Signs that it's time
-- Her knees are bumping the handlebars on her trike.
-- She can pedal forward and backward (to brake a big-kid bike).
-- She can steer and control a trike.
Finding the right bike
-- Try it on for size. When your child extends her leg as far as possible on the pedal, her knee should remain slightly bent. If she can't rest her toes on the ground when she takes her feet off the pedals, the seat is too high, says Dan Waggoner, owner of Fremont Cycle & Fitness Center in Fremont, OH.
-- Get wise about wheels. Most kids start out with 16-inch ones, but smaller or shorter children may need 12-inchers so their feet can reach the ground. Training wheels boost some children's confidence, but other kids skip right over them. If you do buy them, make sure they're slightly elevated, to give your child a sense of keeping her balance. If she doesn't like them, just remove them.
Ready to roll!
Most kids can't wait for a new bike, but some are sad to ditch the old one. If yours is, point out the other kids zipping by on two-wheelers, and let her pick a bell, basket, or color to personalize her ride.