Whether you’re hoping to continue the cycle-to-school run or you’re heading out for a regular Sunday saunter, keeping children warm on bike rides will be important to maintaining their motivation and enjoyment through the colder months.
While many of the same principles apply with keeping an adult warm, it’s important to anticipate a child’s needs before they decide it’s not for them. Avoiding the cold and wet may mean you just don’t get out, so here’s some tips for staying warm on your outings.
Before you head out, check to see whether their bikes (or yours if you’re using a bike seat) are in good working order with bright lights for visibility on a gloomy day. Mudguards, whilst not a safety feature as such, can prevent spray from the ground soaking you or your little one. Finally, high visibility clothing is an obvious choice if you’ll be going anywhere near the road.
Babies and toddlers
If your child is on your bike, they won’t be generating much heat and will therefore get colder much quicker than the person pedalling. If you’ll be cycling in the wind and rain often, it may be worth investing in a cover which you can get for trailers and child bike seats.
If this isn’t an option, wind and water proofing is of particular importance since wind chill can remove heat very quickly. An all-in-one waterproof can be a good option, being aware of sizing the jumpsuit to leave plenty of room for layers underneath according to the temperature. Alternatively a poncho could offer a similar level of cover, as long as it isn’t flapping in the wind.
Head and hands
For little hands, mittens are a great option as gloves are fiddly, uncomfortable and don’t offer the same warmth. You can usually get them with a piece of cotton attached to each mitt which will thread through the arms of their jacket or jumpsuit – or you can attach one yourself. This ensures they don’t remove and lose them on your ride, leaving them vulnerable to the cold.
A good woolen hat is an obvious choice for a child if they’re in a trailer and not wearing a helmet but with a helmet, other options are required. Helmet hats are available, or you can opt for a fleece skull-cap or beanie with ear flaps. A windproof outer layer would offer additional warmth-retention and a waterproof outer would be even better.
Try to ensure their feet are subject to as little wind as possible, avoiding vented shoes. With a windproof jumpsuit, they may already be contained but it might be helpful to get creative with other methods instead of purchasing tiny overshoes.
Alternatively a good pair of wellington boots over wooly socks will suffice. Be sure to put any waterproof layers over boots to avoid water getting in from the top.
An older child will likely be riding their own bike and so may be more exposed to the elements. Follow basic principles which you would use to keep yourself warm. For instance, in the wet you might avoid wearing a cotton base layer, instead opting for wool or something synthetic which can wick sweat away and not retain moisture.
Layering your core ensures optimum body temperature is maintained and you would follow this up with a decent waterproof outer, including waterproof pants.
At the same time, you may want to take notice if your child is overdressed in case they work up a sweat and in turn start to chill. Warm gloves, glove liners and maybe even a spare pair of gloves would be useful if you’re heading out on a wet and cold ride. Additionally, a buff can be helpful in retaining warmth, and of course a warm hat is especially important in inclement weather. They may be at a size where it is worth investing in overshoes, with affordable options available, or you may opt for a plastic bag in between two pairs of socks. Ensure shoes are not tightly fitted so as to ensure blood flow to their feet.
Getting out during the colder months can feel like a mammoth task initially after t-shirt weather in the summer, but you do eventually get used to what is required, ensuring a swift operation in leaving the house by the start of spring. There’s great enjoyment to be had in watching the seasons change from the bike, and as long as your child is warm, they’re sure to enjoy it. That hot chocolate at the end of the ride will be especially tasty when you’ve embraced the elements as a family.