by Michelle LaRowe
Editor in Chief
As a mom to a soon to be three-year-old, teaching him to ride a bike is next up on the agenda. But, like with many things in the parenting world, how you teach a child to ride a bike is changing. More and more parents are opting to start their children off on a balance bike instead of a traditional bicycle with training wheels. Being a mom who likes to be in the know, I decided to give the balance bike a try too, so I reached out to my friends at Joovy to learn more about the growing trend of balance bikes and asked them to send over their new balance bike, the Bicycoo, for me to review. Here’s what Pam had to say, and you can scroll down to the bottom to see my thoughts on the Joovy Bicycoo.
eNannySource: What’s all the rage about balance bikes?
Pam: Balance bikes are the coolest way to teach a child to ride a bike. Balance bikes are very popular in Europe and catching on fast here in the States. The idea is simple – on a balance bike your child learns to balance first. Master that and then when you put him on a ‘real’ bike all he needs to do is learn to pedal.
eNannySource: How do balance bikes help kids learn to ride?
Pam: As soon as your child is big enough to straddle the balance bike, he is ready to ride. The idea is to get him comfortable with the feel of the bike and learn to balance first before taking on pedaling. The beauty of the balance bike is that you isolate the experience down to one task initially. Children will start out slow and really just walk with the bike between their legs. As they get more comfortable, they’ll go faster and eventually sit on the little seat and pick their feet up. They will feel tremendous confidence in mastering balancing. Parents are amazed when they put the child on a “big kid bike” after learning how to “ride” on a balance bike. Because the child already understands the balancing part, he gets on the “big kid bike” and all he has to learn to do is pedal. We’ve seen very young children on “big kid bikes” after learning first on a balance bike.
eNannySource: So, balance bike or training wheels? Why? Balance bike for sure is the best way to teach your child to ride a bike. To introduce training wheels and then turn around and take them away is a negative learning experience. Training wheels are counter intuitive and do not teach a child to balance. For example, if the child is on the bike with training wheels and they turn, the child may lean towards the outside to take advantage of the support of the training wheel rather than balancing into the turn. Teaching a child to ride with a balance bike allows the child to focus on balancing first, mastering that before moving on to learning to pedal.
eNannySource: What made Joovy develop their own balance bike, the Bicycoo?
Pam: Joovy is all about active families. We love bringing product to market to get kids active and keep families involved with fitness and a healthy lifestyle.
eNannySource: What else should people know about Joovy?
Pam: As a family company, our goal is to take care of our customers as if they are family members too. We consider parenting the most important job on the planet, and therefore we want our products to be reliable and helpful in doing this most important job! We’d love to have you check us out at www.joovy.com and like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/joovy.
Michelle’s Review of the Bicycoo
Joovy knows kids and knows families. The balance bike arrived (at no cost to me) in a small, lightweight box that was sealed shut with glue, rather than razor sharp staples. While Luke popped the bubbles in the bubble wrap packaging, I screwed the handlebars on so he could take his first ride. Once I was done, he sat on the bike, lifted his feet and said “Whoa, I’m balancing.” Pretty impressive that he got the concept right out of the box. Just as I was told he’d do, he began walking the bike around. Then he began to lift his feet up as he sat on the seat to see how long he could stay centered and keep the bike upright. Next came walking with short glides and I’m sure in no time he’ll be soaring over straightaways and turning on a dime, or at least as fast as his little hands can maneuver the size-appropriate handle bars. My biggest surprise? He didn’t ask for the pedals. Having taught my daughter to ride on a bike with training wheels last year, this is already proving to be a more positive and less stressful experience. The only downside? Now my daughter wants one too.← Expert Insights: Talking About Resilience with Lorraine Hirst of Way2be.me | Ask the Experts: Meet Erin Krex of First Class Care Academy →