The beginner's guide to buying a trike

Choosing the right trike may not be as crucial a decision as picking out the right car seat or highchair, but it's still worth working out what's important to you before forking out money.

Things you need to consider

  • Where you want to use it

If you're just looking for something for your newly-toddling toddler to potter round the kitchen table or garden on, then you may be happy with one of the bottom of the range, plastic models.

But if you're up for spending some real cash then it does seem sensible to think long-term. A trike's a great option for a toddler who doesn't want to be confined to a pushchair but is too small (or too smart) to walk for any length of time. If you're going to be using the trike on busy pavements or for trips to the shops or park then there's a whole lot more to think about.
Safety - does it have a seat belt?

Although it might seem a little melodramatic to have a seat belt on a trike - let's face it they're hardly likely to break the land speed record - it can be crucial. A harness will stop a restless toddler jumping off just when you're negotiating a busy road and will give you peace of mind. "Make sure you get a trike with a safety belt. We thought we'd been clever getting a cheaper version which didn't include a belt, but it's hair-raising and actually quite dangerous every time we cross the road."

  • Longevity

If you're going to splash out and spend £50 or more it needs to last. On the other hand if you're only spending £7.99 this might not matter. Adaptability - things like the facility to lock the steering and pedals for when you're pushing, but allow free steering when they can reach the pedals - is vital if the trike is going to appeal to wobbly 18-month olds and cocky three year olds alike. And a trike which grows with the child is always a plus on the financial side.
Functionality/ comfort for you

A removable parent handle is probably the single most useful feature on a trike - transforming it from a toddler toy, to a means of getting from A to B without a tantrum. Most people buy a trike when their child can hardly reach the pedals, let alone work out how to use them, so some means of propelling the machine along from a sensible adult height rather than constantly bending down to push it along at toddler height will save you a fortune at the osteopaths. As one reviewer put it: "I dread the demand for a trip to the park on the trike because I have to stoop to push and it kills my back."

Another thing to look for is lockable steering or you may find that trip to the corner shop takes rather longer than you bargained for as your child plots a side-to-side course rather than a straight line: "We find ourselves jinking into anyone and everyone on our journeys - sometimes I'd like to have a bit more control!"

  • The little extras

With trikes more than most products it seems it's worth forking out the extra for extra features like adjustable poles, safety harnesses and lockable wheels. Many models also come with a carrying bucket at the back. This may not seem particularly vital or fascinating to you, but can provide hours of entertainment to a two year old as they decide which toy gets the privilege of riding in their boot, or which item of your shopping they're going to carry home. Only your child can decide whether other attractions - a bell, a tipper bucket, Tweenies or Fimbles decorations - are important. The bad news is they will most likely think they are.

Last updated: about 3 years ago