by James Gottlieb, MD
Pediatrician at Boulder Medical Center
As the weather starts warming up this spring in Boulder County, many of you will head outdoors with your children. I encourage you to get out and ride bikes as a family. There are so many trails to explore and neighborhoods to enjoy. While I want you to have fun on your rides, I promote doing so safely to prevent injury.
In my pediatric clinic at Boulder Medical Center, I often see soft tissue, dental, abdominal, and straddle injuries in my pediatric practice, along with concussions related to bicycle riding.
When to start biking with young children
When parents ask me about cycling with their children, I encourage them to look up specific manufacturers’ recommendations regarding safe riding with bike trailers and child carriers. There are many products, and each has been tested and rated for different age groups.
Most three-year-olds start to ride a tricycle, and even younger children are mastering the two-wheeled pedal-free bicycles. Between ages four and six, many children learn to ride a two-wheeler.
Safe cycling with kids
The most important thing to emphasize is that kids must wear helmets during every bike ride. Building this essential habit starts with the parents setting a good example. If your child sees you wearing a helmet, it will be the norm that they will follow. Besides helmets, I recommend shoes with a hard sole and closed toes to prevent foot, toe, and nail injuries. Don’t forget sunscreen and sunglasses!
Once children are five or six years old, you can teach them about riding safely around cars. Helping kids learn the difference between “left” and “right” is essential for them to ride on the right side of the street with traffic. This takes time and effort from parents, as children do not anticipate driver behavior reasonably. It is essential to teach the concept of staying alert, looking around, stopping at all intersections, and looking both ways before proceeding.
I encourage you to get out and explore all this area offers. Riding bikes as a family is a great way to enjoy being outdoors, experiencing a sense of adventure, and exercising with your kids.
If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend visiting The American Academy of Pediatrics website for parents, HealthyChildren.org.
As a board-certified pediatrician, Dr. Gottlieb enjoys getting to know each child and their family. “I love offering continuity of care and a medical home to my patients,” he says. He welcomes new patients to his practice in Boulder and Longmont, Colorado.