We all want to keep our kids safe and when it comes to cycling, skating or scooting this means choosing the right helmet and fitting it correctly. But how can you navigate the wide variety of options on the market? And even when you’ve chosen that perfect, cool helmet which your kid loves, how sure can you be that your child is fitting it correctly?
Why Should Kids Wear Helmets?
Bicycle injuries are the most common cause of serious head injury in children according to many studies, including the Orthopaedic Nursing Research. The only way to prevent these is to wear a helmet while cycling, scooting or skating.
Helmets do work. What has proven difficult is getting the riders to wear them, as found by the American Public Health Association. And like all good habits, wearing a helmet is a routine that needs to start as early as possible.
How Can You Get Your Kid to Wear a Helmet?
Consider this scenario:
Saturday morning: all dressed up and ready to go to the park and test our kid’s new shiny cool bike. He even participated in choosing the helmet which was surprising, since he never seems to want to wear anything on his head. We get there, ride for 5 minutes and then I notice he’s already taken his helmet off.
Does this story sound familiar? You’re not alone!
While research shows that helmets use rates have been rising, these rates among children are still quite low. Less than one fifth of the kids who rode bicycles wore helmets all or more than half of the time.
Behaviour change is quite difficult to accomplish and is not done just by providing information, regardless of how well this information is delivered. Other tools need to be used such as:
Attitudes and Beliefs
- Consider how much your boy or girl believes you about the potential of risk associated to riding without a helmet. Expand your conversations with them in this area and think of other ways that they can internalize the dangers of no helmet cycling, scooting or skating;
- Your kid might also not believe that helmets are really effective. Consider ways in which you can change this;
- The "nerd factor” and peer pressure are other factors to consider. Does your boy or girl believe that it is not cool to wear a helmet? Can this be changed, perhaps by choosing a helmet they like and their friends would admire?
Such messages need to be repeated over time in different contexts and in different ways. Having reinforcers, for example a repeated mention from the paediatrician of the value of helmets could help immensely.
Last but not least, the personal example: are you wearing a helmet yourself? It goes without saying that your kid will repeat your behaviour which needs to be consistent with your discourse. Asking your boy or girl to put on a helmet while you are not wearing one will not help and they will not listen!
What is the Safety Certification Standard Which Helmets Should Comply With?
This is not a simple question. Each country has their own standard and different countries have different standards for different sports.
UK Sports Helmet Safety
Although Brexit will bring some uncertainty in this area, at the moment the UK is aligned with the European Union standard EN1078:2012- Helmets for pedal cyclists and for users of skateboards, non-electric scooters and roller skates.
The standard's key features are:
- Test anvils: Flat and kerbstone
- Drop apparatus: Guided free fall
- Impact velocity, energy or drop height flat anvil: 5.42–5.52 m/s
- Impact energy criteria: < 250g
- Roll-off test: Yes
- Retention system strength: Force applied dynamically. Helmet supported on headform
If you are interested to find out more about what the actual tests EN1078:2012 comprise of, here is a good summary put together by SATRA Technology.
US Sports Helmet Safety
As far as the US is concerned, there are two certifications to look for:
CPSC: helmets for bicycles, non-electric scooters, roller skates;
ASTM F1492: helmets for skateboards.
One final remark in this area: many of our customers have found quite a large numbers of helmets being sold on the UK market which are not safety certified. By law, any helmet sold in the EU must be tested, certified and a clear marking must be placed on the helmet before it is put on the market in the EU, such as the one below.
Please stay vigilant and check before buying a helmet.
Our kids’ safety is paramount!
All our helmets are EN1078 (European Standard) and CPSC (American Standard) certified.
Kid Bike Helmet Sizes: What Size Helmet Does My 3 Year Old Need?
Have you ever asked yourself: What size helmet does my 3 year old need? This is not the right question to ask!
It is very tempting to try and find a chart that correlates the age to the helmet size.
Many such charts exist, however, please bear in mind that each child grows at his/ her own rate, so it's always recommended to check the child's head circumference. Typical head size at 12 months is 46 cm, but this is an average number and all children are different.
How Do You Measure a Child for a Bike Helmet?
When measuring the circumference, you will find that most children are between 48 and 58 centimetres.
