How to encourage a toddler to ride balance bike?

by DaveE128   August 8, 2014  

So... my eldest kid, a 2 1/4-year-old, is being a bit funny about learning to ride his balance bike, and wondered if anyone has any suggestions?

The first time he rode it, he loved it.

However, since then, pretty much every time he has sat on it, he immediately changes his mind and wants to stop. The most he ever does is one lap round the (pretty small!) garden. Then he has had enough.

I don't want to be a pushy parent, but I'm sure he'll love it when he gets it, and really hope he'll enjoy cycling later as I'm a strong believer that it's good for you in so many ways.

Weird things are that sometimes he asks to ride it (soon changes his mind once on though), he loves going out on the back of our bikes in the child seat (gets quite excited about it even), and strangest of all, he is currently obsessed with watching toddlers on balance bikes on youtube!

When he started walking, for ages, he would carefully sit down as soon as you let go of his hand even though he seemed perfectly able to walk unaided, and it wasn't until we tried giving him a football to hold that he forgot that he was walking by himself and did it unaided with absolutely no falling over. So, I suspect it's an excessive caution thing (it seems to run in the family!) but I don't want him to force him to do something he doesn't want to.

The seat height seems fine as far as I can tell - he can easily reach the floor.

Any ideas?

I wondered about putting a bell on the handlebar - it might a source of helpful disctraction?! Thinking

I seem to recall my siblings had to bribe me with sweets to learn to ride a bike when I was about 5 lol.

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We started our little girl on her balance bike at about the same age. She liked it but didn't really ride it. I guess she didn't have the confidence/ability to really ride it properly. I think she was just too young to balance/push/steer properly.

We tried her on it every now an then and eventually at about 3yr she just got it. Now at 3 1/2 she rides it a lot and is really confident. Balance, steering, pushing all fell into place.

My advice it to not push it. Try him on it every now and again. Have some patience and he'll get there.

posted by qwerky [185 posts]
8th August 2014 - 14:23


Thanks, yeah, that's pretty much what I've been trying to do so will stick with that. Good to know others have had similarly slow starts with a good outcome, anyway.

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posted by DaveE128 [238 posts]
8th August 2014 - 14:45

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I have two kids. Both teenagers now. One liked cycling and is now racing and doing Tri. The other one is equally sporty but isn't interested in cycling unless he has to.

Just don't worry about it. Maybe the kids not thinking its fun because they can feel that you're anxious about it. Maybe (I might be wrong but here goes) you might be being a bit pushy about the bike. - Just play with the stuff he wants to play with and have fun. If he can't ride a proper bike by the time he's 10 then you may have something to worry about.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [903 posts]
8th August 2014 - 15:31

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Don't fret, it will come.

Seeing other kids ripping around on theirs usually helps. He knows it's fun but probably just needs to feel ready in his own time.

Maybe he should get out more instead of surfing the internet Wink

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posted by Simon E [2415 posts]
8th August 2014 - 17:04

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Both my girls got balance bikes on their second birthday, but took a few weeks to get into them. Having other kids in the street on them helped, I think. Now they both have 'big girl' bikes (in fact on their second pedal bikes), and are both very confident.

Balance bikes are such a good way of learning. Way better than the stabilisers that I learnt with.

“Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling.” James E Starrs

posted by truffy [649 posts]
8th August 2014 - 17:24

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I would just leave the bike in the front room, their inquisitive mind will pull them to try, do not push, otherwise it will take longer. They will try when ready Smile

Been cycling for too many years, but just back in a Specialized Roubaix Disc saddle after a long 6yr stint on a Hybrid, lord that was a slow ride Smile

posted by Jahmoo [23 posts]
8th August 2014 - 18:51

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Mine was much more interested when we were out, on a path around the park or similar, than riding around the garden - may be worth a try?

posted by danmitch [9 posts]
8th August 2014 - 21:53


Put it out of reach then stand pointing at it going "Wow! What a cool balance bike!!!!" Laughing

We just bought one for our 17month old son (he loves the Strider Cup vids on YouTube too) and he loves it when we push him around on it whilst holding the bars with him but doesn't like it when he tries himself and it falls over.
I'm not expecting him to be whizzing around anytime soon though and if he's doing it this time next year then all well and good.

Not sure if YouTube works on here:

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posted by Crosshair [13 posts]
8th August 2014 - 23:08

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Lol Crosshair, sounds like a good way to harness natural human perversity - we always want what we can't have! And thanks for the youtube link - think that's one he hasn't seen, so I'll keep that handy for next time I feel like granting a "little bikes video please" request!

Danmitch, yeah, I was thinking that might be worth a try - will do that when I feel like carting the bike all the way to the park on my shoulder!

And don't worry, i'm not constantly badgering him about it and he isn't spending all day with his head in a screen (or even indoors for that matter)!

Hopefully he'll just decide he wants to ride it some time...

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posted by DaveE128 [238 posts]
8th August 2014 - 23:37

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