Balance Bikes For 1 Year Olds
This article answers all the questions you may have about getting a 1 year old a balance bike. So if you're considering getting a balance bike for a young child read on.
Are 1 Year Olds Too Young For a Balance Bike?
There is not a straight yes or no answer to this question. Firstly, during the year of 1 to 2 there is so much physical development that a 12 month old is very different to a 23 month old. If you're looking to buy a 2 wheel balance bike for a 1st birthday than yes, it may be too young. However, there are ride-on toys that convert into balance bikes that may work for a child turning 1. There are also 3 wheel bikes that transform into a 2 wheel balance bike included in our list below.
It is likely that most kids won't be showing much interest in a 2 wheel balance bike / ride on until they are at least around 18 months unless they are particularly active.
18 months is probably the youngest age for a proper balance bike. The smallest balance bikes on the market for kids is the Strider and the Y Velo junior which are marketed for little ones from aged 18 months. Having said this, not every 18 month old will be able to ride a balance bike. To ride a balance bike a 1 year old baby needs to be a confident walker.
Check out YouTube to see very young children riding on balance bikes.
Chillafish Bunzi Bike
This bike has a very clever design. It starts off as a three wheel bike so the smallest children can use it as a ride on toy.
As their confidence grows, it is easily changed to a two wheel balance bike. No tools are required for the changeover!
It's designed with indoor and outdoor use in mind. The tyres are silent, non marking and anti-skid. Made out of synthetic rubber they can be used inside the home but also on outdoor adventures.
What we like about the Chillafish, is it's so easy to change between 2 and 3 wheels. If your child tries out 2 wheels and isn't confident enough to continue, it is super easy to change back to 3 wheels.
The seat is also easily height adjustable from 22cm in 3 wheel mode to 25cm in two-wheel mode. The bike is easy to carry with a handgrip built into the back of the seat and there is seat storage too. Little ones love the seat storage for put in and take out play.
The age recommendation is 1 to 3 years and it comes in different colours.
Strider Sport Balance Bike
The Strider balance bike is suitable for children from age 18 months old up to 5 years old. It has an adjustable seat and handlebar. The lowest seat position is just 28cm (11 inches) from the floor. This is one of the lowest seat heights on the markets, making it a good choice for 1.5 year olds.
What's fantastic about the Strider sport is not only is this a brilliant choice for the youngest of children, it will also last them for years.
The seat extends up to 42cm but when little ones have outgrown this, the Strider sport comes with an extra seat post that extends up to 49cm and is suitable for older kids up to age 5. The 12 inch wheels are also ideal as kids get older, bigger and more adventurous.
Parents will like the fact that the seat and handlebar are easily adjustable. There's a quick-release clamp, so no tools required!
The Strider sport also has a padded mini seat which is perfect for toddlers learning to ride. The seat and the performance foot rest are designed not to strain the mini hip spacing of young children.
It's a super lightweight bike at just 2.9kg making it easier for little children to control and learn to ride.
There is a process to learning to ride a balance bike and some 18 month olds are physically developed enough to start the process. It firstly involves just standing with a balance bike in between their legs. Then they progress to walking around with the balance bike, slowly at first. Gradually they increase the pace with which they move with the balance bike until eventually they take their feet off the floor and begin to glide. Then they start whizzing along.
Some 18 month year olds are still wobbly on their feet and it will be an arduous task to get them to ride and control a balance bike. They will need to be a confident walker first. However, if they can stand with a balance bike between their legs, this is the first step and they are already learning!
Y Velo Junior Bike
This is perfect for very young riders with a minimum height seat of 10.5 inches making it great for kids as young as 18 months.
The flat seat design makes it easy for little legs to get on and off the bike.
Perhaps the most unique feature are the double rear wheels. It uses 2 double wheels right next to each other. The design is awesome as it teaches kids to balance which they don't get on a trike but still provides plenty of stability.
Once your child has mastered the double wheels, you can remove one of the wheels to make it a more traditional style balance bike.
The bike is great for indoor play before taking it outdoors. The rubber wheels roll smoothly on flat surfaces. They are best for flat and smooth pavements.
It has a built in steer limiter. This keeps young kids who are learning to ride from over rotating their bars and crashing.
