Reviewed by David Ashworth
My youngest daughter is three and often my heartbreaks when I see her near five-year-old sister and nine-year-old brother running off to play confidently and leaving her behind. As her motor skills are still developing, she can often feel restricted or left out when she can’t join in with the activities her older siblings can do with confidence. You can almost feel her sadness, as her little lips begin to wobble and her eyes well up with tears. This is particularly true when her brother and sister are speeding off through the park on their bikes and scooters and she has to trail behind with myself or her mother keeping a firm grasp on her to prevent her veering off into the undergrowth. So I was thrilled when we got to present her with the Hape Balance Wonder wooden balance bike.
The Balance Wonder, for ages 3 and up, really gives your child the confidence to practice balancing and coordination, and the best part is that without those pesky training wheels she really feels like she’s riding her very own ‘big girl bike’ just like her brother and sister.
So let me begin by telling you a little about the Balance Wonder. Like most of Hape’s fantastic products, the Balance Wonder is made from sustainable wood sources and is an incredible piece of craftsmanship. It comes in three parts and is very easy to assemble, the seat is cushioned and also adjustable so it can grow with your child. It comes in neutral colours so is suitable and appealing to both young girls and boys. It’s approximately 60 centimetres long, 48 centimetres tall and weighs around 1.4 kilograms.
The Balance Wonder is a great way to encourage kids to develop their balance and motor skills and a fantastic way to encourage active play in your little ones, it’s also suitable for indoor and outdoor use and can be cleaned quickly and easily with a damp cloth.
As with all Hape products, the Balance Wonder has been thoroughly tested for safety and sustainability. It is a great way to introduce kids to biking and develop the skills they will require early before you give them their first pedal bicycle.
By riding the bike with their feet on the floor, children develop their balance and motor skills as well as increasing their confidence whilst riding, playing and having fun. From there you can encourage them to raise their feet and coast on the bike, teaching them to maintain that balance and steer the bike as they go.
My three year old really took to the balance bike and within seconds she was chasing after her brother and sister with the precision and confidence of a seasoned bicycle rider, by allowing her to keep her feet on the floor she was extremely precise in her movements and seemed to have a real sense of control and stability.
I would like to reiterate how much I adore Hape products. The style of wooden toys and the wonderful design and craftsmanship they put into each of their products is a testament to their commitment to excellence. They are an environmentally friendly company and take the materials they use from sustainable sources only in addition to striving to impact the environment as little as humanly possible. I have reviewed several of their products and bought even more for my kids and always been largely satisfied with what I got.
The Hape Balance Wonder balance bike does encourage and develop several skills that are great for development and confidence and is a good idea as an introduction for younger children before buying them their first real pedal bike.
My daughter loves the bike though and we have seen a great deal of development in her skill and confidence since she has had it.
I give this product four out of five stars, it is great for development but some minor design flaws let this one down a bit (these are due to being a natural wood product with water based paints used):
- can only be wiped down, not washed (scrubbing could take the paint off)
- cannot be left in direct sunlight or in the rain
- has to be stored inside