[Ad] We’ve been looking into the best ways to teach our daughter how to ride a bike, including the best starter balance bike, age to get started, and tips to get riding independently. Today I’m sharing the tips we’ve picked up – as well as some brilliant plasters for kids, perfect for dealing with the inevitable cuts and scrapes cycling adventures bring!

First we had lockdown, and now it’s the summer holidays – both perfect opportunities to help teach your child how to ride a bike, and our family has been no exception. The initial question we came up against for project ‘get riding’ was the best option for a beginner. My husband’s research quickly told us which way to go, so today I’m sharing that knowledge with you…

Why a Balance Bike is the Best Beginner Bike

Very simply, choosing this option will teach your child how to balance, and build up the muscles required to do so. With the confidence that comes from mastering balance, everything else they need to ride independently will quickly fall into place.

Boy on Balance Bike

Balance Bike – Age to Begin

I wish we’d started with ours earlier, they just didn’t show much of an interest and we didn’t push it. I now see this was a mistake, because they can start as early as 18 months, which is a huge head start!

After a balance bike children are usually ready to progress to a proper bike at around the age of four. 

Buying the Right Balance Bike

There are a few rules of thumb for making a purchase:

  1. Size matters. Your little one should be able to stand over the frame with both feet planted firmly on the floor.
  2. The lighter the better. Your child should be able to stand the bike up from the floor independently.
  3. Brakes are probably not necessary at this stage. Little hands and undeveloped coordination mean even if the bike has brakes, they are unlikely to be used anyway.

Beyond this, you may wish to consider material (metal/plastic/wood), cost, and adjustability of the seat and handlebars for maximum longevity.

4. Buy a helmet and knee and elbow pads!

Mum Fastening Child's Helmet
Generic stock image of a mum fastening her daughter’s helmet, since this is off the cards for us right now (keep reading).

Adventure Fearlessly, aka Dealing With Inevitable Cuts and Scrapes

Failing to prepare, as they say, is preparing to fail. But, while it’s preferable to avoid scrapes altogether, it’s just not reality…

Tips to help your child ride a bike confidently and independently, including the best option for a first purchase, and what age to get started on a balance bike. #blancebike #bikeriding #learntocycle #cyclingforkids #cyclingtips #cyclingtipsforkids

Kids (specifically my kids) can be really very awkward and stubborn and, in my book, while a helmet is non-negotiable, if our nearly six year old is determined not to wear her knee and elbow pads, she’s cognizant enough to understand consequences…

Edit: since I began to write this post, my clever little girl – the very same one mentioned above – did something silly when I wasn’t watching and broke her arm. Both bones, about as bad as it could be and resulting in surgery, with more to follow. I sound like I’m making light, but it’s been an ordeal.

Top tip… Maybe don’t assume your kids understand consequences: wear the pads.

Fun Novelty Plasters For Kids!

For those inescapable little mishaps, we’ve teamed up with Safe and Sound Health who have a fab new range of hypoallergenic Kids Fun Plasters, which are perfect for delicate skin, and feature designs our girls are totally in love with.

Plasters For Kids - Safe and Sound Range
The fun Safe and Sound range of plasters for kids.

As well as the fun new plasters, Safe and Sound also sent us their antiseptic wound spray, which will be perfect for on-the-go sterilising of cuts and scrapes.

Rocket Plaster For Kids
Safe and Sound plaster featuring a rocket design.

I wouldn’t actually be surprised if we come up against a few more refusals to wear the graze-saving knee and elbow pads, with the prize being one of these cool plasters for kids. Yes, our daughter is that contrary.

She’s also been a total superhero this week:

Unicorn Plaster

What If My Child Has a Pedal Bike Already, and I Don’t Want to Buy a Balance Bike Too?

For anyone thinking this is an unlikely scenario because of course parents would do their research first – this actually happened to us! We were fortunate to be gifted an almost brand new bike last year, which was far too big for our eldest daughter at the time. It was put away, and part way through lockdown we decided we should get it out.

If your child is in the same situation, you can take the pedals off if you wish.

Bear in mind that the bike is going to be far heavier than the typical balance bike, which will make handling it more unwieldy and harder work. But, learning to balance is that beneficial it may be worth trying. It seemed to be working well for our daughter, before this enforced hiatus.

Dad Helping Daughter Learn to Ride a Bike
Another generic stock photo of a dad helping his daughter learn to ride her pedal bike.

Tips For Transitioning to a Pedal Bike

Your child will probably let you know when the time is right. Here are things to watch for:

  1. They’ve mastered the balance bike,;
  2. Hand-eye coordination is good, and they’re developmentally ready;
  3. They’re asking to upgrade to a pedal bike!

Once you take the plunge and your child starts using a pedal bike, they’ll usually pick it up fairly quickly if they’ve already been using a balance bike. That said, there’s no harm to allowing them to continue using both bikes alongside each other until they master pedalling while balancing and steering.

And, for those times they misjudge, a novelty plaster can be the difference that encourages and motivates them to keep going. Pixie has even covered her cast in them!

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[Ad] Let’s face it, if there’s a negative to be found when it comes to novelty kids plasters, it’s that you get through them at a rate of knots! 🙈 Well, that’s been the least of my worries this past week. And frankly, the super cute range from @safeandsound_health have saved my bacon this week. 😍 When they contacted me about a collaboration, my intention was to talk about Pixie learning to ride her bike, and how the fun designs of their gentle hypoallergenic plasters made it that little bit easier when dealing with inevitable cuts and scrapes. …And then this happened. 😩 So, over on the blog I’ve still written our top tips for teaching your child to ride independently and #adventurefearlessly. 💪 But, for transparency, it’s out of the window for us right now. These fab plasters *are* ideal for grazed knees; thankfully, an excellent (and probably unintended) bonus is that they’re also perfect for decorating casts. ❤️ Which I’m sure you’ll agree is of VITAL import for my little superhero (swipe).

A post shared by Kate | The Less-Refined Mind (@lessrefinedmind) on

An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is a huge advocate of personal growth, focusing on journaling to increase positivity and facilitate mindful motherhood. With a wealth of experience in breastfeeding and CMPA, Kate is also an expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.

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