The moments of parental pride and joy are numerous, but buying your child's first bike will only be shadowed by their first moments riding that bike and emulating your joy.
Balance bike, push bike, walk-a-bike; whatever you want to call them, they are an awesome way to get your tike out experiencing the pure fun that is riding a bike. Now, if you aren'tt familiar with these types of bikes, you may be wondering what is the purpose of a bike without pedals. The theory behind these bikes is to get a child on a bike at an earlier age with their legs not only propelling and stopping them, but also helping them to learn balance. Once they learn what it takes to keep upright on the bike, they are ready to throw in the pedaling portion and voila! They are riding a bike without ever getting stuck on the training wheels stage, which can hinder many kids' progression because they are scared to ride without them. I understand that you may not want to buy a bike with such limited use; after all, you cannot adapt pedals to them once your child is ready. However, at $90 or less for most brands of balance bikes, it isn't really that bad. Also consider that if there are younger brothers or sisters, they generally don't get abused enough to not work for them too.
The bike I chose for my son is the Li'l Rock't by Sun Bicycles. For a kid at this stage in the biking game there is really only one thing they want: to ride their bike. Sun knew this and designed the Li'l Rock't to meet that demand. Lightweight, solid tires that will never lose air is the best way to keep a kid's bike out of the shop and out in the dirt. While this bike is made of steel, it is light enough to be easily controlled. Also, an adjustable seat and stem will let you adapt the bike as they grow if they are not quite ready for a pedal bike.
While there are some balance bikes that are lighter, more adjustable, or more gender neutral I have been very pleased with the Li'l Rock't. The only thing that worries me is how fast my son has adapted to it and how he loves riding down big hills.