A modern-day rite of passage, tricycles have gone through a lot of growth over the centuries to become the penultimate children’s toy that we now know and love. Created in the mid to late 1600s, the tricycle was originally a wheelchair adaption designed to help its inventor, a watchmaker, get around more easily. The 1700s saw pedals added to this initial design as well as the coining of the term “tricycle.” Over the next 100 years, the design would be even further modified and adjusted, eventually separating into adult’s and children’s tricycle forms and eventually growing into the transportation that we know today.
Children’s tricycles differ from adult trikes in several ways. They are almost entirely pedal-powered, lacking brakes or gears. They are also typically made out of plastic, especially in the tires which forgo the traditional pneumatic tires of bicycles in favor of those made from solid rubber or hollow plastic. These changes came about in favor of children’s safety, removing those parts of the tricycle such as chains and metal parts to prevent little ones from being accidentally injured while they learned to ride.
We all know that learning how to ride a bicycle is an essential life skill that every human being should have the opportunity to master at some point in their life. It can provide a slew of health benefits while also providing freedom to pursue a lifestyle of their choice. In fact, there is a part of the United States in which bike riding outweighs traditional car ownership, especially in larger cities and poorer communities. Riding a bike is better for your heart, better for the environment, and better for the cities’ bottom lines as they have to spend less on road repairs if there is less damage occurring due to motor vehicles.
While we all know that bicycles are important, tricycles don’t garner as much respect as they are often viewed as toys rather than the true tools that they are. Pediatricians recommend that children engage in at least one hour of vigorous activity a day to stay healthy. Learning how to ride a tricycle from a young age can provide them with an incentive to play. It can help strengthen their lungs and improve blood circulation. It increases their range of motion and flexibility. It can help develop gross- and fine motor skills, build core strength and increase balance. Tricycle riding is perfect for promoting cognitive development by building hand-eye coordination, teaching cause-effect relationships, and strengthening visual depth perception.
Tricycles are great for familial bonding as well, allowing your child to keep up with older family members and encouraging walks and outdoor activities. Whether you are looking to give your little one the confidence they will need to learn how to ride a bike later in life…or just want to have fewer steps on your next jaunt around the neighborhood, providing them a tricycle is a great way to encourage positive adult-child interactions. We have gathered a selection of tricycles from across the internet in a variety of age, size, and skill levels to fit your child’s unique needs. We hope that one of our 10 Best Tricycles for Kids and Toddlers will be your little one’s first taste of freedom!
The Best Tricycles for Kids and Toddlers
Criteria Used in Evaluation of the Best Kids’ Tricycles
For all of our lists, we pore through hundreds of products to find the ones we think are the best ones for our readers. We believe you support our efforts in relating our toy lists to your child’s development. We try to find toys that are creative, a smart buy and are easily assembled. We also choose the products that are most highly rated.
All of the toys on our lists are made by reputable manufacturers that get high marks for customer service and satisfaction. We also look for innovative ideas from toy makers so that you get new looks and new ways of doing things that might be better than what came before. We present, you decide.
This is important for a weight-bearing toy, such as a tricycle, so as we go through the products, we check for safety issues and look for weaknesses that may be there. We don’t want fingers squished or kids landing painfully on a sidewalk or any of the other hurtful things that could happen. So if we see something that triggers a question, we research it, and we may leave it off the list.
Pleasing to the eye
People are attracted to objects that are pleasing to the eye in color, shape, and size. When looking for a toy, most people look at a product first, then read about it or touch it. Kids are very visual, so we want toys for them that they are attracted to. Since kids’ eyesight may not be fully developed when we purchase a toy, they look first at bright colors like red, blue, and yellow. As their vision continues to develop, they start including paler hues in their field of vision. So, we try to pick colorful toys that attract kids’ attention. That being said, we also mix in some paler colors so that you, the parents, have a choice.
We always look for the top-rated products. We judge by the number of stars and the number of reviews a product gets on Amazon. We look for reviews on other sites as well. We can tell by the reviews whether or not parents and kids are excited by a product or if they view it as lackluster. What customers think of the products we decide to offer helps to determine if it makes our list.
How tricycles help kids
Kids need lots of exercises because they need to build muscles both big and small. A tricycle fills that bill. They exercise arms by steering and balancing and legs by pedaling. Also by balancing on a trike, the child’s core muscles in the abdomen are strengthened. All of this exercise makes a kid’s muscles stronger, and that will help support his body as he grows up.
When toddlers are very small, they have little sense of balance, but when they start walking, balance becomes paramount in their development. Without it, they don’t walk. Riding a trike or bike involves making those balance muscles much stronger, and if your kid likes the bike, and he’s on it a lot, those muscles will grow much faster. And his balance will become much better as he grows.
