There are several milestones parents and caregivers cherish with their little ones. Seeing them smile for the first time, wave bye-bye, crawl, and then take that first step are moments you never forget. Once they gain their balance and confidence, it is time to introduce them to a balance bike. So while the journey of parenthood takes you for a ride, why not provide one for your one-year-old?
To start kids early, we offer some guidelines and the best suitable options for an 18-month child. But check the manufacturer’s recommendations, assess your child’s development, and consult with your pediatrician since every child develops differently.
What is a Balance Bike?
Simply put, a balance bike is a bike without pedals. It includes the frame, wheels, and handlebars but operates by a child’s running legs. To move forward, kids push their feet off the ground and scoot independently at their own pace. Little to no instruction is needed because their little legs will most likely figure it out. If the child can walk, they can ride!
What to Look For in a Balance Bike
Is this your first time shopping for a balance bike? Do you want the best option? When shopping for a balance bike, there are a few key things to look for like age, size, weight, tires, physical maturity of your child, budget, and more. There are so many makes and models available that it can be overwhelming.
To help you through the decision-making process, below are some points you will want to consider before you buy a balance bike.
Balance bikes come in various sizes to fit a wide range of ages, starting at 18 months old. Finding the right size is essential because it affects a child’s comfort and the ability to ride with confidence. Kids should be able to sit on their bikes with both feet on the ground and knees slightly bent so they can push off the ground and glide. The most common wheel sizes are 12-inch,14-inch, and 16-inch.
A balance bike should not weigh more than 30% of a child’s body weight. If math is your jam, you can follow this simple calculation (child’s weight) x (0.3) = (max bike weight). A balance bike designed to fit a one-year-old will not be a suitable fit for a three-year-old. Be sure to review the manufacturer’s product weight specifications. You can also benefit from choosing a lightweight bike since it is much easier to carry on the go.
There are several different tire types to consider:
- EVA Foam: These tires are made from foam and are common because they are lightweight and cheap to manufacture. They will suffice for the average neighborhood rider who sticks to the smooth pavement.
- Air: A standard tread on many balance bikes that provide superior traction and cushion compared to EVA foam tires. Your child can easily ride indoors/outdoors on smooth and bumpy surfaces. Air tires are prone to flats, so if you are comfortable pumping tires and some occasional maintenance, this could be a good option.
- Rubber: Provides a lot of traction without risking a flat. These tires are best suited for indoor use and hard surfaces. Ideal for indoor gyms, daycares, schools, and those who do not want the maintenance of air-filled tires.
- Hard plastic: Lightweight and typically the lowest quality tire option. These wheels provide minimal traction and cushion. For this reason, they are most often used on toy bikes and are only suitable for indoor use.
- Big Apple: Also referred to as fat boy, these tires give an outstanding performance. A bonus is that they are puncture-resistant. A large volume air cushion provides maximum traction on almost any surface. Your early rider can show off with these wheels!
Balance bikes vary in price from about $40-$200 plus. For those looking for the best value, we compiled a list of the top five picks! They all perform impressively well for the price and feature a good design at a reasonable weight. Take a look at the suggestions below that are best-sellers and highly rated.
Top 5 Picks
Finding the best bike for your child may be difficult because there are so many options on the market. So, what are the best balance bikes for your 18-month-old? Read on to find out!
Best Overall: Strider – 12 Sport Balance Bike
The Strider balance bike comes in multiple kid-friendly color options. Both the seat and handlebar adjust in height to accommodate young children from ages 18 months to five years old, or a 12– 20-inch inseam. Plus, no tools are required! Customers love it because it is adjustable and grows with your child before they transition to a peddle bike. There are no brakes, so be careful on bumpy hills.
Best Budget: Bobike Baby Balance Bike
The Bobike Baby Balance Bike is for kids up to 23 months. The low-profile bike features comfortable rubber handles and an ergonomically shaped saddle. It is adjustable in height allowing your child to enjoy the balance bike for as long as possible. Reviewers enjoy the convenience of quick and easy assembly with no complicated tools required to set up. Colors range from a sleek silver/white/taupe combo for minimal vibes to pastel pink, sunny yellow, and more to fit your child’s style and personality.
Best Design: SEREED Baby Balance Bike
The Sareed balance bike boasts a modern retro design. Sereed is perfect for families who reject primary colors and want their toddler toys to match a minimal aesthetic, paired with mid-century and Scandinavian furniture. For a budget-friendly price, you get four wheels instead of two or three, which provides more support and balance. Sturdy carbon steel supports the frame, features non-slip EVA handles, and is wear-resistant, so your little one can ride it indoors or outside.
Best for a Gift: YGJT Baby Balance Bike
Parents, grandparents, and kids are buzzing about this Bumble Bee-inspired bike! The manufacturer recommends this bike for kids aged 10-36 months. Assembly is a breeze and often set up in less than ten minutes. The sturdy structure is made with a carbon steel frame and not cheap plastic for longevity. A limited steer design with a 135-degree turn keeps your toddler safe when riding. Plus, this buzz-worthy bee ride activates blinking eyes with each handlebar movement.
Best for a Smooth Ride: The Schwinn Balance Bike
The Schwinn Balance Bike is perfect for your two-wheeling tot. Customers rave about the quality of the bike and how it helped their toddlers learn to ride. It features 12-inch wheels, a low ergonomic seat, an adjustable seat, air-filled tires, and much more. The size of this balance bike is perfect for riders between 28-inches and 38-inches tall. The padded seat and cushioned handlebars will allow for hours of comfortable riding.
Your toddler will be ready for pedals in no time when given a safe place to ride and positive encouragement. A well-suited balance bike will allow confidence to ride a pedal bike at an earlier age. After all, some of the best childhood memories are riding around the neighborhood.