Did you know that there are a number of different types of bike seats designed for children? Which one is right for your child will depend on the age and size of the child, as well as their height. So which seat should you get?
After testing over twenty child bike seats, we found that the Thule Ridealong was best for its exceptional features and quality construction.
Of course, choosing a child’s bike seat isn’t easy. There’s a lot to consider! You need a seat that’s safe and comfortable for your little one. You also need a seat that works with your bicycle.
Finding those things together can be a frustrating challenge. Even with thorough research, you can end up buying a dud seat, one that seems flimsy, uncomfortable, or simply won’t work with your bike!
Purchasing a seat like the Thule Ridealong is ideal for most people. It’s a rear frame-mounted seat with all the top features, like adjustable footrests, detachable seat padding, and a shock-absorbing suspension system.
That said, the Thule Ridealong won’t work for every situation. If you want to ride with a younger toddler or baby, you’ll need a front mount seat. And, if you have a rear rack installed on your bike, you’ll want a rear rack mount instead of a frame mount like the Thule Ridealong.
If you’re a mountain biker or have slightly older children, you may even want a mid-mount seat, which has limited safety features but allows children to participate in aggressive trail rides.
Needless to say, finding the best child bike seats comes with a lot of nuances, and there’s no one-size-fits-all option.
Read on to discover the top child bike seats for every situation.
The Top 8 Child Bike Seats For Every Situation
- Thule Ridealong (Rear Frame Mount)- Best Overall
- Barley Dash (Rear Frame or Rear Rack Mount)- Best Harness
- Hamax Caress (Rear Frame or Rear Rack Mount) – Best Mounting Features
- Schwinn Deluxe Mounted Child Carrier (Rear Frame Mount) – Best On A Budget
- Bellelli Pepe (Rear Rack Mount) – Best Adjustability
- Thule Yepp Next Mini (Front Mount) – Best Front Mount
- Hamax Observer (Front Mount) – Best On A Budget
- Do Little Universal Mid Mount Attachment – Best Mid Mount Seat
1.Thule Ridealong (Rear Frame Mount)- Best Overall
Thule makes high-quality children’s bike seats with all the accessories you need and a few features that are handy to have. The Thule Ridealong is easy to use and mount as long as your bike is compatible with rear frame mounting. It has a universal quick-release bracket that allows you to attach or remove the seat in a matter of seconds.
It also features an excellent shock-absorbing suspension system, so your child has a smoother ride. One of the biggest complaints with child bike seats is the lack of suspension. Every bump and curb you hit is amplified for your little one in most seats. But the Thule Ridealong fixes that with an excellent dual-beam suspension system.
We wish it had a five-point harness, but the three-point harness is of impeccable quality. It’s super-padded, which keeps the shoulder straps from sliding off, even when you’re dealing with a wiggly toddler.
This seat also features adjustable footrests, which will protect your child’s feet from kicking the rear wheel. Plus, it offers detachable padding that’s machine washable and side wings to keep your child secure.
Best of all, the Thule Ridealong reclines. So, if your little one likes to take naps on the ride, their neck will remain in a comfortable position. That means you can ride longer while your child gets a nap in!
2.Barley Dash (Rear Frame or Rear Rack Mount)- Best Harness
Sleek, chic, and lightweight, the Barley Dash child bike seat is a favorite for its exceptionally designed harness.
Almost every other children’s seat features a harness that buckles at the crotch. Not only is this sometimes uncomfortable for the child, but it’s also not that secure. Even with five points, a determined toddler can usually wiggle out of the shoulder straps.
Barley Dash fixes that problem by raising the buckle to torso height. Once your child is buckled in, there’s no way they’re slipping back out!
The Barley Dash comes in three models: a rear frame mount, a rear rack mount, or a reclining rear frame mount. All three options have a slightly recessed headrest, allowing room for your child’s helmet. They also offer water-resistant seat padding and adjustable footrests.
We also love that the Barley Dash comes with a small storage compartment, perfect for stashing a light jacket, your keys, or even your wallet.
3.Hamax Caress (Rear Frame or Rear Rack Mount) – Best Mounting Features
If wires around your bike seat prevent you from using a rear frame-mounted seat, you should consider the Hamax Caress. This seat offers a unique mounting block that gets around the wires, making it compatible with most bikes.
Of course, Hamax also offers rack-mounting versions for those who still need them. Either way, you’ll find Hamax seats provide plenty of shock-absorbing suspension, which is rare for rack-mounting models.
Hamax is a Scandinavian brand, and its construction and safety protocols are top-notch. The frame-mounted model reclines, and both options offer height-adjustable shoulder straps and footrests. The Hamax Caress is a bit heavy, and it might take you a few minutes to adjust to the added weight, but you can rest assured your child is safe.