The seat height is easily adjustable and there are four different seat heights. The handlebar does require a tool (an included hex wrench) to adjust the height.
This is fantastic for younger kids. However, it has a limited life span.
It's brilliant for learning how to ride, but if you want something that will last up to age 4 or 5, it's best to choose another alternative with a higher adjustable seat and handlebar. The wheels on the y velo are just 10 inches, older more adventurous kids will prefer bigger 12 inch wheels.
Wooden Balance Bikes
There are lots of options of wooden balance bikes that accomodate very young, small children.
The advantages of wooden balance bikes is that they are more environmentally friendly than plastic counterparts. They are quicker to biodegrade.
Wooden 2 in 1 Balance Bike / Trike
This is another 2 in 1 balance bike which converts from a 3 wheeltrike to a 2 wheel bike. It's features include:
- Two seat height adjustments (23cm and 27cm from the ground). This may seem small but it's important that a 1 year olds feet can go flat on the ground so they can push along.
- The wooden design is more environmentally friendly than plastic options such as the chillafish bunzi bike featued above.
- Suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
- It's lightweight (only 2.3kg) and can be carried with the built in carry handle
Wishbone 3 in 1 Balance Bike
The Wishbone 3 in 1 is really the crème de la crème of wooden balance bikes. It's not cheap, but it will accommodate kids from aged 1 to 5 years olds, so this bike is an investment in their childhood. It's excellent quality, environmentally friendly and lasts a long time.
1 year olds will start out using the wishbone in tricycle mode. If they can't walk yet, you can take the seat away and use it as a baby walker. So they can straddle the bike and push it along with the handlebars. They can also do this with the seat on, so it kind of acts like a walker as well as a trike and a bike. It's safe and sturdy.
With the seat on, they can learn to cruise as a 3 wheeler. Once their confidence has increased, the bike can then be converted to one with 2 wheels and it can be used as a balance bike until they are 5 years old.
The bike has a very clever designs so the seat is adjustable from 28cm to 46cm. It really can grow with a child.
The bike is made from Kiln dried preservative free birch wood and non toxic glues and finishes.
Another awesome feature is the wishbone is 100% repairable. All replacement parts are available for purchase. It also comes with a 1 year warranty.
Kinderfeets Tiny Tot Balance Bike and Trike
The Kinderfeets tiny tots balance bike is a small eco-friendly wooden trike that converts to a bike. The saddle is 22.5 cm high, so it's one of the smallest balance bikes out there. When kids are ready, it can easily be adjusted to 28.5 cm. The bike caters for young children from 1 year old who are at least 75cm tall.
The supplied wrenches can easily turn the trike into a 2 wheel bike when little ones want to progress.
Being eco-friendly is a huge part of the bike's design. The bike is made of solid and durable birch wood and its packaging is made of recycled cardboard. They have a tree planting program so they planted a tree for every bike sold.
Other desirable features include 7 inch solid tyres on the rear wheels (no punctures!). The extra-wide base on the trike ensures safety and stability. There is a soft seat and non-toxic hand grips. The bike has a low, step-through frame that places children's feet closer to the ground so they feel safe.
The tiny tot is a good looking bike too. It's available in various colours including red, green, blue and pink.
XIAPIA Baby Balance Bike
If you're looking for something within a reasonable price range and specifically for a 1 year old child (that will accommodate them between the ages of 1 and 2), this could be the choice for you. The sizing and design of the bike is quite precise to the height and abilities of a 1 to 2 year old.
The four wheels make this a sturdy option. There is a 135° limited turning to avoid babies falling down to one side. They may enjoy mounting and dismounting the toy and the size of it, makes it easy for them to do so. The tyres are made of EVA so you don't have to worry about it marking floors and they are a quiet ride too. The bike can be used both indoors and outdoors.
It's weighs just 1.9kg so is light for babies to manage and control and comes in different colours.
The Cruzee balance bike is aimed at kids from 1.5 years to 5 years. At 1.9kg, this bike can boast being the lightest balance bike on the market. This is brilliant for the youngest of riders as light balance bikes are much easier for smaller, lighter kids to be able to manoeuvre, handle and control.
It has a super low saddle height for a 2 wheel balance bike at 28cm (which is equivilant to the lowest seat height on the Strider bike - featured above). But it is a bike which will grow with your child. The seat can be extended up to 48cm so it can last kids until they are 5 years old. The handlebars can also adjust in height. This bike really will grow with your child.
