For a toddler, getting a bike for a birthday gift is pretty much the teenage equivalent of scoring a new car. Also like a car, if you find yourself buying one for your little one, you’ll find yourself wondering which set of wheels is best for her as she grows. Baby probably isn’t quite ready for the “mountain bike or road bike” debate yet, but there are also different pre-bike options to consider.
Essentially a three-wheeled bicycle, this toy vehicle offers the feeling of riding a bike, but with more balance and a lower risk of falling down. With a tricycle, toddlers are able to practice pedaling, and are also able to feel secure without needing added support from an adult. Being able to pedal a toy vehicle on her own will build Baby’s confidence, and as a parent, you’ll have the security of knowing there’s a lesser risk of falls as she works out the mechanics of this “pedaling” thing.
Also known as “balance bikes,” push-bikes are two-wheeled vehicles without pedals. Push-bikes work to teach children to balance on two wheels, with the ultimate goal of teaching them to transition to a regular bike without the assistance of training wheels. Because of their two-wheel make-up, push-bikes ride more like a regular bike, and are less likely to get stuck on uneven surfaces.
Which is right for my child?
There is no definitive answer – both tricycles and push-bikes have their own advantages. Tricycles teach children about self-propelled motion, and help them learn that pedaling will take them from one location to another. Push-bikes, on the other hand, focus more on helping young children learn to push off and steer to go in a particular direction, and help them get a sense for the type of balance bike-riding requires. Both will have a learning curve, and one isn’t necessarily easier or more fun than the other.
Things to remember
Pedaling and balancing may seem intuitive for adults, who have been doing both for a long time. For toddlers, however, both are new activities that require work and time before they can master them. Whether you decide on a tricycle or a push-bike (or even both!), be sure Baby is in proper protective gear and in a safe place before letting her venture off on her new wheels. Help her learn, keep her safe, and above all – have fun!