Family Biking: Strolling with a baby, rolling with a toddler

Posted by on March 15th, 2022 at 9:12 am

Noël and I on one of our strolls.

(We are thrilled to have our Family Biking columnist Shannon Johnson back in the fold after a few months of maternity leave!)

Let me introduce you to the newest member of our biking family: Felix Noël. He was born on December 28, 2021. (Remember that really snowy day after Christmas? Yep, that’s when he arrived!) We’ve had a good few months of rocking and cuddling, but I’m eager to get out riding again.

Felix and I haven’t been on the bike yet, and I definitely miss it. Meanwhile, my toddler loves the opportunity to ride his balance bike to the park, instead of taking his usual bakfiets ride, though I find supervising a toddler on a balance bike to be a new realm of parental stress. I know balance bikes are much beloved, but it gives my two-year-old a level of speed and independence that I’m not always ready for (see his happy little face below). I now spend our walks repeating, “stay right next to Mommy, wait, wait up, Mommy goes first, okay, good job, stay right next to Mommy,” (as I don’t want him rolling behind a car backing out of a driveway with limited visibility to see a two foot tall toddler). It’s a relief when we arrive at the playground and my little guy can finally “zoom” around on a carfree path. Maybe when I get back to riding I can tote the balance bike to the park and he can just enjoy car-free zooming. That would make us both happy!

(How do the rest of you balance bike lovers manage your speedy toddlers?)

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For a less stressful stroll, I enjoy any opportunity to take baby-wearing walks with just Felix. I’m extremely excited about my baby-wearing rain jacket, which has a zip-in panel to accommodate a baby in a carrier. Prior to this, it could be tricky to figure out how to keep a baby dry in the rain and drizzle. A baby-wearing jacket is quite the upgrade from the typical strategy of zipping a baby into an oversized and ill-fitting husband coat. This is how we stroll at the moment.

How have the rest of you parents managed during the postpartum period? Did you walk more? Ride the bus? Drive around or just stay home? Did you enjoy slowing down, or did you go stir crazy? When did you get back on the bike?

Since I only began family biking last April, I’ve been surprised at how much I miss it, and how much a part of our lives it has become. My cargo bike is truly my favorite kid toting transportation option. It’s more fun than loading up the van, faster than walking, and easier for toting armloads of kid stuff. While we slowly walk our way through a pedestrian postpartum period, I can tell we’ll be back on the bike soon.

On that note, I’ve been working on a column about the “biking with baby” debate, so that’s something to look forward to.

In the meantime, we’re strolling and toddler rolling, dreaming about new bike adventures, preparing to give public transit another try, and signing our oldest up for bike camp: if you haven’t done so yet, now is the time! (Please post your fave summer bike camp in the comments, to spread the fun. My kiddo will be riding with WashCo Bikes Saddle Up Camp on the west side, and we’re stoked!). Until then, enjoy your rides.

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Beau McDermottShannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)MattLisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)SilkySlim Recent comment authors
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Lance
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I look forward to seeing you at Kidical Mass this summer.

SilkySlim
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SilkySlim

Well this is on topic for me, having a toddler just a handful of months older that yours. My most interesting anecdote is how much my kid wants to model my behavior regarding transportation. Last fall, when I was biking with him all the time (via one of those seats that attaches right behind me), he was all about jumping on his little strider any time we went outside. But through a winter that involved more driving, he is now obsessed with his little tykes flintstone style car. Time to reverse that!

I also add that this resource is a gem: https://hiddenportlandmap.com/

Having little micro destinations is exactly the right thing for a toddler’s attention span.

Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)
Editor

Welcome back! You look beautiful, and that headful of hair on the baby–wow.

I’m trying to avoid saying “In Paris they …” it’s annoying, but in Paris balance bikes were all the rage, as were scooters for the under three crowd (they had a long handle for the parent, and even a little seat, although the silhouette was scooter-like).

Kids didn’t walk much, they all had some set of wheels. Parisian parents were pretty tough, and willing to take risks with their kids that I wasn’t comfortable with (my son was a toddler in western Queens). But, I did see some impressively traffic savvy children. One 10 year old girl on a velib who could barely reach the pedals riding on a major street in rush hour traffic and throwing looks over her shoulder worthy of an adult commuter as she crossed intersections.

Good luck!

Shannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)
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Shannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)

Oooh, you’ll have to scout out the “biking with babies” scene for me in Paris! I love comparing our/my thoughts/biases/impulses with folks from other parts of the world. I’ll be happy to borrow some Parisian boldness!

Matt
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Matt

For the speedy toddler on the scoot bike, maybe one of those child leashes is warranted? They seem silly but I’ve seen them used to good effect.

Beau McDermott
Guest

Aww! Welcome in, lil Felix!
—And welcome back and congratulations to you, Shannon.
Looking forward to reading/sharing your family biking thoughts and adventures this year. Cheers!