Working Out with Babies and Toddlers
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We know a woman who was the number-one ranked road cyclist in Montana who had her eye on the 1988 U.S. Olympic Trials. A year before the race, she became pregnant and had a baby girl. Instead of compromising her dream, as soon as she was up to it, she set her new little training partner in a bike trailer and trained like a madwoman. Ironically (or not), she became fitter fast. So much so, in fact, that many of her unencumbered teammates starting pulling weighted wagons as well.
Baby seats come in two types front or rear mount while trailers put the child at ground level behind your bike. We recently read about a family of five mother, dad, and three kids who cycled across the United States on a rather ingenious bicycle built for four with the youngest riding comfortably in a trailer. Ambitious, no doubt, but doable.
Baby Bicycle Seats
As we just mentioned, baby seats are attached to either the back of the bicycle (the most common) or the front. Most are recommended for children eight months of age or up to 40 pounds. Check with the individual manufacturers for the specifics. Most are outfitted with a padded seat, armrests, and adjustable footrests along with a lap and shoulder harness. No matter which model you buy, start slowly and get your infant used to the idea even have him or her sit in it a few times inside without pedaling at all. Start slowly and you'll be able to go further, longer, later.
According to the journal The Physician and Sports Medicine, while rear-mounted baby seats are more popular, the safety of the front-mounted seats is preferred. The journal points to the improved stability and balance of the front mounts as well as the ability for the parent and child to communicate more easily. If you use a rear-mounted one, make sure that the child's hands are well shielded from the wheel and exercise caution when climbing out of the saddle, as there will be an unusual shift of weight to the rear of the bike.
Most manufacturers recommend their seats for children as young as 9 to 12 months, though you should check with your (child's) pediatrician. The main concern is your child's ability to maintain proper head and neck control. The capacity of most seats is 30 to 40 pounds. After that, a trailer is the way to go.
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Short Workouts © 2001 by Deidre Johnson-Cane, Jonathan Cane, and Joe Glickman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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