Should You Buy Your Toddler a Scooter?

toddler scooter

Somewhere along the way, scooters became just as popular with kids as bikes, trikes, and ride-on vehicles (and, to be fair, they became popular with adults, too!). If your toddler doesn’t already have a scooter, they might be asking you for one.

Unless you have specific safety-related concerns, you might want to actually consider their request: toddler-safe scooters aren’t just a fun way to log some outdoor activity time, they’re a perfect way to build strong motor skills and a sense of independence.

Here are all the ways a scooter can be great for your toddler—and how to keep them safe while using it. 

It’s Great Exercise

According to the CDC, only about 24% of kids between the ages of 6 and 17 are getting the recommended amount of physical activity (i.e., 60 minutes) every day. As a result, the number of kids with obesity, diabetes, and other weight-related conditions is rising.

Encouraging your kids to give their heart a workout and move their bodies every day is important, but not always easy in our digitally-tempting world of TVs, computers, and tablets.

Enter: the scooter. What could be more enticing to a little kid than an invitation to go outside and ride their scooter, even if it’s just up and down your driveway or the sidewalk in front of your house? In doing so, you’ll have helped your child get some all-important exercise—but they won’t think of it that way; it’ll just feel like fun!

It Helps Develop Their Motor Skills

Learning to ride a scooter uses both fine and gross motor skills. Your child will have to push off the ground with their legs, hold their back steady and straight, and grip the handlebar of the scooter.

Any activity that involves a toddler using their body in unique ways can be a tool to help them develop stronger and more coordinated motor skills.

They'll go on to use these skills in a bunch of other ways, like playing sports, doing chores, building more sophisticated block towers, and even with the development of their handwriting!

It Gives Them a Confidence Boost

How many times have you heard your toddler say, “I can’t put on my shoes, " or "I can't change my shirt," or, "I can't clean up my toys by myself"? Maybe you've heard all three!

While there’s tons of things toddlers are able to do, there are still dozens of everyday things they can’t. Or, at least things they think they can’t! Sometimes, all your kiddo needs is a dose of self-confidence to see they can, in fact, do “big kid” things—and riding a scooter independently might be the first step in realizing just how capable they are. 

By the time your toddler has mastered the art of riding their scooter around the block with you following behind them, they might become more self-sufficient with other tasks, like getting themselves dressed.

They’ll Develop Better Balance 

Toddlers fall down more than average because they’re still understanding their center of gravity and working out this whole “balance” thing. A scooter is a perfect way to practice holding their bodies up straight while performing other tasks: steering, coordinating hand-eye movements, keeping an eye on their surroundings, dodging obstacles, and braking. 

It gets them outside

Fresh air is good for all of us, kids included. Studies show that kids who spend time outdoors sleep better, feel happier, and have stronger executive functioning skills; they may also benefit from higher levels of vitamin D, improved concentration, and even better vision.

It Readies Them to Ride a Bike

Some of the skills needed to ride a bike are different than a scooter, but just as many are exactly the same: balance, hand-eye coordination, fine and gross motor development, and a pinch of confidence. By allowing your child to practice on a scooter, you’ll be setting them up for an easier time if they start asking for a bike.

How to Keep Them Safe

Of course, while you want your toddler to have fun and reap the benefits of scooter-riding, it's just as important to keep them safe.

Have Them Wear a Helmet

Kids helmets come in a wide variety of sizes, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one that fits your child. According to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the helmet should fit snugly and sit low on your child’s forehead; be sure to secure any straps and buckles, and use sizing pads, if needed, to adjust the helmet to your child’s head.

Consider Knee and Elbow Pads

Depending on where your child will be riding, how skilled they are, and how fast they could end up going, you and your kiddo may feel better knowing that some of the inevitable falls will be cushioned by protective gear.

Since elbows and knees are prime targets for asphalt during falls, you can avoid some bumps, bruises, scratches, and possibly even fractures this way. (It also creates good habits for the future, when they level up to more challenging rides.) 

Teach Them Road Safety

Your child may not know that red means stop and green means go, or that those striped lines in the road are a crosswalk for pedestrians, cyclists, and, yes, scooter riders. Spend some time showing your kid the rules of the road the first time you go out, or consider buying a picture book or handy poster so you can go over the rules frequently.

Give Them the Right Footwear

Kids should generally wear sneakers or at least some kind of flexible, closed-toe shoe before riding a scooter. It should also be well-fitting so it doesn’t slip off or get caught in anything. If it has laces, make sure the laces are secured tightly and, if possible, tucked into the sneaker so they don’t get tangled. 

Review the Rules Before You Go Out

The rules from one family to the next may vary, but whatever yours are, make sure you talk them over with your child before heading out. You can quickly review them or, better yet, ask your child to tell you the rules so you know they’re aware of them. If your child breaks or ignores an important safety rule, have a plan for addressing it (i.e., one warning and then you go home if it happens again). 

A Word From Verywell

It can feel like a big step letting your toddler on a scooter. But remember, with the proper guidance and safety precautions, and they can learn many skills from scootering. Letting them experiment with this type of freedom can be beneficial to their growth, development, and sense of fun all at the same time.

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