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Balance Bikes

  • Choosing Your First Balance Bike

    Many parents opt to introduce their child to a balance bike instead of a normal bicycle with stabilizers. A balance bike, as the name suggests, encourages the rider to concentrate on developing their balance, before they learn how to turn a pedal.

    A balance bike looks a lot like a normal bike, but has no pedals or chain to drive the bike forward. In fact it's possible to make your own balance bike simply by removing the pedals, chain and mechanism from a normal bike.

    However, purpose built balance bikes are usually lighter and better proportioned, and are a worthwhile investment for training younger riders to balance on two wheels.

    Size Just as with a regular bike, getting the size right should be your number on #e priority. Your child should be able to get at least one, if not both feet flat on the floor while seated on the bike. Buying a bike they can grow into will typically lead to disappointment, as your child will be enthusiastic to get riding right away.

    Material Balance bikes come in a variety of designs and prices. Plastic bikes are usually the cheaper, and lightest, but least durable, whereas fiberglass is also lightweight, but will last much longer. Wooden bikes are popular as they are attractive. Larger balance bikes for older or taller children tend to be metal. Both wood and metal degrade if left outside in the rain.

    Number Of Wheels Some balance bikes are convertible from trikes. Starting out on a trike helps the child learn about propelling themselves forward. Then once a decent amount of speed is achieved, the two rear wheels are pushed into the centre, to create a two wheel balance bike.

    Steering Younger children may benefit from a locked front wheel. The wheel spins at the same rate as the back wheel, but the handlebars don't turn to change direction. This is useful for younger children for a number of reasons. First, holding handlebars straight on regular boles, requires a lot of upper body strength and concentration. Taking this out of the equation lets younger kids concentrate on just balancing the bike upright.

    Value For Money Depending on the age of your child when they receive the balance bike, they may not be using it for long before they are ready to progress to a regular cycle with pedals. Investing in a durable balance bike, will enable you to pass it along to a younger child, or sell it on, once the bike has been outgrown. All of our balance bikes come with a three year warranty.

    Brakes Some balance bikes come with brakes, others don't. There are two ways of thinking about this. Perhaps you don't want your child to get used to stopping their bike with the tips of their shoes, and want them to learn how to use the brakes from day one. On the other hand, maybe you know you're child will use stop by putting their foot down, so would rather wait and introduce them to brakes when they are old enough for a normal bike.

    Once you're balance bike arrives, check out our earlier blog post on how to ride a balance bike.

  • Learning To Ride With A Balance Bike

    If like me, you learnt how to ride a bike by starting with a trike, then progressing to a bike with stabilizers, you might be feeling a bit puzzled about how a balance bike works.

    These lightweight pedal-less bikes offer an alternative way of learning to ride, and are easier for younger children to use.

    Kettler

    Many children now start off with a balance bike, a lightweight frame, with no pedal of or chain mechanism. The child sits on the seat, then scoots along with their feet, enabling them learn to balance, before they learn to pedal.

    Since many parents don't have first hand experience of learning to ride this way, Wicken Toys are here to help with these top tips to help your child with their new balance bike.

    1. Get The Timing Right It's important to wait until your child is developmentally ready, and enthusiastic to give the balance bike a try. Some children as young as two years old take to the bikes with ease, others are still apprehensive at five. It depends on your child's individual physical development and natural temperament.

    2. Set A Good Example Children like to copy whatever their parents do whether it's using the TV remote, or cooking dinner. You can encourage bike riding, by going to safe open space, where you can enjoy a bike ride together

    3. Watch How It's Done There are plenty of videos on YouTube of young children learning how to ride a balance bike. If your child is a visual learner, they may find watching how it's done helpful, and the videos may provide you with a few ideas on how to help them too.

    4. Practice Falling Nobody wants to fall off their bike, but at sometime everyone looses their balance and takes a tumble. You can help your child by teaching them how to notice when they are off balance. Start on some soft springy grass, you can even place cushions either side of them. Start with both feet on the ground, then tell your child to lift them up briefly, then put them back down. Ask them to notice how the bike wobbles and feels like it is tipping to one side. Now they need to lift both feet up, feel which way the bike is tipping, and catch the fall by putting the correct foot back to down on the ground.

    5. Learn About Pedaling Since balance bikes don't teach about pedaling, it can be useful to show your child some pedals in action, either on your bike, on an exercise bike, or they can get plenty of practice by riding a go-Karts.

    6. Practice Observing Boundaries Now is a good time to teach them about how far they can go away from you when you are out in public. Set a limit on how far ahead they may scoot, or whereabouts in the park they can go. Build in a safety border so if they go beyond the limit you have time to catch up to them before they are in any danger.

    For more tips and ideas on outdoor play, check out the rest of the Wicken Toys blog.

  • Getting The Right Balance: Games And Activities To Develop Balance Skills

    Getting the right balance isn't easy. Being able to balance on a bike, or perch on a stool is something we take for granted as adults, but it's a skill that takes patience and practice for children to master.

    Earlier this year I wrote about whether a balance bike or regular bike was best way to learn to ride. Besides practicing on a balance bike, there are heaps of other games and activities you can play with your children to help them master their balancing skills.

    1. Wobble Board

    These boards are a fantastic investment and you can use them indoors or in the garden. Simply standing on them will develop balancing skills and core stability, for children and adults. Once your child is confident on the board, begin throwing and catching a ball or bean bag to really test their balance.

    2. Heel-To-Toe Walking

    Draw a circuit on the patio, or mark out a route on the grass, and ask the children to shuffle around like cautious penguins. They should put their hands out to the side (like wings), and literally put one foot in front of the other, with the heel of the front foot, touching the toes of the foot behind.

