How to Choose a Skateboard for Your Child + Visual Guide


child holding a skateboard

A while ago I was looking to buy a skateboard for my son. I thought about a kid-sized skateboard or maybe just a regular one. Turns out I didn’t need to buy anything custom, my old skateboard was just fine. I only had to replace the wheels and bearings and he was good to go.

When buying a skateboard for your kids make sure that you don’t buy a cheap toy skateboard as they are unsafe. Go to your local skate shop and let them assemble one, or buy a complete skateboard online.  A kid skateboard costs around $70 and up, look for anything between 7″ and 8″ wide and length 27″ to 31″.

picking the right skateboard for your child - infographic

If you don’t have any knowledge about skateboards don’t try to assemble one yourself. Complete setups are fine for kids and you won’t make the mistake of buying incompatible components. The trucks should match the deck’s width and the wheels should fit the trucks while having enough clearance to avoid the wheels to come in contact with the skateboard while steering. Make sure you buy a skateboard that allows for replacing the parts.

I skate with my kid regularly and we tried out a few boards to see what works. I found a couple of affordable skateboards that are safe and affordable, you can check them out here.

A Kid-Size Skateboard Isn’t Always Necessary

If your kid can stand with their legs spread and touch the bolt in front and at the back of the skateboard they should be fine. Kids below 5 years old might have a harder time reaching the bolt without almost doing a split. I’m not convinced that a kid-sized skateboard is really necessary but they do help. You see many young kids on adult-sized skateboards and they are fine.

The pros of a kid-sized skateboard are that they provide for more room when pushing the board. A wider deck requires a child to move their feet a bit more to the outside. They can hit the side of the deck while pushing. Once they start learning to steer a kid skateboard is beneficial. It’s easier for them to understand how to steer as the board is more responsive.

On wider and bigger boards kids compensate by bending their knees more and keep their center of gravity low. I think it’s more of a marketing thing, but that’s just my personal opinion. My kid did way better on a normal size skateboard than on a smaller board. Normal size skateboards are around 27″ to 31″ in length which isn’t even that big. As for width anything between 7.0″ and 8.0″ is recommended.

Child Skateboard Size Chart

Skateboard size chart for kids, my chart is different than most out there because of my personal experience. Anything between a width of 7.5″ and 8.0″ is fine for kids aged 6 years and older.

Kids age, height, and proper skateboard size
Age Kid height Skateboard width
5 or under 3’4 or under 6.5″ to 7.0″
6 to 8 3’5 to 4’4 7.0″ to 8.0″
9-12 4’5 to 5’2 7.5″ to 8.0″
13 and over 5’3 or over 8.0″ and over

What Is a Good Age for Kids to Start Skateboarding?

Kids under 5 years old shouldn’t skateboard generally speaking. Make sure you supervise your kid and stay close. It’s not just me, professional doctors actually advise not to let kids skateboard below the age of 5. Many skateboarders will disagree with me but better safe than sorry. Besides, there’s no harm in waiting a year or so. You might also want to consider getting a skateboard yourself and enjoy skating with your kid.

It’s a fun activity to do with your kid and I always have a blast with my son. It may help that I’ve been skateboarding for a while, but many people start skateboarding over the age of 30. If you’re considering getting a skateboard yourself and are completely new, get a cruiser board.

Cruiser boards provide stability and a smooth ride because of the big soft wheels and larger deck surface.  It will also help in teaching your kid to skateboard as you get some experience yourself. So c’mon mom and dad, you’re never too old to learn skateboarding!

Skateboarding at the Age of 3 Isn’t Recommended.

To be honest, skateboarding isn’t recommended at this age the muscles haven’t really developed yet and especially the neck muscles are weak. If you do want to get one make sure you always stay near year kid at all times.

Make them wear protective gear, though it’s hard to get something in such a small size. Still, it’s better to wait for a year or 2 until they hit the age of 5. Their legs are too small so you have to buy a smaller skateboard and after a year or two you have to get another one.

4 Years Old Is Still a Bit Young for Skateboarding

Still a bit young, but when they reach the end of age 4 you could think about getting them a skateboard. Get the smallest junior-sized protective set and buy them a helmet. If you have a bike helmet laying around, you can use that too. At this age, they either can ride an adult-sized- or a kid-sized skateboard.

If they can place their feet on the bolts on top of the board while still being able to stand a normal size board is fine. If not you have to go for something smaller, it really depends on how tall your child is. There are many 4-year olds that skateboard when you look at Youtube. Often they are really talented and get guidance from professional skaters, not really the average child.

Skateboarding at the Age of 5 Is Recommended

This is a proper age for kids to start skateboarding. Their motor skills are better developed and their muscles are strong enough. You still should stay close to them at all times, and make them wear protective gear. You can either pick a smaller sized skateboard are just a regular one as long as the width is between 7.5″ and 8.0″  you’re fine.

