Learning to ride a tricycle is a hallmark of childhood. It’s also great for development! Why is that? When is the right time to introduce a tricycle? And what do you need to know about keeping your little one safe on their first set of wheels?
Read on to find out.
How do tricycles support development?
First, riding a tricycle is great exercise for toddlers (the American Heart Association recommends lots of active play for toddlers’ health). When it comes to development, those three wheels promote many skills, such as:
- Motor planning: Motor planning is the ability to plan and coordinate movements to accomplish a goal. Riding a tricycle requires many parts of the body to work together — legs, feet, arms, hands, eyes, etc. – to make it move, turn, and stop.
- Secure balance: Riding a tricycle stimulates the vestibular system, which is helps little ones maintain balance and feel secure while moving.
- Spatial awareness: Trike riding improves spatial awareness, or the understanding of our position relative to objects around us, and the relative position of objects to each other. It also involves the concepts of direction, distance, and location.
- Proprioception: The proprioceptive sense contributes to coordinated movement. It also gauges how much force you need for something, which toddlers constantly practice on trikes as they figure out how hard to push on the pedals to make it go faster or slower.
When is the right time to introduce a tricycle?
Most toddlers are ready to try tricycling around their third birthday. If you’re using BabySparks, tricycling will appear in your activities after your child has mastered other skills that prepare them for it.
Tricycle Safety Tips
Here are a few tips for keeping your little one safe on her trike:
- Get the right size: Tricycles come in a range of sizes, and it’s important to get one that fits your child. Beginner tricycles, for example, are often low to the ground to avoid tipping, and to make it easy for little legs to climb on and off.
- Helmets are a must: No matter how slowly your toddler rides, they still need a helmet. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that to encourage your child to wear a helmet, you can model helmet wearing yourself, have your child choose their own, and offer praise when they put it on.
- Choose safe shoes: Your toddler should always wear sturdy-soled footwear that fully covers the feet (no flip flops or sandals).
- Teach on a safe surface: Consider teaching your toddler to ride on a soft surface, such as short grass. If they tip over, this will be a friendlier fall than it would be on asphalt.
- Always supervise: Although toddlers get better at safety awareness throughout age 2, they still need to be monitored at all times when they’re on their tricycle.
- Inspect the tricycle regularly: Keep the trike stored away from the elements (in a shed or garage, for example) to avoid rust damage. Inspect it regularly to make sure the pedals, tires, steering mechanism, and brakes are in good condition.
A child’s first tricycle is an exciting rite of passage that builds skills at the same time! These tips can help you safely enjoy this fun milestone with your little one.