As children grow, their muscles get stronger, their grip improves, and their gross- and fine-motor skills improve. This gives a little one confidence that her body structure will support her as she tries out new movements and new steps, and new ways to climb.
The other type of confidence is self-esteem, confidence in self. As her confidence grows stronger, a little girl will try to stretch it so that she tries new things without fear or knowing that she can overcome fear. As she gains confidence in riding her trike, she will go on new adventures, assert her independence, find new friends to have fun with and increase her repertoire of experiences.
At around age 2, most kids are ready to try to move away from parents a little and assert their independence. Interesting how that coincides with the time they are ready to start riding push bikes and moving onto trikes. This push for independence often results in what parents call the “terrible twos.” But this age is good because kids become more willing to try new things, like a trike. If your child is not ready, she will tell you. Then just put it away for a bit and pull the trike out later. Once she feels more confident, you may not be able to hold her back. Then you just have to provide the safeguards so she doesn’t get hurt.
How to choose a tricycle
Keep it low to the ground. It’s important for the safety of your child, because they may take a tumble. Most kids do. It’s childhood. This way they don’t have far to fall. This also helps kids in keeping their feet on the ground. If it’s a push bike or trike, they still have to be able to put their feet on the ground and stand up. It’s safer. It gives a kid more confidence, and it’s easier for him to get his legs moving to push if they have to.
Make sure the trike fits your child. If you put your child on the trike and he can’t reach the pedals, it’s not a good fit. Try to get a trike with an adjustable seat so you can make it fit. If the trike doesn’t fit your child, return it and get one that is a better fit. Getting a trike that’s lower to the ground will help. Make sure he can reach the pedals. If your child can’t reach the pedals, then he will get frustrated and not want to ride.
Get the needed accessories to keep your child safe. Most notable of these is a helmet to protect the head in case of a fall. He should be wearing a helmet every time he gets on the bike. It may be inconvenient, but it’s necessary. Other possible accessories include elbow and knee pads. Even if you are right next to your child, an accident is possible. Better to be safe than sorry.
Get a trike with big wheels. Not only do most kids think big wheels look cool, the big wheels also help to stabilize the trike because they are normally wider. It’s also important to look for wheels that have tread on them so that the trike has more traction. Without traction, the trike slips and slides. With tread, the trike holds fast.
Teach your child to ride a tricycle. The main part of riding a tricycle is learning how to pedal. Your child has to get the connection between pushing the pedals with his feet and moving forward. So choose a big space, maybe a grassy place with a slight slope. Make sure your child’s feet are on the pedals, and you slowly push. Then give her a chance to push with her feet against the pedals on her own. Repetition is the key, and it won’t be long before she gets it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does it mean when they say it’s a 12-inch trike?
A: The 12 inches refers to the size of the wheels’ diameters.
Q: What does a balance bike do?
A: A balance bike is a push bike. It has no pedals, so the child moves it along the floor with her feet, learning to push with her legs. It is designed to teach children to balance, coordinating their upper and lower bodies, their vision, and learning to steer.
Q: How will I know when my child is ready for a tricycle?
A: Most children can start riding a tricycle around 2.5 or 3 years. When your child can stand and walk with confidence and understands cause and effect (like knowing that if she runs into the wall, she may get a bump on the head) then you may want to get her a trike. To work up to this stage, you may want to start with a three- or four-wheeled push bike. Then she can learn that if she wants to move, she will have to push with her feet and legs. Then move up to a trike so she can build her muscles and learn some balance.
Q: My little girl’s trike is too big for her to reach the pedals. Should we add pedal blocks?
A: While some people do use the pedal blocks, we feel that they are a quick way to get into an accident. Your child won’t be able to feel the motion of the trike as well, so her balance may be impaired. And the blocks make controlling the trike much harder. It’s best to get a trike that fits or go back to a push bike.
Q: We would like to get a tricycle for our 4-year-old boy, but we have a gravel driveway and our street is gravel. What type of trike should we get for him?
A: You probably want a trike with good, treaded tires. If they are big tires, all the better. The big tires make the trike more stable and the tread keeps the wheels in touch with the ground. Safety is the key.
Q: We bought a small plastic trike for my son, and the plastic wheels are scratching my floors. What can I do to protect the floor?
A: There are some ride on toys with non-scratch wheels, so you could try that. One example is on the list above, the Chillafish BUNZI. Another solution is to cover the wheels with something like cloth. If the wheels are small enough, try cutting the ends off of a sock and putting the sock around the wheel.