Believe it or not, there are times when a balance bike isn’t the best option. These are the pre-toddler years when children aren’t tall enough, coordinated enough or strong enough to use a balance bike. This is the time period when a child has just begun to walk and is still developing strength and coordination skills. Around this time children are using walkers to help them explore their surroundings. Pre balance bikes, also know as scoot-alongs are sit on toys with either 3 or wheels that children can sit and propel themselves by using their feet. One of the pioneers of scoot-alongs is the Big Company from Germany that created the Bobby Car back in 1972.
What to look for in Scoot-Alongs
When shopping for scoot-alongs there are a few features that are worthy of our attention. We refer to the Bobby Car a lot in this article because it is the best scoot-along available and has years of research and testing behind it.
- One of the most important features of a scoot-along are the wheels. We recommend sturdy, solid wheels that have low resistance when rolling but also enough traction so that they don’t slide sideways on smooth surfaces when being mounted by the child. Axles with smooth caps or recessed are also preferred to prevent injury if a child falls off or into the wheels. The Bobby Car has smooth, rounded caps.
- We also recommend that the toy is sturdy with a low center of gravity. Toy makers make their scoot alongs sturdier by using thicker, high quality plastics and they wheels are recessed higher into the body of the car to allow for lower seat heights and low center of gravity to prevent tipping.
- Buy your toys from a reputable company that cleary shows all the safety testing certifications and are backed with warranties.
- Do your homework. There are many product reviews form people just like you that have firsthand knowledge of how the product performs and what like or dislike about it.
- Sizing – just like balance bikes we prefer to see the seat height 1″ less than the child’s inseam.
So, in summary, skip the tricycle and start with a scoot along toy. Your child will enjoy it much more and you can save the pedaling for when they start using a pedal bike. Scoot-alongs are Phase 1 of a three phase approach in learning to ride a bike.
- Phase 1 – Scoot-alongs or pre balance bikes to learn coordination and build leg strength.
- Phase 2 – Balance bikes to learn balance, further develop coordination.
- Phase 3 – Pedal bikes to learn how to pedal and continually develop coordination, leg strength and confidence.
Best Scoot-Alongs for Kids
The Bobby Car is a pioneer in this category; the first bobby car was created in the 1970’s. Through the years they have added new colors, licensed characters and styles but the quality craftsmanship and attention safety has remained. A high quality injection-molded body with a low center of gravity coupled with solid wheels, easy grip steering wheels and a working horn make this our top pick.
The Bunzi is a unique pre balance bike for young kids. It starts out as a 3-wheel scoot along toy, then converts to a balance bike. The 3-wheel mode does offer some instability and you should use caution as to where your child rides this scoot along – we recommend carpeted areas until they become proficient riders. In addition to the Bunzi, Chillafish also offers balance bikes, go karts and other scoot alongs.
Y Volution has a full line of children’s ride on toys that start with the Pewi and move on up with balance bikes and scooters. They have toys for all age levels and abilities. The Pewi can be used as either a walker or a ride on toy for kids ages 9 months to 3 years. Features include, non-marking multi-directional wheels, large seat for stability and comfort. This four legged friend is available in 3 colors, and a long wheels base to prevent tipping.
We like scoot-alongs and pre balance bikes because they develop skills needed to transition to a balance bike. They develop the coordination of using their legs to propel the car; use of arms to steer the car in the direction they choose to move to and develop the upright poster used when riding a balance bike or pedal bike. Balance is not needed to ride these toys.