Introducing A Baby To Two-Wheeled Fun With A Strider, Part One

Introducing A Baby To Two-Wheeled Fun With A Strider, Part One

© 2024, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By Anne Barnes.

By Anne Roberts Barnes

It’s 5:08 a.m. and I’m sitting in my living room with my coffee, and I’m excited, because I’m going to introduce my very own daughter to two wheels!

Having my first child has brought the most positive changes and blessings in my life. There is nothing else I would rather be doing than helping her experience all the fun things in the world. My love and enthusiasm for two wheels has burned bright for a very long time. Riding has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember; from learning to ride a bicycle at a young age, to racing motorcycles with the best in the nation, and even standing on the podium of a mountain bike race just a few years ago.

Throughout the years, I’ve seen friends posting photos of their young kids on very interesting Strider small balance bicycles on rocking bases, which they later remove when the child is ready to balance the Strider on their own. I knew this was an experience I’d like to provide to my daughter, Olivia, as soon as she was ready. It turns out that being ready to start the two-wheeled journey came a lot sooner than I expected!

 

Olivia Grace "OG" Barnes and her Strider. Photo by Anne Barnes.
Olivia Grace “OG” Barnes and her Strider. Photo by Anne Barnes.

 

Olivia Grace, a.k.a. “OG,” is now eight months old. She’s very strong, active, and curious. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, must be investigated…thoroughly and immediately. When we first got a 12-inch Strider Sport, her dad (Michael Barnes, a Daytona 200 winner and now-retired pro racing veteran) put the package on the floor and let her crawl over to it for inspection. Michael assembled it in front of her on the back porch while she enjoyed eating (making a mess of) some sweet potato. Since all activity regarding the bike should be focused on leisurely fun, we wanted to make sure we involved her in the whole process, including the unboxing and assembly. Assembly of the bicycle and rocking base was extremely simple. The instructions were straightforward, and it took about 10 minutes to put it together. We were immediately impressed with the quality of the product, the hardware, and the sturdiness of the unit. The bicycle weighs in at just 6.7 pounds, and it looks pretty sporty!  It was easy to secure into the rocking base.

Later in the day, we set the Strider on the floor in our living room. Olivia immediately noticed there was something new in the house and crawled down the hall and headed over to check it out. The pitter patter of fast-moving hands and feet down the hallway, rushing towards the new toy, was the cutest thing I’ve seen and heard. She put her tiny little hands on the rocking base, scratched at it, and moved it around, but seemed to be a little timid, looking back at us frequently for reassurance. That short interaction pretty much concluded her first experience with the bike. Just a few minutes passed, and she was on to other very important baby things like checking out the dog’s tail and jiggling her rattling lion toy.

 

Olivia Grace "OG" Barnes and her Strider. Photo by Anne Barnes.
Olivia Grace “OG” Barnes and her Strider. Photo by Anne Barnes.

 

I put the Strider in her carpeted room so she could acquaint herself to it at her own pace. Sure enough, the next day, she became very intrigued with the bright yellow fun machine! At this point in her life, “OG” is still working on pulling herself up into a standing position. This bike has turned out to be the perfect tool for her to practice. The bike and rocking base have a variety of different levels to hold on to and some very fun textures on the various parts. Her current goal seems to be wanting to touch the handlebar. To get to it, she will put her hands on the rocking base, move one hand up to the frame, seat, or swingarm, and pull or push to try and stand up to reach it. She’s gotten there a few times before she topples over onto the carpet and laughs. We celebrate each attempt, regardless of outcome, with clapping hands before she’s eager to try again.

 

Olivia Grace "OG" Barnes and her Strider. Photo by Anne Barnes.
Olivia Grace “OG” Barnes and her Strider. Photo by Anne Barnes.

 

Next, I lifted her up and sat her on the seat. The Strider has a wide range of adjustability in the height of the handlebars and seat, and I was pleasantly surprised when her feet were able to rest flat, comfortably on the rocking base. Adjusting seat and bar height on the Sport requires zero tools, which is a major convenience factor! I kept my hand securely on the small of her back for extra support and reassurance. She loved sitting on the bike and holding onto the handlebars! She was having a lot of fun just hanging out, sitting on the seat with my assistance, so I very slowly took my supporting hand away, and much to my astonishment, she continued to cheerfully sit on the bike unaided. I’m still absolutely amazed that my 8-month-old baby can do this. After a few minutes of scratching and banging on the handlebar pad, she was ready to play elsewhere so I helped her down and she was on to her next activity – batting at the closet door stopper.

While I can’t tell you exactly what she is thinking, she seems to consider the Strider as one of her main toys now. She loves feeling all the different parts and textures, mainly the grippy swingarm cover and the tires. This unit is already the single most important factor in her learning to stand up on her own.  She’s now using the same methods that she uses to stand up on the Strider on other items in the house.

 

Olivia Grace "OG" Barnes and her Strider. Photo by Anne Barnes.
Olivia Grace “OG” Barnes and her Strider. Photo by Anne Barnes.

 

Not only does Strider make a really unique toy, the company also operates on great principals. Their mission looks to be plain and simple: To get more kids on bikes. They do a lot of good, donating units to provide opportunity to more children. I’m a big believer in kids having minimal screen time and spending lots of time outdoors. If children are on their bikes, they’re not in front of screens, and good chance they’re outside in the fresh air, in the company of others, getting dirty, and taking in their daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun, just as nature intended.

I’m thankful OG will learn to ride a bicycle so early in life. I believe it’s an important skill to master because it promotes good balance and coordination in general. I may be a bit old fashioned, but one of the biggest parts of being a kid is riding bicycles, it’s just that simple! I’m looking forward to continuing with this mini-series, documenting how Olivia’s progress is going and the approaches and teaching methods that work for her. The Strider website (StriderBikes.com) also has some good tips and demonstration videos as a guide. Babies tend to all work at their own pace, and this is definitely not something I’m going to force or rush her into. Eventually working up to scooting around on the Strider is a skill I’d love for her to master. That being said, I don’t know exactly when the next update will be, but I’ll be sure to write at each major milestone or each cluster of milestones. The clock has struck 7:00 a.m. and it’s now time to start the day. ‘Till next time!

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