The very first thing to consider when biking with kids is their safety. Are they safe in the environment and do they have the equipment they need to keep them safe? Right at the top of the equipment list is the right kids bike helmet. A helmet that will protect their head when they ride a bike or are on a kids bike seat or in a trailer.
Make sure you get the protection that your child needs and you are paying for by having the right kids bike helmet. A helmet that fits, they will wear, a helmet that is adjusted and worn correctly so it will remain over there head in an impact.
For the helmet to work it needs to fit their head size.
There is no compromising on fit of a helmet. You don’t get to buy one that they grow into. It must fit the size of their head at the time of riding. It is not as bad as it sounds, our heads do not grow like our feet, you do not go through helmet sizes like shoe sizes. We are born with quite big heads and it is probably the part of our body that grows the least. From a sizing point of view your child will only likely need 3-4 different helmet sizes in their time of biking from a toddler through to an adult. Because of this you may find the need for a new helmet due to wear and tear and the need for a larger sized helmet co-inside.
- Kids Sizes – Helmets come in different kids sizes. Within each of these sizes there is a range of head circumferences that fit that size e.g. XS kids helmet should = a head circumference of 45- 49, and go up from there to approximately 57cm then you are into adult sized helmets. The size range will differ between brands.
To find your childs head size measure their head circumference place a tape measure around your head 1 cm above your eyebrows and make sure the tape is level all the way around the head. Take the measurement in cm. If you don’t have a tape measure use string or wool then lie this along a ruler, then match the helmet to this size
For the helmet to work it needs to be safe.
All Bike helmets sold in New Zealand need to comply to a safety Standard. So it doesn’t matter what the cost or style of the helmet if it is sold in New Zealand it will comply to the minimum standard.
We think there is more to consider when it comes to safety
- At goRide we believe one of the most important safety features to consider when purchasing is the shape of the bike helmet. We suggest a shape that gives you good head coverage and is smooth and round like your skull/head.
Read what the Helmet Safety Institute recommends:
- The more of the head that is covered by the helmet the better (consider the head as starting from the bump at the top of the back of the neck, around the top of the ears and to the top of the eyebrows. The rest really is your face).
- They prefer the more round smooth style helmet , basically round like your head. No protrusions. Being round with no protrusions it will slide better along a surface, reducing the peak forces with sudden stopping and isolated points of impact from protruding shapes also reducing the risk of snagging. All factors that may result in a head and/or neck injury.
Other considerations for safety is the reflective capacity of the Helmet. A bright colour and reflective strips can help to make YOUR child be more visible. Helmets are now availbale in some fun funky colours and help you to be seen.
For a helmet to work it needs to be worn. The helmet needs to be comfortable on their head and if they like the look or the graphics this can help.
Kids are not always keen to wear a bike helmet. Often all they have had on their head is either a warm woolly hat or a sun hat. Now you expect them to be open to putting on a funny looking heavy hat and then securing it with a chin strap… So out comes the push away hand, the tears and the screams and you thought this was meant to be fun. If they are at an age where they can understand you can try to explain and rationalise the importance but basically you just need to get them used to the helmet and the feeling of a helmet on their head.
Good role modeling also plays a part here. The strong association of riding a bike and wearing a helmet comes from you and any older siblings or cousins they may have. If you have a positive attitude to your helmet they will see this. No helmet, no riding on a bike. It’s a simple rule. Expose them to the helmet before you try to take them for a ride or they go for their first ride. Put your helmet on first then try them. If they are not ready the first time, try to be patient, put the helmet somewhere they can see it, give it a few days and try again. Keep exposing it to them until they are comfortable wearing it. Knowing they are comfortable and happy in their helmet gives you peace of mind and means there is one less thing to think about when you are out there enjoying your ride together.
What will help your child want to wear their bike helmet? This will be different for different kids. You will know them best and what features will help you achieve this important step to protecting their head.
- Weight of the helmet – Remember the early days of having a new born and helping them support their head as they developed the strength to hold it up themselves. Putting a bike helmet on your child’s head adds weight to their head. Therefore they will need the strength to support their head and the helmet. So the weight of the helmet is important. You will need to consider a lighter helmet the younger they are and if they are going to be on the bike for long periods of time.
