originally written for and published on Wolf+Friends
When kids are younger or just learning to manage the speed that comes with wheeled toys, tricycles are best to work on basic skills like safety, steering, and endurance. From Big Wheels-style to upright Radio Flyer trikes, there are tricycles that stay low to the ground for more reassurance or sit more upright to challenge your child’s balance and core strength. Choose a tricycle that matches their size, confidence, and skills because at this stage of riding you want to build on positive experiences.
Beyond the traditional bicycle with training wheels, there are balance bikes that some feel is a better transition from tricycle to bicycle. No matter what your preference, choose a bicycle that is on the smaller side if your child struggles with balance or core strength. They will find it easier to steer, control, and feel reassured if their feet are closer to reaching the ground. If your child is not yet ready to graduate from training wheels, consider a tag-along bicycle that attaches to the back of an adult bicycle. This will allow your little one to benefit from the adult doing much of the legwork and balancing while they enjoy a longer bike ride, get used to weight shifting with turns, and gain confidence without training wheels.
As your child builds their endurance with bicycle riding, try introducing a scooter. There are scooter options that allow your child more stability with three wheels and a wider base of support than your typical two-wheeled razor scooter. Scooters are a great way to work on improving coordination, as one side of their body is doing something different than the other! When your child gets good enough at controlling the scooter, pushing off one leg, and working the rear braking system, you can transition them to a two-wheeled scooter with more safety confidence.
For older kids who need more stability, adapted bicycles or adult size tricycles are going to be what keeps them moving! Some tricycles offer more supported seating as well as the wider base of support that the three wheels allow for.
No matter what you choose to get your kids wheeling around, know that these gross motor toys all provide opportunities for movement and challenge your child’s balance and coordination skills in a fun way! (But don't forget a helmet!)