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Riding a tricycle

Problems with balance or the ability to coordinate both sides of the body at the same time can make it difficult for some children to ride a trike. Some children have abnormal postural tone, which affects the control they have on their movements and their body.

If you suspect your child has difficulty with this, please contact our CYPF HealthHub for advice.

  • Your child may not want to sit on the trike
  • They may not know what to do with their legs
  • They may be afraid of moving
  • They may not be able to steer safely

  • Make sure your child’s tricycle fits them properly, and that their legs can touch the pedals or reach the floor
  • If their sitting balance is poor, think about buying one of the modular tricycles that are suitable from infancy and have straps and adapted seat backs
  • Some children are helped by practicing on Balance Bikes without pedals, which allows them just to focus on their balance. There are a range of makes available to buy
  • Young children can also practice gaining their balance on other sit-and-ride toys such as rocking horses and little cars. This will give them the opportunity to practice getting on and off and sitting on. Make sure their feet can touch the ground
  • Practice with getting on and off the tricycle. Help them by steadying it to start with. This will involve them getting on and off, balancing on one leg
  • Practice with pushing the tricycle along with both feet doing the same movement, without the pedals to start with. If they need help to move the tricycle forward, think about buying one with an adult push bar or use a walking stick, pushing against the frame
  • Once they’re confident, try encouraging them to place their feet on the pedals. Some makes of tricycle have pedal straps to keep their feet in position
  • Place their feet on the pedals with one knee at the top and prompt them with your voice and/or by tapping their knee to push down to get started. You may need to use the push bar to help them if they’re not strong enough
  • Keep prompting and praising the child so they continue pushing down with the top knee to keep moving the pedal and the tricycle forward
  • At first you’ll need to help your child steer as they get used to doing all the different things involved in tricycle riding, gradually offering less and less support until they master it