4.Schwinn Deluxe Mounted Child Carrier (Rear Frame Mount) – Best On A Budget
The Schwinn Deluxe Mounted Child Carrier offers high-quality from a trusted brand at a very affordable price. This is a rear frame-mounted seat, and Schwinn doesn’t offer a rack option. That said, if your bike can accommodate a frame mount, it’s a great choice.
The Schwinn seat features a padded crossbar that provides extra safety in the event of a crash and acts as a handy place for toddlers to grab hold. In addition, the seat comes with a spoke guard, leg restraints, and footrests to keep your child’s toes safe from the rear tire.
The only negative we can find with the Schwinn seat is in the installation process. Manufacturers claim it’s easy, but it can take some time to get right. Plus, because of the way this seat attaches to the bike frame, you’ll want to check that the bolts are tight before each ride.
5.Bellelli Pepe (Rear Rack Mount)- Best Adjustability
If you need a rear rack mount seat that will grow with your child, the Bellelli Pepe is one of your best bets. At a very reasonable price, this seat offers several adjustable features.
It has three shoulder height slots, so you can adjust the shoulder straps to fit perfectly. It also has two seat depth settings, allowing you to ensure the harness buckle sits close to your child’s body.
Both of those features help make up for the three-point harness with simple nylon straps, which alone wouldn’t do much to keep a toddler secure. The Bellelli Pepe also features adjustable footrests, and it’s very easy to install. Plus, it’s available in several stylish color combos.
6.Thule Yepp Next Mini (Front Mount) – Best Front Mount
For babies and younger toddlers, the Thule Yepp Next Mini is our top pick. This front-mounted doesn’t just look sleek; it also provides the perfect ride.
With its five-point harness and child-proof, quick-release buckle, you can be sure your little one is safe. The seat also features its own handlebars, giving your baby a place to hold on and keeping them from grabbing at yours.
On top of all that, the Thule Yepp Next Mini offers adjustable footrests and a shock-absorbing seat. It’s simple to mount, and the water-repellant materials make it very easy to clean. Overall, this seat has next to no negatives. It’s a little expensive, but we think it’s more than worth it.
7.Hamax Observer (Front Mount) – Best On A Budget
If the Thule Yepp Next Mini is a bit out of the budget, the Hamax Observer is your next best option for a front mount. It’s more affordable, and the quality is still top-notch.
The Hamax Observer is incredibly narrow for a child’s seat, allowing the adult rider to easily reach around it and steer. That makes this seat very popular amongst petite parents, who often have a hard time with traditional front mount options.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer handlebars and only has a three-point harness. It does have adjustable footrests, though, and offers very easy installation.
8.Do Little Universal Mid Mount Attachment – Best Mid Mount Seat
For older children and mountain bikes, a mid-mount attachment is ideal. We especially love the Do Little Universal Mid Mount Attachment. This seat sits directly in front of the rider’s saddle and is designed for children up to 66 lbs, between the ages of two and seven.
We probably wouldn’t take a two-year-old mountain biking, but this attachment has other functions. The mount also allows you to attach it to a regular cruiser or even an electric bike.
Still, it provides limited safety features. For example, it’s easy for small child to kick their feet between wheel spokes because there are no restraints or guards.
So, despite manufacturer claims, we can only recommend this with older children, who aren’t quite ready for trails on their own but still want to enjoy the experience. For them, the Do Little is perfect. It’s easy to install, stable, and provides a comfortable seat.
Buying a child bike seat seems simple at first glance, but it can quickly become complicated.
First, you have to determine the mounting style you want. Then you need to find a design that’s compatible with your bike. Finally, you’ll want to evaluate the many accessories and features that can come with a child’s bike seat.
If that sounds overwhelming, take a breath! We’ll walk you through the process step-by-step.
Child bike seats come in four styles:
- Front Mount Seats
- Rear Frame Mount Seats
- Rear Rack Mount Seats
- Mid-Mount Seats
Front mount seats are for babies and toddlers up to two years old, though many toddlers outgrow them a little sooner than that. They offer close proximity between you and your child and allow for better interaction. They also have less effect on the rider’s balance than other seat options.
Rear mount seats are better for slightly bigger children, up to forty pounds. A rear frame mount seat offers excellent suspension and the most comfortable ride. However, frame mounts aren’t compatible with all bikes.
If you already have a rack or your bike won’t accommodate a frame mount, a rear rack mounted seat is the next best thing. It provides less suspension, and you won’t be able to purchase a seat that reclines, but a rear rack mount works with most bikes that can’t accommodate frame mounts.
Mid-mounts are best for mountain biking and cater to older kids who don’t need a harness. The seat sits right in front of the rider’s saddles, allowing the adult rider to maintain their center of balance, even on aggressive trails.