Our helmet sizes are as follows:
Final Note: It is not advisable to purchase our helmets if the circumference of the child's head is less than 48 cm!
How to Tell if My Kid’s Bike Helmet Fits Correctly
Any helmet must fit properly to be effective. With a proper fit, the helmet will not move back and forth or side to side while fastened.
In order to fit a helmet correctly there are a few elements to consider:
To check for the proper tension, put on the helmet and fasten the buckle. Open your mouth, you should feel the strap pulling against your chin.
Then attempt to pull the helmet of the front or rear. If the helmet comes off, increase strap tension and check adjustment dial is tight enough. The helmet should not be able to roll forward or backward excessively. It should not be possible to remove the helmet without unfastening the buckle.
NOTE: You will need to check adjustment every time the helmet is worn and DO NOT modify or remove any original component parts of the helmet.
- Retention System
Each helmet should have a specific release/ retention system, i.e. the buckles. The release buckles should allow you to do a quick release and you should be able to buckle and unbuckle without changing the adjustment. The straps must be snugly and evenly tensioned. Place the helmet firmly on your head and fasten the buckle.
Notice which strap is loose. Tighten the loose strap after removing the helmet. To tighten the chin strap, hold the buckle with one hand. Then pull the excess strap in through.
To tighten the rear strap, pull excess from the rear of strap 2. Hold the helmet with one hand. With the other hand, hold the strap where they pass under your chin. Then pull from side to side to balance the length of all four straps.
The helmet must sit firmly and level on your head. To lower the front of the helmet to cover your forehead, tighten the chin strap and loosen the rear strap. To raise the front, loosen the chin strap and tighten the rear strap.
- Adjusting Dial
Always choose a helmet which has an adjusting dial- this will ensure a suitable fit.
Adjusting Dial fit: Place the helmet on your head. Turn the ring clockwise until the headband is firm, yet comfortable. If you need to loosen the headband, TAKE THE HELMET OFF, turn the ring counter clockwise. All fit adjustments must be made with the helmet in the proper position. Failure to do so will result in a poor fit. A poor fit will allow the helmet to move out of position or come off in an accident.
If you cannot adjust your helmet to fit as required, DO NOT USE THE HELMET. Replace it with the proper size.
- Final Check:
The important thing to remember is that the helmet fits snugly. If you can tilt it forward or backward, you need to tighten the strap adjustment.
The straps should be positioned so that they do not cover the ears and that the buckle is away from the jaw when correctly fitted.
All adjustments should be checked each time the helmet is worn, making sure it fits snugly at all times.
And finally, replace the helmet when it is damaged, outgrown or at least every five years. You may need to replace it sooner if the manufacturer recommends it.
Should You Buy Different Helmets for Different Types of Sports?
Cycling, Scooting, Skating, Skateboarding, Electric Tricycles and Other Electric Ride-on Devices
This is another tricky question and the answer will depend surprisingly enough on location!
As mentioned in our Certification Guide above, there are different standards applied in different countries.
Choosing a Helmet for Cycling, Scooting, Skating or Skateboarding in the UK
In the UK the standard for helmets used in cycling, skating, skateboarding and scooting is CE EN1078, which means one standard for all these sports.
In theory you might think that you could choose an EN1078 safety certified cycling helmet and use it for all these activities.
In reality, you might want to pay particular attention to skateboarding, which is a more aggressive type of sport and would require a wider protection, so a helmet which covers a larger part of the head, at the back.
So while you might choose this type of helmet below for cycling, you probably should not use it for skateboarding as well:
On the other hand, if you choose this helmet below for skateboarding, that will also work perfectly fine for cycling or scooting:
Choosing a Helmet for Cycling, Scooting, Skating or Skateboarding in the US
As far as the US is concerned, there are two separate certifications to look for:
CPSC: helmets for bicycles, non-electric scooters, roller skates;
ASTM F1492: helmets for skateboarding.
To sum up, there are three main things to consider:
- Is the helmet certified?
- Does it have the right shape for the type of sport which the kid will use it for?
- Have you matched the kid’s head circumference to the sizes available?
Last but not least, be mindful about behaviour. You know what they say: 100% is easier than 99%, which means that if a helmet is worn at all times without exception, it will become second nature, On the other hand, if you leave room for exceptions, then these will become more and more often.
Go safe, stay cool!