Putting your little rider on his first tricycle is a fun milestone. A well-constructed tricycle can provide hours of entertainment and exercise for your kiddo -- and maybe even tire him out enough for a nap, if you're lucky. However, be careful: Most kids aren't ready to pedal or balance themselves without toppling over until around age 3, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Also note that riding toys cause more injuries in kids under age 14 than any other toy, warns the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Years ago, most tricycles were metal. Times have changed, though, and trikes have changed, too. Many tricycles are made of plastic now. Plastic might not be as sturdy as metal, but it also won't rust, and it's lighter to haul around. Adjustability is also a consideration when you're buying a trike. Your kids will grow, so their tricycle should, too. Make sure you can raise the handlebars and seat as your speed demon gets taller. A tricycle that's not adjustable has a short lifespan and won't ever fit "just right" -- it's often too big at first and too small later on.
Just like cars, some tricycles come with add-ons that may or may not be beneficial. Horns, pretend keys or other attachments are cute, but be careful to ensure they don't pose a safety risk. In 2010, Fisher-Price recalled a children's plastic tricycle with a pretend key protruding below the handlebars and in front of the seat. Several young girls suffered genital injuries from sitting or falling on the protruding key. Horns or other objects placed on the handlebars can also a safety issue. If a child falls into them, remove them.
Some tricycles sit very low to the ground and have a wide wheel base, making them less likely to tip than a taller, narrower, more traditional tricycle. This type of tricycle might appeal to preschoolers who think traditional tricycles are too babyish but aren't ready for a bicycle. These low-rider tricycles are usually made of plastic. They have a very large front wheel and a seat that's very close to the ground.
If you're anxious to get your kid mobile before he can pedal, consider buying a tricycle with a removable handle in the back. The handle allows you to push him around on the trike before he can pedal. The feeling of his feet going around on the pedals will start to give him the idea of what he needs to do to propel himself. However, if he can't pedal quickly while you're pushing, his feet can get tangled in the pedals unless the tricycle allows you to disable the automatic pedaling. Look for a trike with this feature if you use a push handle.
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