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Why We Bought a Balance Bike for Our Granddaughter

When you see the pictures on this post you'll wonder where in the world we live that it's so green!  These pictures were taken back in the summer or early fall, so that explains the lack of snow.  It also shows how long a lag there can be between a plan for a post and actually making it happen!

Our granddaughter Tera's birthday was back in August.  We were trying to think of the perfect gift to get her when Suzanne mentioned that Tera's big sister would be getting a new bike through a donation to the foster system.  She knew that could cause some problems, so I immediately knew what to get her for her birthday!

I decided I needed to do some research on a good bike to get for a little girl turning three.  I assumed my choice would be between a bike with training wheels or a tricycle.  I googled the above and what should pop up in my feed but something called a balance bike, also often called a strider or glider bike.  I had never heard of such a thing and when I started researching farther, I thought they looked pretty funny.  In brief, they are a small bike with no pedals.

As I researched I discovered that the child rides the bike and pushes with their feet.  As they gain more confidence, they lift their feet and glide, learning to balance themselves.  Some balance bikes have handbrakes, but on most the child just stops themselves by putting down their feet. After watching several videos on how this type of bike is used, I was sold. The price range is from $40.00 to $180.00.  I settled one of the cheaper ones, a Radio Flyer Glide bike.  The bike did require some assembly, but it wasn't difficult.

I think the big advantage to this type of bike is that it minimizes everything that a child has to learn at once.  On a normal bike, they have to learn to balance and pedal and steer all at the same time.  That's more than most three-year olds are able to do.  With a balance bike, all they have to do is learn to balance, which comes naturally as they become more used to the bike.  When their physical coordination all comes together, they can graduate right to a pedal bike.  The only thing they'll need to add in is how to pedal.  No training wheels are ever necessary.  The seat is also adjustable so whether you have a petite child or a tall child, the bike should work for them.  It's also generally safer when the child takes a tumble as they can usually anticipate the fall and catch themselves.

This bike works great with Tera's personality.  She loves to observe and watch until she's comfortable, then she'll try it.  Once she gets the hang of something, there's no stopping her.  She wasn't too sure about the bike at first, but after showing her a video of other children riding one, she went right out and tried it.  She's gotten better and better at it and is quite the champ now.

And here's a video of her riding.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a good shot of her lifting her feet off, but it gives you a good idea of how a child propels the bike.

If you're looking for a bike for a small child, I would definitely recommend a balance bike!

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