Tricycle or Big Wheel--age Appropriateness?

Updated on December 02, 2009
G.S. asks from Des Plaines, IL
8 answers

I would like to get my daughter a pedal riding toy for Christmas. She already has the Step 2 Push Around Buggy last Christmas but I think she's ready for more. I'm afraid she doesn't have the height for either as she is 33 1/2" (50% on the growth chart) but I don't know if she has the skills either.
At what age did you introduce a tricycle/big wheel? Are some models better for children who are younger/shorter? I am leaning towards the Big Wheel as it has a lower center of gravity, but I like the tricycles with push handles for more control as our street has no sidewalks.

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answers from Chicago on

Just fyi, anyone in PT will strongly recommend against a big wheel as they don't teach them to ride a bike properly. I have a 20 month old and we have a Fisher Price tricycle that converts from a rocking toy to a pushing toy to a tricycle and the seat adjusts for younger to older kids and it is moderately priced. We got it for my older son when he was 2 1/2 for Christmas....he didn't use it much but he has motor delays. My 20 month old is just now starting to figure it out a little bit. They also have these tiny tricycles in stores that you can adjust for very young children.

This is what we have:

These are the tiny tricycles I've seen:



answers from New York on

We have a trike with a push handle for my 2 year old. It's great because we can push him as he doesn't know how to pedal yet. Our neighbor has a big wheel and my son can't reach the pedals. He's tall for his age 38 inches in sept. If you can bring your daughter to store and try some out!



answers from Chicago on

My son had both. We bought them second hand so he could have both. We did not have sidewalks in our old neighbor but had a 200 foot long driveway. (Loved it) The tricycle was for when we went on walks but the big wheel was for riding up and down the driveway. Little boys like the way you can make the big wheel spin around. we put the car or truck at the end of the driveway so he could really get going. He had so much fun we bought a second big wheel to have at his baby sitter.




answers from Chicago on

We got my son a schwinn tricycle, which is sort of a "low rider" trike, for his 2nd birthday. No push handle. He turned 2 in May of 2008 and coudln't figure out the pedaling for the whole summer. We put it away for the winter and when we got it out last spring (early April '09) he could instantly pedal it. He rode it around like a crazy person for about 3 months, and then got a two-wheeler bike that he liked instead (he's pretty coordinated - was riding that without pedals by the time he was 3 yrs 3 months). The push handles are useful for the short period of time when they can't figure out pedaling, but I suggest making sure it's easy to remove the handle. The Schwinn tricycle seat is adjustable - it has about 4 inches of play in it so it can accomodate a wide variety of sizes. Not sure how that compares to other trikes.



answers from Chicago on

I agree about the poor design of the Radio Flyer "Fold N Go" tricycle! The center of gravity is much too high -- and it's a problem! I recommend shopping for a different brand.

My daughter received the tricycle a few months before she turned 2 and started using it that Spring (around 2.25yrs old). My son started using it when he turned 2yrs. Even if your daughter can't reach the pedals, she can scoot with her feet and learn some balance...then grow into the trike. could look for some used ride-on toys (like Big Wheels) at garage sales and Craigslist and have both available to her. I was able to pick a couple up for $3-$7.



answers from Chicago on


I have two bigger kids and a new baby. I can honestly say I LOVE toys that grow with the kids - versus one year/season and they grow out of it.

I can also say that we've had the Radio Flyer tricycle (never used because the center of gravity was too high and petals too far away - big safety issues), the kettler trike (love it - bought it used as I would never pay that much for a toy), as well as miscellaneous "big wheels" and ride on cars.

Now, for my third child I am looking into something like the Grow with Me Trike. Essentially it's part big wheel, part tricycle. There is no push handle, but the seat does adjust (big plus) to accomodate growing kids. (That was the single best feature of our kettler trike.) Here's a link:

Now if you're planning on more kids and willing to spend the money, I'd suggest the kettler. The are outstanding. Metal (durable), adjustable and some include a push bar to help with those walks when little legs get tired.

Whatever you buy go see it/try it out in the store first - even if you end up buying online. You can really see for yourself if it's what you're looking for. Some are cute, but complete junk.

Good luck! And happy holidays.




answers from Chicago on

I did get my daughter the Dora big wheel. We also purchased the blocks that go on the peddles so that she could reach them. While she is learning she can also push herself since the big wheel sits close to the ground. It wasn't until this year (3yo) that she could ride her little princess bike.



answers from Peoria on

We bought my daughter a trike with the push handle for her 2nd birthday. At the time she couldn't petal, but it had a little bar she could put her feet on. Overall I would say it's ok, but the one we got (I don't remember the brand- it was disney with princesses) didn't gve us much control as far as steering with the handle. She actually did the steering herself with the handlebars which sounds great until you remember it's a 2 year old with very little concept of steering! Also, since she wasn't/couldn't peddle a the time our little girl ended up dragging her feet on the ground (even with the footrest available). Since then we moved to a little apartment and it has been packed away, so she really didn't get much of a chance to try it with just the pedals and no push bar to see if that was better.

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