Don’t worry about the length, it’s not important. My kid started out on an 8.0″ board but, last summer I got him a smaller board with softer wheels.

6 Years Old and Above

My kid is 6 years old at the moment and he just started skateboarding. He picks up skateboarding fast and from my personal experience, this is the best age to start. They have a bit more patience and a bit more focus. He used my old skateboard at first and later I got him a smaller board. Regular size or kid-sized.

It’s really up to you, either is fine but a bigger board provides more stability at the beginning, a smaller board is more responsive. My son started out on an adult-sized board and I recently got him a kid-sized skateboard. It took some time but he’s getting used to it and is about to learn to steer.

Complete Skateboard or Assemble One Yourself?

You can assemble a skateboard yourself and buy the cheapest parts from different places or get a complete setup to save you time. Also, if you just select the parts and expect them all to fit together you might get disappointed. Trucks need to match the width of the skateboard deck and the wheels need to fit the trucks.

If the wheels are too big they come in contact with the deck while steering which causes your child to fall over. There’s also the matter of hardness of wheels. Harder wheels are better for flat smooth surfaces like concrete skate parks and softer wheels are better for street, asphalt.

With so many options available it’s easy to get lost and buy the wrong parts. If you’re not familiar with skateboarding you probably just look at your kids favorite color and try to match a deck that looks attractive. While that’s perfectly ok, it’s important to make sure the parts fit together.

Just like when you are, for example, looking for replacement PC parts everything has to be compatible. A desktop hard drive won’t fit a laptop.  I’ve selected a few skateboards that are perfect for kids and won’t cost too much depending on your budget. They are pre-assembled and have matching components.  It’ll save you a lot of time and you won’t buy the wrong parts.

Unless you want to dive into all the different components and what fits well together, just get a complete setup which is pre-assembled. It will also save you the trouble of applying the grip tape to the deck, which is difficult if you do it for the first time. You don’t want any air bubbles or the grip tape to peel up at the edges.

For Your Kid’s Safety, Don’t Buy One at a Toy Store

I already wrote a post about why you shouldn’t buy a Walmart or Target skateboard. They are made out of cheap materials and can break easily. It may seem appealing because they’re really cheap but you’re not doing anyone a favor. A good skateboard outlasts a cheap one by tenfold, probably more. Cheap skateboards are unsafe and your kid can get injured when a wheel, or truck breaks.

If you don’t know the difference between a toy skateboard and a real one remember this:

  • They always come as a complete setup, decks wheels, trucks and grip tape.
  • The deck is usually a bit thicker than real skateboards
  • They are often quite heavy.
  • The wheels hardly spin and stop rotating within 1 or 2 seconds, they also make a lot of noise.

Recommended skateboards

Team positive skateboard

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

You can actually get a decent skateboard at a reasonable price. One of the most recommended skateboards is the Positive Team skateboard. This board was tested by a couple of pro skaters and the outcome was very ahem, positive. It’s one of the cheapest quality starter skateboards and fine for kids and adults. You can check prices on Amazon.

santa cruze complete skateboard for kids

Another option is getting a kids sized skateboard, like the one my son rides. I picked this Santa Cruz Skateboard (Amazon link) for kids. This is a great skateboard with quality components. Santa Cruz is one of the oldest skateboard brands and makes quality boards.

The OJ wheels are perfect for street skateboarding, the soft wheels deal well with rough surfaces and can handle small rocks and twigs. The added bonus is that the soft wheels don’t make so much noise and reduce vibration. I highly recommend this board but it’s a bit more expensive, note that the graphics may be different, like this Spongebob version on Amazon.  Check here for prices.

Powell Golden Dragon 2

The Santa Cruz is rather expensive and for a bit less you can get a decent skateboard like the Powell Golden Dragon 3 (link to Amazon). There’s also a version available that comes with full protective gear and a dual certified skate helmet. It’s a chunk of money but you will have everything you need, plus the helmet is the best you can get. Check for prices on Amazon.

custom kids skateboard

Want something custom? Your kid’s name on a skateboard? SkateXS offers custom boards for both boys and girls in various designs. They make their boards from bamboo which is durable and more environmentally friendly. Not cheapest skateboards, but one of the few that offers custom skateboards specifically designed for kids. Check prices on Amazon. 

 

skateboard with lights

Your last option is a plastic skateboard. If you’re unsure if your kid actually likes skateboarding, this is a cheap and safe option.  These plastic boards are usually about 22″ and cost between 30 and 40 USD. They come in all sorts of colors and some even have lights embedded in the wheels that charge themselves. Check them out on Amazon here. 

Avoid Mini Decks

Mini decks are the smallest skateboards available and usually are sold in toy stores. They look cute but will end up unused collecting dust. They don’t provide any stability and I think they are dangerous. I’ve got one from a friend when my son was born. It was a nice gift but we never used it.

It makes a fun photo though, showing how disproportionate it actually is. You can see me standing on the mini-deck and I locked it to a patch of grass preventing it from slipping, it was kind of scary. I even replaced the wheels and bearings but it didn’t help to increase stability. It’s a fun prop though.

Adult on a mini sized skateboard.

How Much Does It Cost

It depends. Most kids just want to cruise and aren’t ready to do tricks. You don’t have to go all out and for around $60 to $85 you can get a decent skateboard with proper parts. The cheapest won’t be top-notch components but it’s fine for kids, and beginners in general. Most skateboarders start out on a budget.

Once you get used to skateboarding you often can judge what you like and what you don’t and buy new components that match your style of skateboarding.

Here’s What a Skateboard Is Made Of

To educate you a little on what a skateboard consists of, take a look at the image and the list below. All parts can be replaced once they start to wear down.

Skateboard components

  • A 7-ply maple wooden deck. Compressed together in a mold.
  • Grip tape to prevent slipping off the deck
  • The T-shaped trucks that carry the wheels. The truck consists of a baseplate which attached the truck to the deck, bushings that allow making turns, and the truck hanger that holds it all together.
  • The wheels obviously.
  • Bearings to make the wheels spin.
  • Spacers to protect the bearings from damage.
  • Bolts to attach the trucks
  • Optionally riser pads to increase the height between the wheels and the deck or just for dampening.

Take good care of a skateboard

There’s not much maintenance in general but looking after a skateboard will prolong its lifespan. Don’t let the board get wet and don’t throw it around carelessly as it might damage and chip the deck. Don’t leave it outside, most and rain are detrimental for the bearings and wooden deck. The deck will get waterlogged, loses its flexibility, becomes heavy and the worst thing is delamination.

Delamination means that the glue that holds the wooden layers together will get affected causing the wooden layers to split.  The bearings will rust causing the wheels to lose their spin, not to mention the annoying noise it makes. Just keep it a dry place, and don’t leave it in the trunk of your car.

You can clean the bearings once every 4 months with nail polish remover for example and use some Bones speed cream as lubrication. You could also just buy a new set as they aren’t that expensive. Just make sure you don’t use WD-40.

Wheels can last a very long time, to make them last longer you can swap them around.  Swap the left rear wheel with the right front wheel and swap the right rear wheel with the left front.

Skateboarding Is a Ton of Fun and a Healthy Exercise

Skateboarding is a healthy exercise. Kids get to do some physical activity which is important when they grow up. It strengthens their muscles and improves motor skills. Kids watch too much TV and play games too often these days. Some exercise that’s fun and spending some time outside is great. It takes a lot of balance and is rather technical and a good way to make new friends.

You might be worried about their safety which is understandable, but it’s quite safe actually. Just make sure they wear at least a helmet and monitor them closely. You could consider going to a skate park when they progressed a little. Just don’t hijack the park and stick to skateboarder etiquette, respect the skaters and the will respect you.

Go early in the morning when it’s less crowded so your kid won’t feel too intimidated. Ask some of the girls and guys there to help your kid, many love to give tips and pointers! Even if you’re not really interested in skateboarding it’s just fun to watch your kid enjoying himself.

Specialized Skateboards for Kids

There are skateboards just for kids and it’s something to consider if your kid is below the age of 10. As long as your kid doesn’t have to make a full split when standing on a skateboard and adult size is fine. Smaller decks help because it’s less likely to hit the sidewall or wheels because the deck is less wide.

santa cruz kids skateboard size comparison

Kids on bigger boards often compensate by assuming a crouch-like position and keeping their center of gravity low. They get used to it. You might also come across Penny boards. I got one at home but my son had a hard time balancing and staying on the board, avoid them.

I replaced the bushings (rubbers attached to the trucks that make the deck turn) and tightened the trucks, but it didn’t help much. This is also why I’m convinced that a normal or kid-sized board is better as they have a larger surface to maintain balance.

Second-Hand Skateboard? Know What to Look For!

If you can, buy a second hand one. but be careful, some of these second-hand skateboards may have worn down without you noticing. Decks can get waterlogged, bearings may be full of dust, rust, and dirt and the wheels could show signs of flat spots. Just spin the wheels and see if they rotate for a while. Anything under 4 seconds means the bearings need replacement.

It could also be a cheap skateboard pretending to be a pro deck. It’s hard to notice the difference if you don’t know what to look for, a skateboard is a skateboard, right?

