. Simple Meals: As kid-free bike travellers, our bike touring suppers could be fairly elaborate. With kids, we have little time and when the kids are hungry, they’re hungry NOW. To prevent tantrums, we decided not to cook at all. Instead, we filled a pannier with picnic food (pre-chopped veggies, bread, cheese, salami, etc) so that we could snack without needing to prepare anything.
  5. Comfort Items for Older Kids: When Luke was a baby, he only needed us to feel safe. Now he has a much more established sense of home, and he misses it when we go away. He finds it hard to settle in the tent if he doesn’t have a few familiar comfort items, so we packed his pillow, hot water bottle and a few toys.

There are many more tips we could share, but break time is over. Hopefully we can expand on this topic in our next post, and we’ll do our best to make sure it happens before the next six months fly by!