Q: My older son, 4 years old, still enjoys riding in a carseat with a five-point harness as opposed to a booster seat. Problem is that at 47 lbs and ” tall, he is outgrowing the reccomendations for using the harness on his carseat. They give a higher weight limit when using it as a booster. Are those weight/height guidelines hard and fast? What about the carseat that he has surpassed the limit for altogether? Will the seat still provide the protection he needs? I’d like to avoid replacing the seats if possible. 

A: You want to make sure you follow all weight and height limits on the seats you are using.  Going beyond those limits, will not offer your child the seat’s intended protection.  If your child has out grown the harness of his seat and the seat offers a booster seat option; follow the instructions to remove the harness system and utilize the seat in booster mode.  If you are unsure and would like to give me a call or set an appointment to come by, I would be happy to help.  If you would like to keep your child in a harnessed seat, another option (which you have said you would like to avoid) is replacing his seat with a high weight harness seat.  There are harness seats that go up to 65, even 70+ lbs.  Harnessing offers better protection for your child, and the high weight  harness option allows your child to be better protected for an extended period of time, while his body is still developing.  I can go on forever, but those are your basic options.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call or email.

Q: What age is a baby/young child pretty much guaranteed not to experience any brain injury from a normal ride in a bike trailer on paved roads and dirt paths? We’ve been riding with my 18-month-old in a trailer and a baby seat (with shocks).  They say no babies under one, but I want to be absolutely sure we are not harming our sweet boy.

A: Although professionals and manufacturers cannot give a 100% guarantee of no injury sign-off with any product, safety tips provided by safety professionals can help to reduce the chances of injury. We sometimes like to compare the hazards of riding in a bike trailer, seat or jogging stroller to shaken baby syndrome, if the child is too young to withstand the shakes and bumps that may be encountered along the ride (under the age of one or the age stated in the manufacturer’s instructions.)  Avoiding uneven streets, with pot holes may help the bumpy situation, but some trailers are labeled for off-road use only, so you have to read the instructions provided from cover to cover for proper use. Making sure that you follow all instructions provided is your best bet.  You may want to visit http://www.cpsc.gov/ to see if there are any recalls on the trailer you have and check to see if there have been any complaints about the product. Some professionals recommend a trailer over the seat.  The shocks are designed to absorb SOME of forces that may be distributed to the child as a result of bumps or a collision, but there are no 100% guarantees.

Because of its low profile, a bicycle trailer, which attaches to the rear axle or frame of a bike and can usually transport one child age 1 to 6 or so, it can be difficult for motorists to see, especially in limited light. (If you go this route, get a 31/2 -foot- to 7-foot-tall, high-visibility orange flag for it.) Trailers are also wider than the bike, so they take up more of the roadway. If you’re riding on the shoulder of a road, which Consumer Product Safety Commission does not recommend because they consider trailers “off-road” vehicles, the trailer can stick out into the road if you’re not careful. And trailers can tip over if you turn abruptly or turn when one wheel is going over a bump. As you speed up, braking becomes more difficult, especially on wet surfaces. Trailers can become snagged on bushes or other objects.  Make sure that your child is wearing an approved bicycle helmet and make sure that the helmet is fitted properly.  In LA drivers are required to share the road with bicyclists, but remember to practice defensive bicycling while you are riding, follow all traffic laws, and keeping trailers to neighborhood streets may be safer if you will be utilizing one. These are some additional situations you may want to consider before going on your ride.  Visit http://news.consumerreports.org/baby/2009/05/bicycle-seats-vs-bike-trailers-for-children.html and http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bhsi.org%2Flittle1s.htm&h=6bf7a1bHoTZ3p8TxGlqEtxbiHhg to read bike trailer vs. bike seat articles.