Naps. They are a blessing and a curse. If you ride with kids under age 5 on bikes, you know this. Two-wheeled kid transport is soporific, better than a benadryl blowdart, so biking parents need to be able to make naps happen while out and about.
Some family bike setups excel at unexpected naps, some do not. Having done toddler-on-a-bike twice now, on a variety of kid conveyances, here is what we have found.
But for older kids in the unhacked trailer seat, the weight of the helmet and the lack of adequate clearance for the back of the helmet leads to head nodding, bobble-head, and other uncomfortable, painful-looking nap scenarios. Unless you've got company:
I love front-monted seats for the littles, but they're not great for napping. The WeeRide has a big napping pad, which is nice, but the straps were a joke, and you still end up needing to use an arm to support the head to some degree. Dutch front seats like the Bobike Mini and Yepp Mini have "sleeproll" accessories, but they're narrow enough that you'll still need to dedicate an arm to maintain the nap, which makes steering awkward, leads to cramps, and makes stop and go riding more frustrating. Doable, but not exactly comfortable.
I like this solution, from mamafiets, where you stuff your extra kid clothes into a sling or bag.
Dutch-style rear seats don't have much head support, and even the US "drastic plastic" wraparound jobbies don't keep a child's big 'ol head from nodding forward, lolling from side to side. Doesn't look comfortable to me, and rear seats are right over the axle, so it's a bumpier ride. This situation tends to limit the length, route, or speed of travel, and doesn't feel as restful as some of the other options. But maybe I'm picky.
Bakfietsen and Other Long-John Cargo-Forward Bikes
These are so versatile when it comes to naps. Infant seat strapped rear-facing, child seated on Sleep Dog, kid laid out in the box with cushions and blankies, cozy under a rain canopy ... naptastic. Plus you can keep an eye on them, in case you get a bad case of the "ohmigod are they still breathing" parent jitters. Easy, secure parking too.
MADSEN "Bucket Bike"
The MADSEN cargo bike also makes it to the napping podium, as it's so versatile in terms of napping positions, and accomodating 2 kids at different napping ages & stages, with some separation from the central divider.
Our infant seat was nap Xanadu ...
For older kids it's so easy to pull up a bench seat, put down a cushion or some jackets, use the belts if you wish (they're bolted below the benches), and cover with cozy blankets. Protection from the elements is key. That's an Uppababy shade, but a waterproof canopy for the MADSEN is in the works.
In the year where our older one refused to nap at home, I had many a craftily-timed "Mystery Ride" where I'd arrive at our destination with both kids asleep, leaving 45 minutes of me-time, followed by excited wakeups at the beach or Aquarium or wherever my Urban Family Flâneur fancy took us.
Xtracycles and Other Longtails
You can fit front or rear seats to xtracycles, but a longtail does open up some additional, er, creative solutions.
On our first long ride, as we rode home on the Elliott Bay Trail, I felt our almost 4yo's nodding head bonk my behind a few times as Drew started to fall asleep, holding onto the stoker bars. What to do? My wife suggested we play "Marco Polo" which worked well for awhile. Car Free Days keeps some candy handy, and I indeed had a lollipop hit to offer Drew.
I'm told that a parent's backside makes a lovely forward-leaning cushion. But I'm still nervous; ours is a kid that falls out of bed every other night. Maybe on a bike trail, but not in traffic. So we've moved some Bobike Maxi mounts over to the xtracycle, for all-day action.
And if you thought that was iffy ...
And on our first xtracycle ride, too! In my defense, Luc fell asleep in the front seat just before we got to the cyclocross race at the zoo, and I'd been longtail-obsessed long enough to have seen the Adkins clan pull this off. So I walked the bike around the race for a bit, and then rode a few blocks on sidewalk to a cafe. Where I parked it outside (in view, natch) until he woke up. Great setup if you like double-takes and don't mind CPS involvement. Wideloader extensions would make a tipover slightly less sketchy, but overall I don't think I'll be doing this on any regular basis.
The safest napping options seem to involve an enclosure of some sort, in case of a crash. We've only ever had flukey low-speed slo-motion harmless tipovers in our family, but I don't think we're giving into our "culture of fear" to plan for the possibility of going down on the bike.
Here's how Katie and Dave tricked out their Yuba Mundo as a baby-napping Green Machine. Solid. Baby on Board indeed.
Asleep on the Wheel
What works for your younguns? How do they loll while you roll?
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Bakfiets For the Win Addendum
Todd Fahrner nominates this video in the comments, in which a Dutch dad pedals 3 sleeping kids down a cyclepath while shooting a one-handed "Panda" video. No helmets, 'cause they're Dutch, and protected by the magical powers of separate bicycle infrastructure, decades of motorist-taming, and riding bikes since the womb (not to mention elves in blackface). Top this, people: