How to Teach Your Toddler to Ride a Bicycle

Thank you to Islabikes for partnering with me on this post, and for such an amazingly made children’s bicycle!

There are some milestones that happen when you have children, that just make you smile from ear to ear. For us, the most recent one has been our three year old learning to ride a bicycle without using training wheels. THREE. YEARS. OLD. How insane is that?! See, there goes the huge grinning again. And it was so much easier than I ever thought it would be when we used the right steps. I always assumed training wheels were the first step, but after living in Europe and seeing how they taught kids and never used training wheels, we decided to give their way a try.

  • Start with a balance bike. Mila rode a balance bike for about a year and could ride that thing in her sleep. They are excellent as they are very light, teach them the constant forward motion of pedaling with their feet, and of course the most important thing – balance. For those of you who don’t know what a balance bike is, don’t fret. We have gotten tons of head turns from people who have also never seen them before. In Europe they were everywhere, and it seems they are finally making their way over here. A balance bike has no pedals, is lightweight, and teaches kids to balance on two wheels.
  • Ditch the training wheels. Don’t even buy them. Pretend they don’t exist. Because when your kid masters the balance bike, they can go straight to a pedal wheel bicycle and I bet they will learn it within the hour. Training wheels provide them a very unneeded crutch since they already know how to balance on two wheels.
  • Find a bicycle made for your toddler. Once it was time to transition to pedals, I wanted to find a bicycle that would last for as long as possible and actually FIT the size of her body. The generic bicycles in stores really aren’t tailored to children. They are literally just shrunken down versions of adult bikes and don’t take into account the height and size of each child, or their needs. They usually don’t have handbrakes and teach children the wrong way to brake- with their feet. Islabikes has you measure your child’s height and inseam to make sure their bike is the perfect fit. Every single component on their bikes is made to fit the needs of your child. They are also VERY light. Especially compared to the kid’s bicycles in stores, which has made all the difference.
  • Teach them how to pedal. We practiced in the house for the first day. I just pushed the furniture out of the way and had her pedal across the room and back for about an hour while I held onto the back of the bike seat. It only took her a few minutes to figure it out, but I wanted to make sure she was ready before we moved outside.
  • Teach them how to start. My instinct was to push her forward and then let her pedal but my husband taught her another way and it was brilliant. He taught her to always have one pedal up higher, place a foot on it, and then with the other foot push off the ground. Then told her to immediately start pedaling. This way she could always start on her own, without needing my assistance. She got the hang of it right away and after that, I did not have to hold onto her at all.

  • Teach them how to use the handbrake. The handbrakes on the bike we chose are perfect. Her little hands don’t have to squeeze very hard and they are in just the right spot for her. At first she wanted to stop how she did on the balance bike, with her feet. But learned quickly that the pedals were in the way and preferred using her handbrake instead.

We have been spending wayyy more time outdoors riding her bike now than we do inside. She asks me constantly to ride it and smiles the entire time. Be sure to check out Islabikes here and learn more about their amazing bicycles for children. Or follow along with them on instagram and facebook. You can see Mila riding her favorite new bike in the video below!

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