Learning To Ride a Bike

By Stacy Whitman

After three straight days of rain, my 1-year-old son, Whit, and I were going stir-crazy. We’d read every book, sung every song and played with every toy (including—eek!— Daddy’s BlackBerry).

We were both cranky from being cooped up. So when the sun finally came out, I strapped Whit into his bike trailer and took him for a ride. As we whizzed past a wagging puppy and waved to our neighbor, Lucy, I heard Whit’s goofy giggle for the first time in hours. Whether your little one is your passenger or learning to ride solo, two-wheeling can be a great way for the two of you to get outdoors and have fun together, says Garry Gardner, M.D., a pediatrician in Darien, Ill.

Even if you are the only one breaking a sweat, your child will learn the importance of physical activity by watching you. Plus, it will be an opportunity for him to see new things and learn about the world—far more than he would if he were parked in front of the boob tube.

As soon as your child can sit unsupported and has enough neck strength to wear a toddler helmet (usually by 12 months of age), he should be ready to come along for the ride. Before setting out, doublecheck that your child carrier is securely attached and your bike is working properly, advises Gardner, an immediate past member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Protection. Also, be sure to take some practice spins before placing your wee one on board.