The aircraft grade anodized aluminium frame is extremly strong will not rust. Children also love to ride this because with soft grips, a super comfy seat, low-profile axle bolts & flat-free foam rubber tires it give a comfortable ride.
So this bike is one of the best out there for the youngest of children. Not every 18 month toddler will be able to ride it, but there are some that can achieve riding a balance bike with the cruzee.
Bammax Balance Bike Baby
The Bammax baby bike is a very similar design to the XIAPIA baby balance bike. There's a slight price difference and there's not much to separate them. The XIAPIA balance bike has been available on amazon for quite a while and there are lots of reviews on there, so it might be worth checking those out when making a decision as to which is best. But the Bammax comes with a 2 wheel warranty which gives peace of mind at the time of purchase.
The Bammax bike is super lightweight at just 1.8kg, so it's easy for babies to handle the bike well on a variety of indoor and outdoor surfaces.
The wheels are EVA foam which is the material most wheels on balance bikes for young children are made from. The wheels won't mark indoor floors and offer a quiet ride too.
The height of the seat should allow for a slight bend in the knee which will encourage babies to push along like they would do on a two wheel balance bike and it ensures a comfortable ride too.
There's a 21 degrees steering limit to avoid babies falling down from the bike.
Aimed at kids between 10 months to 2 years old.
Which Balance Bike Should I Get For a 1 Year Old?
So, if you've decided you will try a balance bike for your young child, then it's very important to get the right one.
The most important thing to consider is the saddle height. The saddle height should be low enough so that your child's feet can go flat on the ground when they are sitting on the seat. If they can't go flat on the ground they will be unable to push along with their feet and ride the
To find out what size the saddle height should be on your balance bike you will need to measure your child's inseam. This is the measurement from the floor to the top of their crotch. The saddle height on the bike should be about 1 inch less than your child's inseam so they can get on and off the bike easily as well as ride it.
Weight of Bike
The other thing to consider when buying a balance bike for a very young child is how much the bike weighs. A heavier balance bike will be difficult for young children to control. Look for a lightweight balance bike. Ideally a balance bike should weigh no more than a 1/3 of a child's body weight.
How Does a 1 Year Old Learn How To Ride a Balance Bike?
The process of learning how to ride a balance bike is the same for children of all ages. However, it is likely to take a 1 year old longer to learn than older toddlers and preschoolers.
They will just stand with the balance bike in between their legs. This will help them get used to the feel of the balance bike. It's one of the reasons it's important that it's light. A 1 year old will need to be able to hold and support the balance bike by standing up.
A young child can will just walk around with a balance bike in between their legs. This is a good stage to do indoors. As little ones do this more and more, they will become more confident with handling and moving the bike as they move.
They will start to go more quickly and eventually run with the balance bike in between their legs. They are learning to move with the balance bike at a quicker speed.
They will pick their feet up at the running stage and start gliding. Their confidence about steering and using the balance bike will be appropriate to the speed they go. Eventually, little toddlers can really build up some speed and distance while riding the bike. So get your running shoes on and be prepared!
All 4 stages are part of developing and learning to ride and balance. With very little kids, it's important to be patient. They may not be interested in using the balance bike straightaway but it's there when they want to. It's likely very young chlidren will take some time to get through all the stages but suddenly they'll progress and you'll be wondering how they became so confident on their bike!
Other Options Instead of Balance Bikes
If you think your 1 year old is too young for a balance bike, there are lots of ride on toys that encourage young toddlers to push along with their feet. This is a good skill to have when they are ready to move onto a balance bike so it may be worth investing in a ride on toy which will give them lots of fun until they are ready to graduate onto about bigger bike.
A skuttlebug is a three wheel ride on toy that can be ridden indoors and is recommended for kids aged 1 to 3 years old. It could be ridden outdoors as well but probably not ideal for long distances. The 3 wheels mean that kids can learn to scoot along with their feet but with added stability. The front wheel steering is designed for maneuverability. The bike offers a smooth and quiet ride and it folds in three simple steps. So it's easy to store, put in the boot of the car or carry to wherever you want to use it. A fab toy for kids who are confident walkers.