From balance to pedal bike – #CountryKids

A while ago I blogged about how Andrew loved his balance bike and was very good at riding it. Well he still does and still is, but for Christmas he was very kindly given a big boys’ pedal bike by Granny and Grandad. We’d noticed that he was getting quite big for his balance bike – the Early Rider lite – which he’s been riding for over a year, since just before his 2nd birthday. The saddle is on the highest position and his feet are well and truly touching the ground. At about the same time, he’d been noticing the big girls and boys of Cambridge riding on their pedal bikes, and decided that he too wanted to have a go. So we suggested to him that he wait for Christmas and see what surprises might come his way.

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And he wasn’t disappointed. Well, not until he got on it, tried to pedal off and fell off! I think he thought he’d just be able to do it as amazingly as he’d been doing his balance bike. That put him off a little, so we encouraged him to get on it step by step, doing just a few minutes on the drive with it each day and using his balance bike for longer trips out. We’d heard a tip that not putting the pedals on straight away helps kids get used to the new, heavier, bigger bike, whilst still acting like they’re riding a balance bike. It was also just a tad too big for him at first. But without pedals he was happy to sit on the cross bar and push himself around with his feet, just like he’s used to.

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Then one day a couple of weeks ago, when out riding (i.e. pushing) in the cul-de-sac with Daddy, he asked to have the pedals on. So they were quickly whipped on before he had chance to change his mind, and off he went, with Daddy holding the back of the saddle as he pedalled. He did really well, and over the next week, with more practice, he got even better at pedalling. So much so that when I took him out with his new bike one afternoon this week, all I had to do was lightly hold his coat at the shoulders – he was providing all the balance himself and I could easily have let go, but he liked the security of feeling my hands on him, even if just a little, because when I took them off for a second he screeched at me to put them back! And he didn’t fall off in that time.

I’m now trying to convince him that he really doesn’t need us to help at all, we’re not doing anything vital, but I think it’ll take a little more confidence. I’m sure one day soon though, I’ll just let go and he won’t notice, then he’ll pedal off into the distance. I’m already finding it hard to keep up with him on his balance bike – jogging after a 3 year old on a bike with a 15 month old on my back in the sling is a great workout – but once he’s off on his pedal bike, I think his speed with only be rivalled by me on my bike (which, incidentally, is in storage since we moved – there’s less need for it in Coventry than in Cambridge).

Despite the temporary lack of confidence, overall I think the skill of balance that his first bike has taught him has been key in him learning to ride a pedal bike so young. We’d heard that a balance bike was a good idea in this respect, but now we’re seeing for ourselves that it really is true. I remember learning to ride a bike without stabilisers, and I was quite a bit older than he is now. He will never even have been through the stabiliser stage, going straight from balance to pedal bike. I would definitely recommend this if you’re keen to get kids riding young.

Now we’ve just got to get Joel on the balance bike and we’ll be off on family bike rides before we know it!

As usual, I’m linking up our outdoor fun with the fantastic #CountryKids linky over at the Coombe Milll blog

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

52 photos – week 2

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Here are my favourite photos of the boys from this week. Joel is all snuggled up in our joint fleece on a dry but cold day at the park, about to drop off to sleep at this point. Andrew is proudly ‘riding’ his new pedal bike – the one he was desperate for at Christmas, but took one ride and realised he couldn’t do the pedals straight away so is more reticent to use it now, so we’ve taken the pedals off and he’s riding it around like his balance bike, only it’s a little big for him so he sits on the cross bar – but I’m sure he’ll get the hang of it soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riding on my bicycle – #CountryKids

For Christmas, Andrew was given a balance bike. He wasn’t quite 2 years old, but this ‘lite’ version of the Early Rider is designed for children aged 20 months plus. He had a go on it with grandparents helping him when we were staying with them for the Christmas break, but when we came back home, he didn’t seem too fussed to ride it much for a couple of months. He didn’t mind if one of us pushed him on it, but he didn’t seem to want to try riding it himself. It probably didn’t help that it was a cold winter and there weren’t exactly ample opportunities to take it out, especially as I still had a small baby in my care as well as him during the week.

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Then, all of a sudden around Easter time, he started to show more interest again. The days were getting longer, the weather was, well, still not great but hey, and Joel was being less demanding in terms of feeding all the time. So we had more opportunity to take the bike out in the garden and to the park. One day, he went from insisting that one of us held onto the saddle to riding it all on his own with no help, just like that. And it didn’t take long before he was really confident, enough to lift his feet up when going downhill and ride it like a ‘real’ bike.

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I’d heard about balance bikes before he was bought one by Granny and Grandad – the theory is that they help toddlers learn what it feels like to ride a bike before pedals are introduced, so that when they are big enough to get a pedal bike, the biggest part of learning to ride it, the balance, is already in place so they just have to add in the pedalling bit and away they go. I was recently talking to a friend whose son is about a year older than Andrew and he has successfully done this transition with ease. A trike teaches pedals but not balance, so it would take longer for the balance to come when moving onto a bike. In theory, there shouldn’t be a need for a pedal bike with stabilisers once balance has been mastered on a balance bike, though they may help for a short period whist the skill of pedalling is being mastered.

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For now Andrew is happy on his balance bike, but I can see already that it won’t be long before he can take the next step (and Joel can have his balance bike). Where we live (Cambridge) you see lots of kids cycling, many from very young, I guess because there is such a culture of cycling around here. In our pre-kids life, Tom and I cycled everywhere, and Tom still does on his own. I’m not keen to take the boys on a bike myself, as I personally don’t feel that child bike seats and trailers look particularly safe, and I wouldn’t say I’m confident enough at cycling on the road with them. So I haven’t cycled since Joel was born when I stopped going to work on my bike. But one day I hope that we will be able to go cycling together as a family on the cycle paths down by the river, for example.

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Now that the evenings are lighter, our favourite late afternoon activity has become getting the bike out and Andrew riding it around the garden and on the drive in front of the block of flats we live in. He would do this for hours if we let him, but at some point we do have to coax him back in with the promise of dinner! (Food always works in his case.) The drive is off a very quiet cul de sac, so a car hardly ever comes along at that time of day, and when they do there is the most evil speed bump in the world to slow them down. In fact Andrew loves bumping up onto that and coming down again, a bit like a skate park ramp for toddlers. On the drive there is plenty of space for him to ride around. There is also a slight incline in the paving which he loves riding down and that’s where he’s learnt to take his feet off the ground and just free wheel down the ‘hill’ (as he calls it – hardly a hill, though by Cambridge standards it’s pretty hilly).

Like many life skills, such as swimming and learning languages (two of my favourites), I think cycling is one of those things that the younger you learn, the easier it is. So I’m glad that Andrew has taken a liking to it already, and I think he will beat Daddy and me in when we learnt to ride a bike – I can remember it, so I must have been about 6 or 7.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall