We got our son a balance bike (small wooden pedal-less bike) for his third birthday. These seem to be the modern way of teaching bike riding.

At the moment he sometimes will 'walk' the bike for few feet, but generally show no interest in using the bike. He's not super interested in his tricycle either. Maybe he too young (36 months)?

What are the steps in teaching riding using a balance bike? Where should we start?


8 Answers 8


36 months might be a little young, my son didn't really start to get it until he was almost 3. The steps we used with my son were pretty simple: I just went for walks with him, with him using or pushing the balance bike. I showed him how to ride (you can show him videos of other kids his age using them as well) and encouraged him to ride. It took a while, but at some point it clicked for him that he could ride the bike about as fast as I walk, and it was easier for him to keep up.

I ended up carrying the bike a lot, but I had him walk it as much as I could when he didn't want to ride. The constant presence of the bike as an option helped a lot, as did the regularity of practice. It took a while, so don't give up.

One thing that is pretty hard for them early is figuring out that they need to keep their weight on the seat for the bike to work! I'm working on that with my daughter, who is three and still doesn't quite have the balance bike figured out.

  • 1
    I think kids are really quite different. My older two could (and really wanted to) ride their balance bikes at 24 months and it took them just an hour or so to learn. My son started to ride his 'real' bike at 36 months. My youngest (currently 30 months) has no interest in learning to ride. She runs, climbs, jumps but ignores the balance bike...
    – user77907
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 13:29

We started this process a few days ago with a 28-month-old and a bike with the pedals removed. She was ecstatic to get a bike, and she constantly asks to go outside for bike rides, but she quickly wants off after a few dozen feet.

I think this is normal. It takes practice and requires motivation. You can't force it, but there are things you can do to help. For example, she loves to hold her feet up next to the front hub and get pushed "really fast" (as she describes it). If she asks to go really fast, I'll tell her that I'll push her if she makes it to the corner by herself. As another example, she sees me ride my bike frequently, and I let her "help" me pump up tires and perform small repairs. So she loves the idea of bikes even though bike riding is still a work in progress.

In the end, though, each kid needs to go at their own pace. If it helps, try to think about how challenging and uncomfortable it must be. Keep the bike around as an option, and provide some encouragement, but there's no rush. It's supposed to be fun.


Our daughter was (still is, actually) slow learning it, too. Compared to other children, I think the difference is that we take her to her daycare by car, while others, who live closer by, have their children go by bike, and accompany them by foot. I suppose they needed a lot of patience (and a lot of carrying the bike, too), but in the end constant practice paid off. Now their problem is to keep up with the children by foot ;-)

My advice: Try to find a part of the daily routine that your son can do by bike. If he does not go to a daycare, that could be going shopping, or to the playground. And as was mentioned by amcnabb, do not try to force it. Be patient, and he will learn it eventually.


Our first child was gliding along expertly on a balance bike when he was 4. Our middle child is, at six, still not comfortable riding. He doesn't like the falling down part. The two big differences with them are temperament and the pace of their physical skill development. I'm personally not worried. So, at 36 months, just try to make sure it's reasonably fun.

I think the important thing is just to give opportunities for balancing or riding. I would say at least every few days, allow some time for practice with supervision and and in safe place. This of course implies the obvious safety gear (helmet, and then whatever else you and your child can stand -- long pants and sleeves, possibly pads). If they keep at it, they will pick it up. As others have said, it goes from holding and helping balance, to letting go, to letting go and watching.

Your child will figure it out, with or without advice (though presumably good advice and help will speed things).


My Daughter started riding her STRIDER at 16 months and now at almost 3.5 yo she is a pro! My son has been a little slower. He started walking with his STRIDER at 17 months and is just now (19 months) starting to trust the seat instead of just walking with it. More than anything you have to let them take their time and get the feel for it. Once it clicks most kids will take off.


My Grandson got one at 2. He was interested but only for a few minutes at a time. Then Gramma brought up her bike. took off the pedals and rode with him. He did exactly as I did, no coaching - he just got it.

He is 2.5 years old now and we can go for hour long bike rides. he on his balance bike, me on pedal bike. (I kept the pedals off for 2 weeks and we rode daily). A good model and the want to do same was key.


Even the same thing was with my nephew as he was not much interested to ride the bike. One of our neighbor bought bike to ride for his son. Once my LO saw him riding a bike he was ready to ride along with the other kid.

Children want to participate, especially when they see other children have so much fun.


Learning to ride a bike is simple and fun for children between three and eight years old. Using a balance bike (a bike without pedals or training wheels) is so simple it seems complex. The trope of a parent running behind the child on a bike is just about the worst way to learn.

The steps are:

  1. Put the child on the bike
  2. Wait for them to glide (push off the ground and coast for a meter with their feet held up)

That's it. At that point they know how to start. Once they can glide successfully, they have the balance required.

Add in pedals, tell them to push.

This seems really simple because it is. Your job is just to recognize them achieve glide.

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