Some patience and a positive attitude will help them master riding a bike in no time.
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It's a major part of many childhoods and an exciting time for both parents and kids: Teaching a child how to ride a bike. There are bound to be a few scrapes and bruises, but in the end, it will be so rewarding for your little one to be able to pedal on their own. Just like talking and walking, every child develops differently, so there's no exact age at when you should start teaching your child how to ride a bike, says Emma Dines, the kid’s bike expert for Halfords, a bicycle and auto retailer in the United Kingdom. The smallest bikes, like the Schwinn Koen Bike for Toddlers and Kids ($139, Amazon) with stabilizers (training wheels), start at 12 inches and are intended for children ages 2 through 4. However, some children might learn later in life, and that's completely okay, Dines says. The number one thing that you need to do as a parent is to be prepared and help them out. Here are a few tips on how to help your child learn how to ride a bike.

girl riding bike with family on outdoor trail
Credit: SolStock/Getty Images

Safety First

The proper equipment is imperative to ensure your child stays safe. "Make sure you take the time to research which type of bike you want your child to learn to ride on," Dines explains. Bikes come in different sizes with guides on the intended ages, and "It is really important to buy the right size bike for your child, not ‘a size up’ as so many myths are told," Dines notes. You don't need to spend a fortune on a bike; there are many options at affordable prices, like the Huffy 12-inch Bike ($50, Walmart). "And of course, the design is the most important aspect for any child," Dines adds.

Along with the bicycle, you need to purchase a helmet (from $20, Amazon) and knee pads ($15, Walmart) at the very least. Helmets are essential, and you should never let your child get on their bicycle without one. Consumer Reports released a report that analyzes a study covering 76,032 riders from 2002 through 2012. The results reveal that 88% of young riders (17 and younger) who suffered neck and head injuries while riding a bicycle were not riding a helmet. Ensure you teach your little one that a helmet is non-negotiable.

Pick Your Place

Once your kid is ready to ride, you need to select the ground where they're going to practice. Dines recommends your yard, the driveway, or pavement at the park. "[Just] somewhere where the terrain is flat and smooth so that the focus can be on mastering balance and confidence without distractions like busy roads, obstacles, or steep hills."

Make It Fun

"The main thing is to make the learning experience an enjoyable one," Dines says. "Be patient, give praise, and don’t panic if they fall off, as often children lose their confidence if they feel too pressured and lose interest in learning." Keeping things light will encourage them to keep trying, and once they succeed, it will be thrilling for both the parents and the children. "We all know from our own memories how amazing it feels to have the freedom to ride solo!"

Also, don't worry if you're child is taking some time to learn how to master bike riding; it all depends on the kid. "It can take some children a few hours, a few days, or weeks to learn," Dines says.

Don't Forget About Maintenance

One aspect of bike riding that people can forget? Maintenance. "If left abandoned in a garage or shed, bikes will start to deteriorate," Dines warns. Halfords offers free bike checks in their stores to ensure the equipment is still safe. (And your local bicycle shop might also; just check.) An easy way to keep your bicycle in tip-top shape is to keep it clean. "A clean bike not only looks better but stops the frame from the corrosive grime and mud," Dine says. Plus, it lubricates the chain, and "This will prevent the moving parts from wearing out."

If your little one hasn't ridden their bike in a while, do an all-over inspection. "Check [to make sure] the brakes are working, and your child can easily reach the levers," Dine explains. "Make sure the saddle is not too high or too low, as this can make for an uncomfortable ride. "And check that the tires are inflated to the correct pressure (usually indicated on the tire), or that they just feel firm enough."

With these steps, you can help your child learn how to ride a bike without stress. Plus, you'll have fun making memories together.

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