By Michelle LaRowe
Whether you are teaching your child to ride a tricycle in your driveway or are headed out for a morning ride along a local bike path (check out http://parks.westchestergov.com/trailways for great biking trails in Westchester County), it’s important to take steps to ensure bicycle safety.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends these bicycle safety tips
1. Do not push your child to ride a 2-wheeled bike until he or she is ready, at about age 5 or 6. Consider the child’s coordination and desire to learn to ride. Stick with coaster (foot) brakes until your child is older and more experienced for hand brakes.
2. Take your child with you when you shop for the bike, so that he can try it out. The value of a properly fitting bike far outweighs the value of surprising your child with a new one. For more information on finding the proper fit, go to http://www.aap.org/family/bicycle.htm#choosing .
3. Buy a bike that is the right size, not one your child has to “grow into.” Oversized bikes are especially dangerous.
4. Your child needs to wear a helmet on every bike ride, no matter how short or how close to home. Many accidents happen in driveways, on sidewalks, and on bike paths, not just on streets. Children learn best by observing you. Set the example: Whenever you ride, put on your helmet.
5. When purchasing a helmet, look for a label or sticker that says the helmet meets the CPSC safety standard.
6. A helmet protects your child from serious injury, and should always be worn. And remember, wearing a helmet at all times helps children develop the helmet habit.
7. A helmet should be worn so that it is level on the head, not tipped forwards or backwards. The strap should be securely fastened, and you should not be able to move the helmet in any direction. If needed, the helmet’s sizing pads can help improve the fit.
If your child in the care of a nanny, be sure she is educated about bicycle safety and committed to keeping your child safe while enjoying time on his bike ride