What’s the Deal with Balance Bikes?

bike
Image via Strider Bikes

Earlier this spring I was shopping for a tricycle with my son when I noticed that many of the toddler bikes in the store didn't look quite like I remember them from my own childhood. Though there were still traditional three-wheeled tricycles available there were also a number of toddler sized bikes that had two wheels and no pedals: balance bikes. I was curious about why balance bikes were becoming popular, so I decided to do a little research.

Here's what I found out:

bike
Image via Flickr/ horlor.tw

Your little one might be able to learn to use them more quickly than a traditional toddler bike

Many people say that kids can learn to ride balance bikes more quickly than traditional toddler tricycles because they learn how to stay upright and steer before they have to learn to pedal. Usually, kids make balance bikes move forward by running with their feet and then lifting them up to glide and steer, which does seem easier than learning to pedal and steer at the same time.

{ MORE: Should You Enroll Your Toddler in Athletics? }

Bike
Image via Flickr/ jdtornow

They might also switch over to a traditional two-wheeler more quickly

Kids who learn to ride a balance bike first might also make the transition to a traditional two-wheeler faster than their tricycle riding peers. Balance bike proponents say that when a child learns to ride using a three-wheeled bike or with training wheels, they can become over-reliant on the balance they provide and have a hard time transitioning. Once they become reliant on training wheels kids might also feel more nervous about transitioning.

bike bicycle boy toddler
Image via Flickr/ Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious

Getting kids on a bike can help them learn to love the outdoors

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Kids who learn to ride balance bikes might also learn to value exercise and outside time more than kids without bikes. When a child learns a new skill and has fun they're more likely to want to continue doing what they're doing. By providing your child with an opportunity for learning and fun, you might just be setting them up to love being active and outdoors for the rest of their lives!

I still haven't decided what my son will be riding this summer, but I'm glad I took the time to learn about my options!

{ MORE: When Will My Child Make Friends? }

So, is a balance bike for you?

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What do you think?

What’s the Deal with Balance Bikes?

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More

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