Earlier this week someone in my moms group asked this question. She had purchased a trike for one of her kids and they had never really taken to it. She wanted to know if a balance bikes are worth the hype. It was insightful to see all of the different responses from the fellow moms and I thought about how we should share out experience and maybe I can answer that question for you. So before I get into the details of our experience let me give you a little background on the balance bike concept.
The idea of the allowing the child to learn to have proper posture, balance and seating position are all key to learning how to ride a pedal bike further down the road. However, learning all of those skills at the same time as coordination of pedaling is challenging for younger kids, which is where the balance bike comes in. On a balance bike the child learns to put their weight on the seat of the bike, they learn how to balance their whole body while moving and they have a lot of fun doing it all.
When John was 18 months old he was gifted a balance bike for Christmas from one of his grandparents. He immediately picked it up and started walking it about the house while straddling it. He was figuring it out nad getting comfortable at his own pace. As he walked the bike more he started to sit back on the seat and placing his weight there. Before we knew it he was racing up and down the street. He continued on his balance bike (we have a Strider) until the Christmas before he turned 4. He received a pedal bike and was excited to get going. Sadly our first attempt on the new bike we crashed, and I ended up breaking my hand! He was hesitant to get back on and try again so we stuck with our balance bike and had fun for a few more months. Once we tried the pedal bike again we were up and going after a few trys.
So to answer the question are balance bikes worth the hype? Absolutely! We love ours and it’s been passed down to little sister who of course had to give it a small makeover to make it a bit more girly for her.
There are a few things I recommend when starting on a balance bike. Go with a brand you know and trust. There are tons of balance bikes out there but they don’t all have the same feel and structure as a traditional pedal bike. We love Strider bikes and it’s my go to recommendation when asked.
Another essential when starting on a balance bike is proper protective gear. I know this sounds crazy and there are a few parents out there thinking, I never wore a helmet when I was a kid. Well ‘s important and I’m a stickler for protective wear. Toddler helmets can be harder to find so expect to pay a little more for the smaller sizes. I’ve seen too many kids come into the doctor’s office with head injuries from falling on bikes and scooters. A proper fitting helmet is super important. Try them on or measure your kiddos head before ordering one. We race at the local BMX track so my kids wear full face helmets, but I would totally recommend that to any parent.
Protective clothing: Since your kids don’t want to put of special clothing to ride their bike to a friends, I do encourage elbow and knee pads when first starting. There are bound to be a few bumps and scrapes. Last but not least, get those kids some gloves! If they fall they will try to catch themself and it will almost always result in scraped up palms.