Sunday, November 21, 2010

How-To: Helping Your Child Nap Comfortably on a Bobike Mini

I spent much of the evening up with the fella pictured above, trying to help him fall back asleep.  Perhaps I should rename this post: "How To: Helping Your Child Nap a Little Too Comfortably on a Bobike Mini".

I'll save an exhaustive review of the Mini for another post, but let me begin by saying that we love this seat.  LOVE it.  When my two-year-old (let's call him Little) rides up front, it is easy for us to talk to each other.  I notice right away if something is making him uncomfortable, or if he needs something.  I can kiss his cheek or pass him a snack without fuss at red lights.  The (easily removable) windscreen we added this fall protects him from the rain and wind.  Most importantly, he is right where all the action is, dinging the bell, enjoying the view, signaling turns when the mood strikes.  He is fast outgrowing this seat (he is very tall), but we love having a kid up front so much that we just ordered a front kid saddle for the bike that will replace our current mama bike in March.  Here's a link to the saddle (and the bike, a Workcycles Fr8):

I purchased the Mini in the spring, but rode around for a few months before I got the hang of helping Little nap comfortably in it.  At first, I would try to use my arm to cushion his head when he drifted off.  This was quite uncomfortable, and occasionally prevented me from signaling turns properly.   I knew that Bobike made a headrest for the Mini, but I couldn't find anyone in Oregon who carried the more padded version I was after.  (Here are links to the two versions I've seen: with cushion attachment, without cushion -- scroll down the page a bit to see the without cushion sample on that second link.)  Only an unpadded version was available through the shops I checked with.  Then one day, it dawned on me that I didn't need a headrest.  I just needed a little pillow. 

We have a couple of favorite pillows.  Because we are always trying to pare down the amount of stuff we are hauling, our pillows are typically improvised from things we were planning to bring on the bike anyhow.  In the photo above, Little is resting his head on a knit cap that has been stuffed with a small pocket sling.  Knit caps are excellent for this purpose, as long as they are not made of cotton.  Wet cotton would, of course, make Little's face cold if it was sprinkled with a little rain during the ride.  Our favorite pillow component for Little is actually a SmartWool cap belonging to his older brother (call him "Bigger").  As the weather in this photo was chilly and wet (mid-thirties to upper forties, I believe -- brisk for Eugene), Bigger had his nice warm cap placed very sensibly on his noggin.

 (The helmet is on loan from Paul's Bicycles, who very kindly offered us the use of this rental helmet -- free of charge -- while we are waiting for Bigger's new, special order helmet to arrive in their store.  The Nutcase helmet he had previously been using just didn't fit him, but that's a story for another day.  Actually, this one looks like I didn't adjust it properly to accommodate his cap, as it is sliding back and to one side on his head.)

We also like to use a small wet/dry bag that we used to carry Little's cotton diapers before he was potty trained, but that's out for the winter as it is cotton on the outside.  These days, it is stuffed with his change of clothes, which are equally soft and comfy, and could work as a winter bike pillow in a pinch.

If we are traveling around Little's nap time, I simply put the sling and cap just inside my bag or purse, so that I won't have to dig around for it.  Then, when he starts to nod off, I can easily reach into the crate behind my saddle to retrieve the pillow.  I rest it atop my handlebars below Little's head, then gently guide him into the most comfortable position.  Simple!  I can't believe that I ever thought I needed a $40 metal and foam product to help Little nap comfortably on the bike.

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