    3. Balance Beam

    You'll need something long, flat and about 4 inches wide, like a plank of 2 x 4 wood for the children to walk along. For older children who can do this confidently, make the task more difficult by dotting items along the beam that they need to bend down and pick up.

    4. Bean Bag Carrying

    Bean bags are often used to practice good posture, with children balancing it on their head and keeping it in position with an upright, head forward posture. But perching a bean bag on a shoulder, or an upturned, open palmed hand, is also a good balancing trick.

    5. Musical Statues

    Play this game just like musical statues, but instead of freezing when the music stops, children must adopt the awkward position that you call out, for example, 'right elbow on left knee', and hold it there while you count down from five. This activity develops listening skills, the ability to follow instructions, body awareness and balance.

    6. Flamingo Catch

    Tuck one leg up and stand on the other - just like a flamingo. Once your child is able to comfortably hold this position, challenge their balance skills by playing a game of throw and catch with them in this position. Then to really make it difficult, start a conversation. This develops the ability to multi-task, balance, and bilateral co-ordination.

    7. Hopscotch

    Simple but effective. Draw your hopscotch pattern on the ground then show your children how to hop and jump through it. Add some extra difficulty by tossing a bean bag onto a square, which you then have to avoid.

    8. Sit On A Ball

    Sitting on a ball, whether it's a football or a gym ball requires balance and builds the core abdominal muscles, which in turn give greater stability.

    9. Ride A Horse

    Probably not something you can just do in your back garden, but if your child has problems with balance and poor muscle tone across their back and abdomen, horse riding can improve their core stability.

    10. Leapfrog

    Use some round mats of large circles of paper, or even draw jumbo lily pads on the patio. The idea is to jump from one to the other, making a controlled landing, without wobbling off the pad.

  • Lighter nights mean kids on balance bikes

     

    Now that the clocks have gone forward, it is a great time to start thinking about getting your toddler ready to learn how to ride a bike. Lighter evenings are a perfect opportunity to introduce your child to a small set of wheels which will begin to increase their abilities and most importantly, boost their confidence ready for the next step towards bike riding.

    There are many reasons why choosing a balance bike over a normal bike could prove beneficial for your child and their bike riding.

    ·         Balance bikes don’t rely on stabilisers unlike a normal starter bike. Without these your child’s independence and confidence will grow as they avoid becoming too reliant on them. It won’t be as scary for them as there is no big moment when the stabilisers have to come off and it is like learning to ride a bike all over again. As they move up to a bigger normal bike, it is unlikely that they will even notice the difference.

    • Balance bikes are available for as young as two years old meaning that you can get your child into riding a bike from a very young and quick-learning age. When you’re young you haven’t developed as many irrational fears and arguably, you are a lot more adventurous. So encourage them not to be afraid and instead, enjoy bike riding.

     

    • As the name demonstrates, these bikes encourage excellent balancing abilities; a great skill to develop at such a young age. Maybe your child could go on to become a gymnast.

     

    We have several wonderful balance bikes among our selection of wheeled products here at Wicken Toys.

    Kettler Speedy Balance Bike in blue

    This Kettler Speedy is a great choice for a first-timer and fantastic value for money. It has been designed to withstand lots of tumbles with its high-quality frame in scratch resistant polyester coating and synthetic tyres filled with foam. It also has a foam protector on the safety handles, child-sized hand brakes, and height-adjustable padded seats (ideal for those sudden growth spurts).

    Kettler Run Air Layana balance bike

    If you have a higher price range and something a bit fancier in mind, then take a look at our Kettler Run Air Layana. This has adopted standard features from other Kettler bikes of its kind along with its own more advanced characteristics. It also has a sturdy parking stand, air filled tyres, and easy access frame, and an ergonomic seat.

    Feel free to contact us for more information about all of our product ranges.

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  • First steps to riding a bike

    The moment your child takes his or her first steps is a magical one matched only by a few things. Their first words, first length of a swimming pool or first mouthful of solid food. All these things are very special to you as a parent and to your little ones. However, besides these events, the moment your child pushes off and rides a bicycle for few yards without the help of stabilizers, a magical moment occurs. Not only a memorable highlight of parenthood, but a real confidence builder for your child.

     

     

    But this moment can be a long time coming and involve the precariousness and potential danger of that instant when you let go of your child's bike and expect them to have the confidence to ride unaided. The biggest problem associated with learning to ride a bike is gaining the confidence to balance in the first place. Children go straight from riding a bike with stabilizers to one without any safety features. And the disadvantage of this is that the skill of balance is not learned gradually over time but instead requires a leap of faith to attain. This is not only a worry for you as a parent but also incurs the extra expense of elbow and knee pads. Not to mention a few plasters or worst still, maybe even a plaster cast!

    At Wicken Toys we understand that you may want your children to have the freedom of their own bicycle and therefore, we have a range of balance bikes that are the perfect solution.

    Our balance bikes are much is smaller than  standard bikes, enabling the rider to walk with both feet on the ground, whilst sitting comfortably on the saddle. Whether you want to take them to the shops or to their favourite park, the balance bike will allow your child to gain confidence over time.

     

     

    While a balance bike imitates riding a regular bike, you can also be confident that they are perfectly safe, with you in control.

    Whatever age you want your child to start riding a bike, at Wicken Toys we know how you feel about letting them loose on a bike without the extra support and security of stabilizers. However, we can assure you that a balance bike is safe way for your child to learn to ride as they have control of their speed and are able to gain the confidence and ability that will enable them to ride a regular bike without the high risk of falling over and hurting themselves.

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