How to Teach a Child to Ride a Bike - OutdoorToys

As a parent, teaching your child to ride a bike for the first time and seeing them pedalling around like a pro is one of the proudest moments and one you’ll cherish forever. 

But helping them build up the confidence they need to take off those training wheels and start speeding around on two wheels can be tricky. It’s all too easy to forget how tough it was when we were learning how to ride a bike, but remembering these difficulties is essential for making sure we’re able to coach our kids correctly.

In this guide, we break down the process of teaching a child how to ride a bike into 7 simple steps so that you can give your little one the thrills and freedom cycling offers. Whether you’re a keen cyclist or have never ridden a bike yourself, follow these instructions, and you’ll be able to help them on their way to becoming the next Bradley Wiggins in no time.

Get prepared

As the age-old saying goes, “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”!

We aren't about focussing on the negatives here, but it always helps to have a couple of plasters on standby when your little one is engaging in any kind of adventure sport. Here are some things you’ll need to make this magical experience unforgettable.


When your little sprog is still starting out on their bike riding journey, you will want to keep them as protected as possible. Here are a few essentials before you and the little racer hit the streets:

  • A helmet (that fits their head correctly)
  • Knee pads
  • Elbow pads
  • Comfortable, flexible clothing
  • Grippy shoes or trainers

Now your little one is all kitted out, take a picture. You will both treasure making this memory together for years to come.

What to bear in mind before you get started

It's important to establish some ground rules when teaching a child how to ride a bike. 

Of course, all parents will have different rules for their children, depending on a variety of factors. Here are some of our pointers to help keep your little one as safe and happy as possible while they are learning to ride.

  • Pick the right equipment: If your child struggles to touch their feet on the ground or can't lift their bike, you may need to choose a smaller or lighter bike. If they need some stabilisers or training wheels, be sure to bring some along.
  • Pick the right setting: You want to pick a quiet, open space where your child can learn with zero pressure.
  • Bring a first aid kit: Grazes and bumps can happen, and it's always best to be prepared.
  • Bring some snacks: Who doesn't love a snack? Your little tyke will need all the energy they can muster from a quick snack break.

So, without further ado, let's delve into the fun part: How to teach a child to ride a bike!!

How to teach a child to ride a bike: A step-by-step guide

Now, it's time to get those elbow pads on, tighten your little one's helmet and lead them to their noble metallic steed.

Step 1: Get to know the bike

Have your little one familiarise themself with their bicycle. With your support, let them sit on it, hold the handlebars, and try the brakes. Keep everything stationary whilst you both learn about the bike.

A good exercise is to let the child walk forward with the bike while straddling the seat. They may look a little silly, but it'll help them learn to balance! From here, they can get up to speed, using one foot to push themselves along gently.

Step 2: Pedal practice

Once your child has become more familiar with two wheels, it's time to get their feet involved.

Find a flat, even place to practice, and start guiding your child around on their bike. Encourage them to think primarily about peddling their feet in a calm, circular motion while you support them with balance. If your child's feet are planted well, there's a much lower chance of a mishap happening.

If they are comfortable, ask your child to coast along with their feet up on the pedals for a few moments at a time. Make sure they keep looking forward and remain steady.

Step 3: Steering and turning

By this time, your little one will feel pretty comfortable on their bike. Their nerves will have melted into excitement, and they'll be starting to really enjoy the freedom of floating through the air. This is the part where it starts to get a little trickier.

From here, you need to teach your child to guide themselves in the right place, gently moving the handlebars and looking in the direction they want to go. Ensure they're moving slowly but not so slowly that they'll topple over.

Step 4: Stopping and starting

Okay, so we've just about got the hang of moving and turning, but we're still a little way to go when it comes to your child being a bonafide cyclist. For most kids, some of the trickiest parts about cycling are stopping and starting, so we need to get them nailed.

Top tip? Make a game of the situation to get your kid’s brain activated and concentrating on the task at hand: play a simple “red light, green light” game to get them practising stopping and going under pressure.

Stress the importance of using the brakes carefully here. It's good practice for a child to learn how to come to a gentle halt.

Step 5: Master riding in a straight line

Here is where you begin to loosen the support a little. 

At this point, your guidance for your little one will be largely psychological: they will know how to balance their bike, steer and pedal.

Whilst you jog alongside the rear wheel, let your child gently steer and navigate their bike on a flat surface. If things get a little bit wobbly, step in, gather yourselves and try again! Falls can happen; that's what safety gear is for.

Step 6: Challenge them

Here's where your little one gets really comfortable with their bike. If they’re to build confidence, there has to be a manageable level of challenge.

To help speed up the process, you must introduce small challenges for your child to overcome. These can be things like small slopes, uneven surfaces or tight steering situations to help the child build up their body and mind.

To add an extra element of fun, why not take your child on a relaxed trail bike ride?

Step 7: Practice, practice, practice

Now, your child's toolbox of skills should be just about full. All they need to do is practice. The trick to confident riding is repetition, so try to set out a good routine in the early stages for your child to become fully comfortable on two wheels. 

Be sure to accompany them on rides until you're 100% sure they can go on their own.

Four top tips for teaching your child

Now that you’re clued up on the steps to bike riding success, it's time for us to impart some final words of knowledge to you to make the process as easy and enjoyable as possible. 

Here are our top tips for teaching a child to ride a bike!

  • Patience: Like any skill, learning to ride a bike takes time. As a guardian, you will have to approach the situation with patience and composure to enable your child to learn.
  • Take regular breaks: Learning can be tiring and frustrating for little ones. As they learn a new skill, their minds will be working overtime. Take regular breaks to allow time to process and rest.
  • Start easily: When your child is starting out, make sure the goals are easy. This will help them build confidence and experience while working on their skills. Baby steps! If your child is considerably young, say 1-4 years old, you can get them started on balance bikes to give them a taste of life on a pedal bike.
  • Constant encouragement: Taking on a new skill can be awkward, embarrassing and disheartening, but we've all got to start somewhere!

If you want the family to spend more time outdoors, take a look at our guides on how to reduce kids’ screen time or the benefits of outdoor play.

Browse some amazing bikes at Outdoor Toys

If your little one wants to learn to ride a bike, they're going to need the perfect ride to get them motivated.

Of course, it's not all about having the coolest bike on the cul-de-sac. The team at Outdoor Toys appreciates that. With this in mind, we've carefully selected our range to only include toys that look great, feel great, and are as safe as possible for your little racer.

We have a cool collection of kids' bikes, scooters, trikes and even ride on cars, just waiting to feel the gravel. 

But hey, there's more to life than rubber wheels. Why not take a look at our trampolines, paddling poolsplayhouses and climbing frames, too?


At what age do kids learn to ride a bike?

Whilst every child is different, children often learn to ride a bike without the help of additional support between the ages of 3-8 years old. How quickly your child learns to ride a bike will depend on how much they practice and how often.

How long should it take for a child to learn how to ride a bike?

Although it varies from child to child, it is possible to teach a child to ride a bike within one session, in around an hour. However, this is fairly rare and will depend on your child's confidence, coordination, and determination.

What is a balance bike good for?

A balance bike is a great option for toddlers who want to get a head start on learning to ride a proper pedal bike. These bikes are great for improving balance, coordination and strength.

Child development