Exercise bikes for toddlers? What do you think?

See Fisher-Price Will Battle Childhood Obesity With an Exercise Bike Tablet Holder.

“Your tablet-obsessed kid spending hours on the couch poking at a touchscreen probably isn’t doing their waistline any favors. But instead of wrestling an iPad out of their hands, Fisher-Price wants to help battle childhood obesity with a tablet holder that’s essentially an exercise bike for kids.”

I’ve written about kiddie exercise equipment before. See Sam stirs up a lively debate about kids and treadmills and apologizes. I hate the focus on kiddie weight loss. I hate exercise as drudgery in front of a screen. What good could come of that?

You see my knee jerk reaction is still that kids should put away tablets and play outside. They should run around in the woods and build snow forts and get out of breath playing games. Think ice skating and sledding!

But last year when I said that on our Facebook page lots of fans of the page pointed to the assumptions about class and wealth and safety that claim makes. Not everyone lives in a neighbourhood where kids can play outside. I also heard from people about ableism and the use treadmills might play in the lives of kids with disabilities.

I wrote, “I think I forgot the cardinal rule of being a parent. Never, ever, ever criticize the choices other parents make. I confess I’d kind of forgotten how much shame and blame parents get for their choices. My youngest kids are in their late teens and I tend to forget how judgmental people can be, including me, apparently.”

Go read the rest of that post if you’re interested. There are links to resources about this debate.

So, I’m setting my knee jerk reaction aside. And I’ll ask you what you think. What do you make of exercise bikes for toddlers?

19 thoughts on “Exercise bikes for toddlers? What do you think?

  1. Have you seen the Netflix series Black Mirror? One of the episodes is exactly what came to mind when I saw this “toy”. At the risk of being crucified, I too believe that we need to find ways to be more active in the bodies we are given and spend less time on electronics.

  2. Fisher Price needs a big time out and no screen time for writing this: “,,, your tablet-obsessed kid… probably isn’t doing their waistline any favors”. So toddlers/little kids need to worry about their waistlines now? (Cue screaming and tearing hair out). Checking out the actual story, we see smiling little girls (no boys anywhere in sight, btw) on these exercycles. Bad bad bad modeling for little girls! At least there’s no salad holder for the stationary bike…
    As an aside, the setup looks like an ergonomic mess. How can they get any torque with a sort-of-recumbent configuration but no seatback (sorry, it’s the bike geek talking).

    In short… HATE IT! Bad job, Fisher Price. Go back to making those cute little farms and telephones instead.

    1. You’re shaming the wrong person. That quote was from the author of the Gizmodo article not Fisher Price.

  3. If I just saw a photo of that on the internet, I would just think it was another joke toy like the stripper barbie. I had no idea it was real. As someone without children its easy for me to go into either extreme when it comes to what kids/parents should or should not be doing. I don’t like that the tablet has become the new TV for children, something else to stick their face into because, well… “I had BOOKS!” but I’m not in that situation, I’m not a parent.

    What do I think? I don’t know. Not everyone has options that would allow children to play outside all natural, get sweaty and burn that energy circa 1955 in the good ole days when America was still great ⸮. I barely had that option in 1985 – it just wasn’t safe.

    I think parents should just continue to do the best they can.

  4. Their marketing is horrible. And I believe kids should get out of the house and off the tablet, but I would get this for my son. He is VERY active and will live in a small apartment. I could see him pedaling away his endless energy on this maybe or maybe not watching his favorite show or movie on a rainy day or like now freezing cold day.

  5. It reminds me of my giant orange plastic rocking horse. It was a hoot to rock. We also had jolly jumpers, exersaucers, hoola-hoops, a mini trampoline …all kinds of things that used moving our bodies inside. Even that whirly ball on a stick that is run around the house with.
    Kids play at the things they see adults do. I spin inside on my bike. If my kids were toddlers now they might spin on a toy bike too.
    Not keen on the body shaming ad but other than that it is similar in kind to other body powered things.

  6. It’s not useful to begin body shaming on toddlers themselves.

    Stationary bicycle for a wee toddler ..might help temporarily just for a few months, about pedalling. **** But the reality is that a toddler is learning neurolocomotor skills and balance at a young age that is highly advantageous to an adult because a child has less fear. (ie. learning to ride a bike for toddler is easier than as an adult).

    I would rather the child rolls around inside the house with their feet on the floor, by being astride a pedaless bike or plastic animal. It’s done within the house also. I’m the eldest of 6 children and this is how we helped younger siblings learn to balance on a mobile toy and roam around inside the house. My parents were VERY alert about our safety outdoors. This is back in early 1970’s. My baby sister has plastic large duck with wheels that she sat astride and moved around when she was 2-3 yrs. old. We lived in a 3 bedroom house for…..6 children and 2 adults. Believe me, there are ways to allow activity even when space is tighter.

    I realize that parents are nervous once the child gets outside, there is supervision that is necessary. So cross that bridge later, when everyone is ready….

  7. Picking up on what others have said, there’s nothing wrong with parents who get these to burn off some energy in their kids, and it’s not parent-shaming to point out how incredibly offensive the marketing is (waistline????? not just fat shaming but we care about them having a defined waist??????). I also don’t love modeling for kids the idea that exercise is something that happens on a machine while watching electronics, just because the IRL version is boring AF. But that’s not anything wrong with them moving their legs around on it now.

  8. I think that the idea itself is fine, but the way it’s being sold is frustrating. I’m not a parent, but I can see a lot of uses for this. When it’s dark outside or too cold or for some reason not safe, a bike like this would give your child a chance to move. The tablet bit is probably necessary too, since a lot of children would become quickly bored with stationary biking.

    I could also see it preparing toddlers for “real” bikes as they get older. Lots of potential good for that. But not if you sell it as exercise…

  9. Here’s a followup from a friend who bought one of these for his kid in 2007: “The Fisher-Price Smart Cycle was the most popular toy in 2007. We had one when our son was 3yrs old. It’s designed for toddlers not quite old enough to ride a real bike, and there’s basically no resistance or exercise value. As a parent, I felt I was watching my kid develop a mindless, video-game addition. It’s horrible, and we gave it away.”

    So it doesn’t actually provide exercise; it’s just a place to sit and watch a screen. Yuck.

  10. I tell you what, the title of your post gave me a knee-jerk reaction as well. My first thought was “Jeze, how about kids taking a break from being robots?” But you make some great points in your post. I have a niece who’s a complete wild child, bouncing off the walls from dawn til dusk, and I’ve marveled (a bit uneasily) at the way an iPad or iPhone hits her like a horse tranquilizer, which sure comes in handy! But that glazed, zombie-esque look she gets when “plugged in”… I am torn every time I see it

    1. Some of that may be due to how early she was exposed to it. I have done a lot of reading that suggests that playing on the iPad from a young age (just like watching tv) rewires the brain to “actively” seek out that kind of flashing light, fast paced stimulus to “soothe”.

      1. I believe it. I read it goes against evolution too, the lower “lizard” brain can’t distinguish between threats in reality and video games, so kids’ brains are in a constant state of hyper-stimulation, fight or flight mode. Interesting research to say the least. Happy writing!

  11. I must admit that I saw this and laughed thinking, “Really? How lazy can kids and parents be?” But the point about it not being safe everywhere for kids is a great argument. I like to think that if I was in that situation that I’d try to come up with more creative outlets even if it was in our house besides relying on a screen. But it’s better than nothing!

Comments are closed.