- Points of rubbing – If the helmet causes irritation by rubbing, tension or pressure it is unlikely that your child will be as keen to wear it. This could be an adjustment issue or maybe they need to just become more familiar with the feel of wearing a helmet. However, there are some kids head shapes that do not suit certain bike helmets and you may need to try a different style of helmet.
- Ventilation – The foam liner is an insulator, so it does get hot under a bike helmet. Kids do seem to often suffer from hot and sweaty heads, some more so than others, so getting a helmet with good temperature regulation through ventilation holes/vents may be important.
Colour & graphics – Will getting a helmet on their head be easier if they love their helmet? Having a connection to their helmet may help with their desire to goRide. Do they have a favourite colour or a theme that they have a passion for? Their choice of that “favourite” thing can change so be thoughtful about your decision here. Maybe a helmet that you can change the look of – like the Egg Helmets that come with removable skins may be a good choice here.
Measurement for Helmet size.
Shape of the helmet smooth and round with good head coverage
Multisport Helmet with changeable graphics- skins
For the helmet to work it needs to be match the type of riding your child does.
This only applies if your child is involved in multiple impact sports like biking and skiing then you may want to consider a multisport helmet (a helmet that can be used for different sports). Give consideration to the fact that the materials used in different helmets are designed for the specific type of impacts sustained in that sport. Hence it is difficult for one helmet to be as effective over the different type of impacts in different sports.
If considering a helmet for an older child then you need to ask yourself if are they recreational riding or are they starting to do more high- performance riding – They may be starting to do jumps, a lot downhill mountain biking, starting to test their riding capabilities then you may need to consider an adults high-performance bike helmet.
For the helmet to work it needs to be secure and adjusted correctly.
You have the right sized helmet, you have the helmet on your child’s head. Job done…. No! That bike helmet will not perform and protect their head unless the straps are adjusted and fitted correctly on your child’s head. The straps help the helmet to stay on and over their head in an impact.
There are different straps on different helmets but most commonly for bike helmets you have 2 straps attaching to each side of the helmet that come together forming a ‘V’ below the ears and are secured under the chin.
Adjust using the 2v2 rule.
- 2 – the helmet should sit level on the head. The front of the helmet should sit no more than 2 finger breadths above the eyebrows.
- v – the side straps make a V with the adjustable clip forming the bottom of the V just below the ear lobe.
- 2 – you should be able to get a maximum of 2 fingers under the chin strap when fastened. The straps should not be twisted
Now a quick pre-ride check , yes a helmet check that you do before your child goRides
- is it level – around the head, no tilting
- is it low – sitting just above the eyebrows
- is it snug – does it fit snug not tight on your head, are the v clips snug below your ears and is the chin strap snug under your chin
- is it stable – use the palm of your hand to check forward, backward, side to side movement, the movement should be no greater than 2cm
LEVEL, LOW, SNUG, STABLE
Chin clips – Chin straps offer potential for disaster…I know what I’m doing around a helmet yet I have still managed to pinch the skin of my toddler into a chin strap. This is a really unpleasant experience for everyone involved. So how to avoid this? Get them to look up to the sky so that it stretches their skin flat and gives you a better look at what you are doing. There is a helmet on the market (Egg Helmet) designed specifically for kids that does not have a clip under the chin. The chin strap inserts into either side of the helmet so you know for certain that there is no risk of a skin pinch.
For the helmet to work it must not be damaged.
Most bike helmets do not respond well to being thrown on the ground, stood on or run over. Damage to bike helmets is not always visible to the human eye, so the best piece of advice is take care of your bike helmet. Have a process of care in place, like – you must not drop your helmet. When you are finished using your helmet store it in ‘this’ safe place (that is not hanging over the handlebars of their bike). It is important to check for damage to the straps clips, shell and inner foam of the helmet, especially if the helmet is not “treated with care”. See 3 Top Tips for Helmet Care for more information. A bike helmet is designed specifically for the type of impacts that are received when riding a bike.
get Safe and goRide – The right kids bike helmet
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