You can get into family cycling activities even with young children as there is a large range of bike seats and trailers available for babies and toddlers. Cycling outings are a great way to make your child feel included in activities with you and each of you’ll benefit from the extra cardio workout of cycling with a passenger – especially as they grow bigger and heavier!
Benefits of family cycling
Developing a love of cycling in your child can have all sorts of benefits. It encourages you to do something together in the fresh air that's low cost and fun. The benefits include a closer bond with your toddler from the shared activity, improved fitness, reduced stress and improved mental and emotional wellbeing, plus the knowledge that you’ve introduced a healthy activity to your child that can last a lifetime.
Choices for going solo
As your child grows older, they can progress to using a ‘tag-along’ bike, or you can buy them their own tricycle, training wheels or balance bike. There’s no ‘best’ choice out of all these options – it’s really down to personal choice.
Balance bikes are very popular and can be ridden by most toddlers, depending on their stage of development. These bikes are small, two-wheeled bikes with no pedals, so that all kids need to do on them is balance and steer. They can teach children from about 18 months old to balance on two wheels. Many children who’ve learned on them bypass training wheels, going straight from a balance bike to a two-wheeled bike with pedals and brakes. While balance bikes are a great first step towards ‘big bikes’, they can make very young children very mobile. Safety considerations and continual supervision is crucial.
Tricycles and training wheels
Tricycles are a popular choice, and many toddlers can learn to use pedals on tricycles, with most being able to ride a tricycle well by about the age of three. With balance bikes being available these days, not all children ride two-wheeled bikes with training wheels, but for many parents they are a tried and true option. If your child does learn to ride with training wheels, the sense of achievement they’ll feel the first time they cycle without them will be hard to beat!
Safety is paramount
Cycling can be dangerous, but there are many steps and precautions you can take to reduce risk and minimise injuries. You need to make sure the equipment is appropriate for your child and is mechanically sound and that proper safety equipment is used at all times. Helmets are compulsory for bikes and scooters and other protective gear, like wrist guards and knee pads, is strongly recommended.