Teaching a child how to ride a balance bike

A balance bike is a great way to teach your child how to ride a bike. Unlike traditional bikes with training wheels, balance bikes teach children to balance and steer using their own body weight.

Balance bikes are designed for children to learn how to balance on two wheels before adding the complexity of pedals. This blog post will go through the key steps, what to expect, and potential challenges you may encounter when getting your child started on a balance bike.

Here are some key steps to take to get your child started on a balance bike.

Key Steps:

Introduce the concept of bikes as early as possible:

The environment you create is often helpful in teaching your child the respective skill. How often do you hear trades say their Mum or Dad introduced them to something?

Our approach has always been to introduce both children to the concept of cycling from the earliest age possible. This is typically 9 months when they can ride on the back of a bike. The children see Bike use as a normal, everyday activity and as a result, are excited to be part of the journey.

Because both children have been on a bike from an early age they want to be like their parents riding on a bike.

Choose the right size bike:

The first step in getting your child started on a balance bike is to choose the right size bike. Balance bikes come in different sizes for different age groups. Look for a bike that is appropriate for your child’s age and size. A bike that is too big or too small can be difficult for your child to control and manoeuvre.

Adjust the seat and handlebars

Once you have the right size bike, adjust the seat and handlebars to fit your child’s body. The seat should be adjusted so that your child can comfortably reach the ground with their feet. The handlebars should also be adjusted so that your child can comfortably reach them while sitting on the seat.

Let them explore on the bike in a safe, enclosed place:

Once the bike is the correct height for your child we recommend you let them get a feel for the bike in a safe, traffic-free environment. Whether this is your garden or a country park it’s entirely up to you.

We are currently teaching our little boy how to ride a balance bike and at this moment in time, we give him the bike and let him do what he wants on it. He’s currently walking around while standing up on the bike but with every step, he’s getting more comfortable and competent.

We let him do this on a quiet street or country park and progress is slow but he’s enjoying it. When we introduced our daughter to her balance bike she would ride up and down a small decking area in the garden. Even though this was a small space it taught her the basic skills and with everything in life repetition is the key. 

Teach your child how to balance:

The next step is to teach your child how to balance on the bike. Start by having your child stand over the bike with their feet on either side. Have them practice shifting their weight from one foot to the other to find their balance. Once they feel comfortable balancing, have them sit on the seat and practice balancing again.

This step can be tricky and age-dependent. Our boy is 2 years old and these type of instructions can be challenging given his understanding is less than that of an older child. This is very much age dependent but if you have older siblings they may be able to pick this up earlier.

Teach your child how to steer

Once your child is comfortable balancing, teach them how to steer the bike. Have them practice turning the handlebars left and right while sitting on the seat and balancing.

Let them have free reign:

This can be hard as a parent however you need to let them try without restrictions. This may include tangled legs, falling to one side and a few tears but you need to make your child realise it’s ok for things to not always go perfectly and falling over is ok.

This will give them the confidence to go faster and learn on their own knowledge. It will also provide confidence too. 

Practice, practice, practice:

The key to learning how to ride a balance bike is practice. Encourage your child to practice as much as possible. There are dedicated bike parks you can visit which have small ramps and circuits for your child to follow.

In our experience, the best place to go is a country park with well-designed, hard-standing pathways. This enables your child to practice in a safe environment without cars.

The outcome of learning to ride a balance bike is not only a sense of accomplishment for your child but also a great foundation for them to learn how to ride a pedal bike. Once your child has mastered the balance bike, they will be able to easily transition to a pedal bike without having to go through the traditional training wheels phase.

They will be confident in their ability to balance, steer and control their speed. We actually found in our experience that stabilisers (training wheels) were restrictive for our daughter once she had experienced the balance bike and as a result found the transition from balance bike straight to pedals much easier. Every child is different however Balance Bikes provide a wonderful base for learning how to ride. 

In conclusion, getting your child started on a balance bike is a great way to introduce them to the world of cycling. It’s important to choose the right size bike, start with the basics and work your way up, and be patient and encouraging. With time and practice, your child will be able to master the balance bike and transition to a pedal bike with ease.

Remember to always wear helmets and practice in safe areas. Happy cycling!

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a balance bike?

A balance bike is a small bicycle without pedals that allows children to learn balance and steering before introducing pedalling.

How old should a child be to start using a balance bike?

It is recommended that children start using a balance bike as early as 18 months old. It is important to ensure that the child is able to walk and has enough physical coordination to control the bike.

What are the benefits of using a balance bike over a traditional tricycle or stabilisers?

Balance bikes help children develop balance and coordination more effectively, as they are able to learn at their own pace and build confidence before introducing pedalling. They also make the transition to a traditional bicycle easier.

Do balance bikes have pedals?

No, balance bikes do not have pedals. Children use their feet to push themselves along the ground and balance on the bike.

Can a balance bike be converted to a pedal bike?

 Some balance bikes can be converted to a pedal bike by adding pedals and a chain. However, it’s generally better to purchase a separate pedal bike once your child is ready for one.

How long does it take for a child to learn how to ride a balance bike?

The amount of time it takes for a child to learn how to ride a balance bike can vary. Some children may pick it up quickly, while others may take longer. The key is to be patient and encourage your child to practice as much as possible.

Are balance bikes safe for children to ride?

Yes, balance bikes are considered safe for children to ride. They have a low centre of gravity and a lightweight design, which makes them easy for children to control and manoeuvre. As with any bike riding, it’s important to wear a helmet and supervise children while they are riding.

Can balance bikes be used by children with special needs?

Yes, balance bikes can be beneficial for children with special needs. They can help with gross motor development and provide a fun and inclusive way for children to learn how to ride a bike.

What is the weight limit for a balance bike?

The weight limit for a balance bike can vary depending on the specific model. It is important to check the manufacturer’s specifications before purchasing.

Are balance bikes adjustable?

Many balance bikes are adjustable in terms of seat and handlebar height, allowing them to grow with your child.

How do I teach my child to ride a balance bike?

The best way to teach your child to ride a balance bike is through play and encouragement. Start by having your child walk the bike, then progress to gliding, and finally, to pedalling. Please read the rest of our article above for more information.

Are balance bikes suitable for children with disabilities?

Yes, balance bikes can be suitable for children with disabilities. It is important to consult with your doctor first to ensure the child is able to safely use the balance bike.

Can balance bikes be used in wet or snowy conditions?

Balance bikes can be used in wet or snowy conditions, but it is important to ensure that the child is dressed appropriately and that the surface is safe to ride on.

How do I know when my child is ready to move on from a balance bike to a traditional bicycle?

Your child is ready to move on from a balance bike to a traditional bicycle when they are able to balance and steer the balance bike with ease and confidence.


Last Updated on February 3, 2023 by Ryan

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