This month we're participating in Move and Groove with your Kids at Toddler Approved! Click on the button in the side bar if you'd like to get in on the fun!
We first encountered balance bikes at a park in Kuwait. An American boy sped up on this brilliant little contraption, and his mother explained that in California, every one was riding them. The concept is so simple, it makes me wonder why no one has thought of this before. Basically, these are small bikes without pedals. Any child who is walking with confidence can "ride it" simply by straddling the bike and walking. As the child gains confidence, he can start coasting for periods of time. If he loses his balance, he simply catches himself with his feet. Some people claim that kids will know how to ride a standard bike after riding one of these. We haven't gotten that far, but even if the only benefit is in using it right now, we are getting our money's worth.
One reason we love these bikes is that they do not take up much space. We keep them in our minivan, and are ready to ride bikes any time we find a path or side walk. The second reason we love these bikes is that Mom and Dad get some exercise too. My daughter, two at the time, was able to keep a pace equivalent to a fast walk for a mile or so when we first got the bikes. Now, both kids can keep me running. No more choosing between them getting exercise or me getting exercise while they ride in the stroller! Everybody's heart rates are up. Both of my kids love riding these. Just this afternoon my daughter and I spent thirty minutes circling the block at her request.
We bought these bikes off of Amazon. We chose the Glider brand because we were able to get a sixteen inch bike for our tall four-year-old. Friends have the Strider and like it as well. Here's the link to the main Glider web-site if you'd like more information or to try to find them in a store.