If you haven’t read the first part of this discussion on bikes, be sure to check it out here. Otherwise, get ready to be wowed with the latest and greatest invention to get kids riding bikes at an earlier age and with greater ease – the balance bike!! It’s exactly what it sounds like ~ a bicycle for little ones without pedals so they balance on it as they kick off the ground with their feet. So simple and so genius. Times like these I want to dislike the product for the sole reason that I didn’t invent it first. But instead, I’ll embrace it and my kids will benefit. Actually, just Ava did. We were still in denial it was a good thing when Eli first started learning.
What’s the thing you hear most often from other adults when raising your own kids?? It’s gotta be, “We didn’t have xyz in my day and we survived just fine.” Sure enough, when we looked at a bike for Eli the first time, we fell into that same mindset and thought, “We didn’t have balance bikes when we were little and we still learned to ride a bike.” Poor Eli. So sorry buddy. His first bike at age 2 1/2 was a little thing with training wheels that I found at a consignment sale for $35. It was fine for short walks around the neighborhood, but he was completely reliant on the training wheels and never attempted to balance himself. It wasn’t until he was 5 and saw his cousin riding a bike without training wheels that he wanted to try without them, and now even at 6, although he does ride a 2-wheel bike, he is still a little fearful of it and is quick to put his feet down if he even feels a slight wobble.
So, this balance bike thing happened when we bought Eli a new bike for Easter last year and knew that Ava at 2 1/2 years would also want the same gift as big brother. We went to the bike shop Roll because we wanted to get Eli a good quality bike to really start riding, and found out they have a “trade up” program for kids bikes – any kids bike you purchase up to their first adult bike you can bring back within 2 years and get 50% of the original cost back to use towards the next bike. This included balance bikes! We decided to give it a try for Ava and bam! She was balancing like a pro within a couple weeks of first trying it out. No joke! Within a couple months, she was gliding without her feet touching the ground more than she was using her feet, and we were jogging to keep up with her.
We traded Ava’s balance bike in at Easter of this year for a larger bike with pedals, and she was so ready and confident to take off on it. Although she didn’t want training wheels on her new bike, and we knew she didn’t need them, we had to put them on because her legs weren’t quite long enough to reach the ground for starting and stopping her bike. I’m sure by next Easter, she will be tall enough to get those training wheels off and ride like the wind 🙂
Take away message: Forget the fact that you didn’t have a balance bike to learn on and get your kids one!