I don’t know about your area, but in Hungary it seems like the hard and rigid plastic child seats are the most commonly used, accepted and probably required way to transport a small child on the back of a bike.
In the U.S. Cheryl and I never saw such a seat and even though we spent a number of years in the biker friendly Seattle Metro, parents would only carry their toddler age children in a pull-behind sleek trailer, often with a small red triangular warning flag on rod attached to it, or not take them at all.
In my childhood’s Romania it was quite common to carry kindergarten age children, that already had good sense of balance and grip, on a homemade seat mounted on the horizontal frame bar of a men’s bike, between the paddler’s seat and the handle bar. Ours you could even position in horizontal setting when in use, or turn it vertical, when not.
But it’s none of these that I would like to advocate here for – even if I am breaking rules and infringing law. Why? Because it makes a lot of (common) sense.
Turn your Mei Tai type carrier to back carrying position, help your child into it or have your trip companion do it for you, secure all the straps, get on your bike saddle and you are good to go.
Your child will be able to comfortably look out to right and left, peek over your shoulders or slightly turn back. All the while being attached to you, not to a stiff plastic mold or directly to the mechanical, so lifeless structure of the bike.
The child carried this way will be able to feel all your reactions directly and immediately, it can grab on to you when intimidated by (e.g.) something passing by, a louder noise. Similarly, you can share the joys of the ride more intimately and audibly, too.
When you ride over something uneven, you can lift yourself off the seat, giving more cushion to the shaky motion as opposed to a stiff plastic child seat, probably even better one than the suspension of a trailer, simply using the elasticity of your own joints.
In the case of a real danger when you have splits of seconds for decision making and out of an innate reflex, a lifesaving instinct, you want to jump off the bike, the child in the Mei Tai will still be on you, not on a falling bike.
Be prepared for the child’s independent motions now taking place on your back, but this is well controllable according to our experience, by just flexibly tightening or loosening your grip on the handle bar as needed and providing a solid surface for that play with your entire body.
Yes, this way of carrying a toddler does not allow for helmet on the child – butt allows for its head to breath, its hair to be blown in the air. Our daughter really enjoys this freedom.
Now get on the bike and try this out for yourself, if you haven’t yet! You’ll both like it.
Let us know how it felt.