Kids need to start on a tricycle because a tricycle is much easier for them to use and is safer. But all trikes are not created equal, so base your choice on safety and value. To fit the trike to your child, have your child straddle it with her feet on the floor. She should be able to sit on the seat and stand up again easily, and, for a boys’ bike, there should be an inch or more clearance between the top tube and the crotch. If there is any less, the bike is too big.
To check the seat, have your child sit and put one foot on the pedal at its lowest point; his knee should be slightly bent.
The lowest-end tricycles are the all-plastic low-riding toys such as those produced by Fisher-Price. These trikes are safe and inexpensive but are quickly outgrown. The mid-priced trikes by Huffy, Murray, and Roadmaster have to be assembled. These trikes’ frames are bolted to the rear-seat platform and, if loose, may tip over during turns. The Pony trike, manufactured by Italatrike Co. and sold in most bike shops, avoids tipping by having its frame welded to the rear-seat platform.
When a child is ready for a two-wheeler with training wheels, it’s more economical to wait until he fits the 16-inch wheel size because it will fit for several years. If you can’t keep your child on his trike, then buy an inexpensive 12-inch bicycle because he will grow out of it quickly.