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Parenting

Is Your Child Ready for a Tricycle or Bicycle?

2:00

Whether it’s a birthday or the holidays, sooner or later you’re going to start thinking about either a tricycle or bicycle for your little one. Despite some potential hazards, riding bikes and trikes is a fundamental part of childhood.

At what age is a child typically ready for a trike? Most children are able to handle one around 3 years old.

You want to look for a trike that is low to the ground and has big wheels. These are less likely to tip over. You also want to have your child try on several bicycle helmets to make sure it fits properly. 

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, tricycles should only be used in protected places. Because they are so low to the ground, they are difficult for motorists to see on a street or in a driveway. Drivers need to be particularly vigilant in checking to see whether a youngster is anywhere near the car before pulling out of a driveway. Without a backup camera, you won’t see a small child on a tricycle when backing out.

Once your little one masters a tricycle, when is it safe to move on to a 2-wheeler? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children should be at least 5 years old or older before learning to ride a bicycle. One of the most important tips for buying a bicycle for your child is to purchase the correct size. The wrong size bike can cause your child to lose control be injured.

While it may be fun to surprise your little one with a bike, he or she really needs to try it out first to help choose the correct size. Sometimes parents are tempted to buy one that their child can grow into – don’t do it. A bike that is too large is hard to maneuver and especially dangerous for a first time bike owner.

How do you know how to find the right size? The AAP offers these tips on how to test any style bike for the proper fit:

  • Sitting on the seat with hands on the handlebar, your child must be able to place the balls of both feet on the ground.
  • Straddling the center bar, your child should be able to stand with both feet flat on the ground with about a 1-inch clearance between the crotch and the bar.
  • When buying a bike with hand brakes for an older child, make sure that the child can comfortably grasp the brakes and apply sufficient pressure to stop the bike.

Also, think about your child’s coordination skills. You can consider coaster brakes until your child is older and more experienced.​

Many of today’s adults didn’t grow up with helmets, but they have proven exceptionally valuable in preventing serious brain injury from falls. Make sure your child has a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)-approved helmet.

Let’s face it; tricycles and bicycles are one of a child’s first steps towards independence. Once balance and braking are mastered, the freedom of moving through space on your own is intoxicating. They’re also a great way for families to exercise and spend some quality time together outside.

Story sources: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Choosing-the-Right-Size-Bicycle.aspx

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Ready-For-A-Tricycle.aspx

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