Buy the Right Bike for Your Child!

Last Editorial Review: 10/25/2002

A bike makes a great present for a child, but the wrong size bike can cause a child to lose control of it and be injured. Bicycle accidents can be serious or even fatal. To avoid an accident, MedicineNet recommends:

  1. Do not push your child to ride a two-wheeled bike until the child is about 5 or so and is fully ready for it. Stick with coaster brakes until your child is older and more experienced.

  2. Buy a bike that is the right size, not one your child has to "grow into." Bikes that are too big are dangerous.

  3. Take your child with you when you shop for the bike, so that the child can try it out. The value of a properly fitting bike far outweighs the value of surprising your child with a new bike.

  4. Test the bike for the right fit. This means that when your child is sitting on the bike seat with hands on the handlebar, your child must be able to place the balls of both feet on the ground. Your child should also be able to keep both feet flat on the ground with about a 1-inch clearance between the crotch and the bar while straddling the center bar.

  5. If the child you are buying a bike for is an older child, make sure the kid can reach and grasp the handbrakes and easily apply enough pressure to stop the bike.

  6. Consider a helmet as standard equipment for your child. When buying your child a bike, be sure the child has a helmet. (The helmet should be ANSI-or Snell-approved).

  7. The bicycle racers in the U.S. Olympic development program are required to wear a helmet. Your child should, too. Riding bareheaded is not at all cool.

  8. And if you are riding with your child, you should be wearing a helmet, too.

MedicineNet's recommendations are in line with those of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

For more, please visit Healthy KKids Center.

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