Most manufacturers boast near-universal compatibility, and many designs offer the option of frame or rack mounts. However, it doesn’t take much review reading to realize that despite the manufacturers’ claims, child bike seats don’t always work well with specific racks or frames.
Here’s how to make sure the child bike seat you want to purchase will work with the bike in your garage.
Rear Frame Mount Compatibility
For a bike to be compatible with a rear frame mount, it needs:
- A round bike seat tube with 4-6″ of open space.
- Space between your seat or saddle and the bike frame
The bike seat tube is the vertical tube that sits beneath the seat and seat post. Many bikes feature studs for bottle mounts or wires in this area. If your bike has them, they will block most rear frame mounts.
The Hamax Caress is the exception. It features a creative mount that can get around any wires that would typically be in the way.
Rear frame mounts also require there to be some space between your saddle and the bike frame. If you ride with your seat in the lowest position or within one inch of the frame, attaching a rear frame mount will be challenging.
Rack Mount Compatibility
For a bike to be compatible with a rack mount, it needs:
- Two sets of eyelets, one in the rear axle and one in the rear triangle
Eyelets are small holes in your bike frame, usually covered with a black plastic piece. If you see one set, you can bet the other set is there, even if it’s harder to locate.
For rack-mount compatibility, you’ll also want to check your brakes. If you have disc brakes, you’ll need a disc brake-specific bike rack.
Front Mount Compatibility
For a bike to be front mount compatible, it needs:
- At least 18 – 20″ between the handlebars and the seat tube
- Quill stems, also called threaded headsets
Cruisers and hybrid bikes work best with front mounts. A road bike, which pitches the rider forward, probably won’t leave enough space for a front mount seat. Rather, your chest will hit the top of the seat, which isn’t comfortable or safe.
Quill stems or threaded headsets feature a lock nut that allows you to raise the handlebars, giving you more space to attach a front mount seat. If you have threadless or ahead headsets, you’ll probably need an adaptor bracket that may or may not be included when purchasing the seat.
Mid-mounts are easy to install and work with just about any mountain bike. If you’re considering a mid-mount seat, you probably won’t have to worry about compatibility.
Harness and Shoulder Strap Design
Child bike seats typically come with a three-point or five-point harness. The five-point is more secure with wiggly toddlers that tend to squirm out of simple shoulder straps.
The best five-point harnesses feature a high-positioned buckle that sits at the child’s torso rather than their crotch. Otherwise, it’s still pretty easy for toddlers to push the shoulder straps off.
Ideally, your child’s bike seat will feature height-adjustable shoulder straps as well. That way, the seat can grow with your child.
The best child bike seats have a helmet pocket that’s slightly recessed. That keeps your child’s head from being pushed forward in an uncomfortable position.
Bumpers along the edge of the seat are also a great feature. They’ll protect little fingers from getting smashed if you ride a little too close to a wall or other object.
Rear frame mounts offer the best suspension and will give your child the most comfortable ride. Rear frame mounts usually flex up to three inches. With rear rack mounts, you’ll get about a 1.5″ flex, which is better than nothing, but your child will still feel all the bumps.
Front rack mounts don’t offer any suspension, so it’s best to avoid speed bumps and curbs when you’re riding with your toddler or infant.
Rack frame mounts allow for seats that recline. If you can find this feature, we highly recommend it. Reclining seats will allow your child to ride in comfort even if they take a quick nap. The nap will probably still happen in seats that don’t recline, but their head will roll forward, straining their neck and shoulders.
Front Mount Features
With a front mount seat, there are two extra features you may want to seek out. Separate handlebars will help keep your child from grabbing at the handlebars on your bike, and an attachable windshield will keep the wind out of your child’s eyes.
Children’s bike seats don’t need safety certifications for sellers to market them in the US, but we don’t recommend purchasing a bike seat that doesn’t bear the ASTM’s certification.
An ASTM certification means the seat is safe for children weighing up to 40 pounds. You won’t find ASTM certifications on front-mounted or mid-mount seats, as strange as that sounds, but it should always be present on rear-mounted seats.
The Thule Ridealong seat is our top pick for several reasons. It provides almost all the features we want to see; a solid suspension system, adjustable footrests, and the ability to recline. It’s also a rear frame-mounted seat which is ideal for many bikes.
If you’re searching for a front mount seat, though, we love the Thule Yepp Next Mini. Its integrated handlebars are a game-changer. And for mid-mount needs, the Do Little Universal is a high-quality seat that older children will adore.
Really though, all of the seats on this list are great picks based on our countless hours of research, which you can support by shopping through our site. The links inside this article will take you straight to Amazon, where you can purchase your ideal child’s bike seat with the click of a button.