My friend from NJ has two children that learned how to ride bikes at very young ages. Her younger one, the daughter, was riding around like a pro when she was just three, peddling madly to keep up with her big brother. They had one of those expensive, wooden balance bikes, but when I asked my friend if she thought that I should get one of those to help Caleb learn how to ride a bike, she just laughed and said, “No you should get a cheap little one from the thrift store and take off the peddles.”
Well, it took me a while to take her advice. I wasn’t thrilled about the road conditions in our neighborhood. Plus only the cross streets are anything resembling flat. Even adults can’t ride a bike up our street. And I wanted to bring my brothers’ old bike from NJ rather than buy a new one. But this summer, I figured it was about time. I found a little bike at the thrift store and brought it home.
Still, I figured he was older, and maybe I could just push him and he would pedal and get the hang of it. But it didn’t really work and he wasn’t interested in doing it very much. It was hard.
So finally I took off the pedals. The one nice thing about where I live is that there are lots of slopes to learn how to coast and balance. In less than 2 weeks, we put the pedals back on, and he could ride! He wasn’t perfect of course, and sometimes he needed help getting started, but he could pedal and stay up.
Now I am totally sold on balance bikes. I think it is an excellent way to learn how to ride a bike. It’s not very hard, all you have to do is walk essentially, and coasting is natural, so you automatically learn how to balance without even trying. I’ve never been a fan of training wheels, ever since I had some on my own bike. I felt they were harder to balance on because there was all that wobbling back and forth from side to side.
So whether you buy a wooden one, or a little bike that you remove the peddles from, you should give balance bikes a try for your little one.