  • Check if the deck is waterlogged and shows signs of delamination.
  • Check for dirt and rust on the bearings. These can be replaced easily but allows you to bargain.
  • If the board is chipped, move on.
  • If the tail (back of the skateboard) is sharp don’t buy it. Razor tails can cause deep cuts.
  • Spin the wheels and see if they keep rotating for a while.
  • Ask the guy to stand on it and lean forward and backward. If it makes weird sounds the bushings need to be replaced.
  • Make sure the grip is still in good condition!

Loose grip razor tail skateboard deck

Peel off grip tape, sharp (razor) tail, and delamination. 

Replacing Skateboard Parts

So I’m pretty familiar with skateboarding and know when it’s time to replace a skateboard deck. If your kids tell you they need a new deck, don’t immediately dismiss it. Often parents say “you have a skateboard and you don’t need a new one”. That’s not always the case. A good skateboard deck is made out of maple wood and wears down.

The back of the skateboard can get sharp (razor tail) and the skateboard can get chipped. You can usually keep a board until it wears down, but at some point, parts have to be replaced. The tails get really sharp which can cause deep cuts, the grip loses it eh…grip and bearings and wheels have to be replaced at some point.

Don’t worry though, it’s usually just the deck that needs to be replaced and if you look closely you can get decks really cheap. Blank decks, for example, can be bought for about $15 to $20. They’re just as good as a deck with a fancy print. The downside is that it doesn’t really help skateboarding companies develop new technologies.

The graphics are used to pay for contests, sponsoring professional skateboarders, and most importantly develop new tech. I’ll leave that decision up to you, but I think it’s important to mention. You can always negotiate with your kid to do some chores for a while if he or she really wants a deck with nice graphics.

Protective Gear for Kids

I know you’re only looking for a skateboard but it worries me that parents often forget to buy protective gear. In my local skate park, there are tons of scooter kids and 95% of them are not wearing any kind of protection. I just don’t understand why their parents won’t buy them a helmet and some knee pads.

It’s not even that expensive, you don’t need heavy-duty protective gear but make sure to get something that fits and won’t slide off. Here’s a link to my recommended protective gear sets for kids page, and most importantly, a quality helmet. Don’t cheap out on helmets!

I already gave away a bunch of old elbow pads which I told them were knee pads (they’re small enough to offer at least some knee protection). I guess their parents have no idea what they do when they’re out there. Some of them are just fearless and pull off crazy jumps, without their parents realizing.

This reminds me of myself when I was younger. I used to ride a BMX when I was about 10 years old and found a track nearby. I just went for it and tried to get as much speed as possible to make a huge jump. It didn’t end well and got hurt pretty bad, I just wasn’t able to see the danger in what I was doing. After that, I got more careful.

So get at least some basic protective gear, just get a set containing elbow- knee- pads and wrist guards, but most importantly get your kid a helmet. If you want your kid to actually wear the helmet, make sure it’s a comfortable one.

kid wearing protective skateboard gear

Shoe Size and Deck Size, Does It Matter?

Don’t buy into this, it’s just snake oil. The size of shoes is irrelevant in most cases. If you get normal sized deck kids will be fine. Check out my kid ‘skating’ on an adult size skateboard, I think a bigger board actually helps him find his balance. It only matters when skaters are really tall and heavy, it’s just personal preference.

Type of Shoe Matters

You don’t have to buy shoes designed for skateboarding but I would recommend it. At least something that offers some flexibility and allows the feet to feel the skateboard. A pair of sneakers is fine when your kid starts skateboarding. My son is wearing a pair of converse in the picture above and thee are fine for now.

Once he starts to try ollies (jumping with a skateboard) I’ll get him some proper shoes. The deck’s grip will wear these shoes down so you’ll need some suede shoes to last them longer.

Once they progress and get better, consider buying a pair of real skate shoes from brands like Vans, Es, Lakai, etc but avoid brands like Nike, Adidas, and New Balance. These brands don’t do anything for the sport (or art as some skateboarders call it), they don’t develop new tech that skate brands do.

Often they’re more fashionable than functional. I’m actually wearing Nike’s on the mini-deck photo, it was a gift and they are too narrow causing my feet to hurt.

Summary

There’s nothing more I can tell other than providing a brief overview of this post. You don’t need a kid-size skateboard, a normal one is fine, and don’t buy a mini-deck. Make sure your child isn’t too young, wait until they’re about 5 years old. Avoid toy stores and if possible visit your local skate shop or else buy something online.

Buy a second-hand skateboard if you want but pay close attention to the condition it’s in. Make sure your kids wear proper protective gear at all times and stay with your kid when they are still at a very young age. Do yourself a favor and buy a complete without the hassle of going through all to components and becoming an expert in skateboard parts. Shoes should be suitable for skateboarding and help provide stability.

Ruben Vee

I 'm an aged skateboarder, but I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago and I'm out there whenever I can.

Recent Content

Subscribe to My Newsletter

Sign up to my newsletter and receive the latest news and updates from SkateboardersHQ.com.