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Basic Tips for Choosing a Bike Helmet for Your Child

Kids having fun on their bikes are always going to crash and fall. However, as parents, there are certain precautions we can take to prevent serious injuries. Choosing the right bike helmet ensures your child's safety against head injuries. This Buzzle article provides simple tips to help parents choose the right bike helmet for their kids.
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Tip to choose a bike helmet
Quick Fact
First passed in 1986, in California, the bicycle helmet law was amended in 1993, to cover all children under the age of 18.
Whether you child is riding a bike, scooter, or skateboard, a bike helmet can prevent head injuries that result from crashes or falls. These safety helmets are not optional. In fact, you should get it while buying your child a bike, and before the child gets on the bike, he/she should be wearing a well-fitted helmet.

However, wearing just about any helmet does not guarantee the safety of the child. It is important for parents to understand the value of buying a helmet that fits properly and meets the safety and performance standards of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). If the helmet is loose and slips from the child's head often, it is likely to hindering his view, which may lead to a crash or fall.

Moreover, loose helmets do not offer enough protection in bike crashes or falls, which in turn, can cause serious head injuries. In this Buzzle article, we provide basic tips that will tell you how to choose a bike helmet for your child.

Should fit properly

Without a proper fit, even the best certified bike helmet may not provide adequate protection. You need to find a helmet with a snug and well-aligned fit that provides maximum comfort. Before buying the helmet, measure your child's head by wrapping a tape measure around the head. Keep a finger-width space above the eyebrow, and encircle the largest area of the head. This measurement provides the basis for choosing a bike helmet.

The helmet should provide maximum cover for the head. It should cover as much as one-inch above the eyes. Check to see if the straps are even and form a "Y" under each earlobe. They should lie flat against the head. Check if your child can comfortably open his mouth while wearing the helmet. If you see the helmet pull down, then the fit is tight enough.

As head shapes and sizes vary, before buying, do check the fit of the helmet by allowing your child to try it on. Once the chin straps are adjusted, it should fit snugly and not move side to side when pushed or pulled. If the child can slide two fingers around his temples inside the helmet, the size is too big. In this case, you need a smaller size, or you may have to attach fit pads to the helmet.

Should meet safety standards

The helmet that you choose should meet the safety standards set by the CPSC (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission). The helmets with ASTM F1492 are usually used as standard specifications for helmets used in skateboarding and trick roller skating. Some people prefer dual certified―CPSC and ASTM―helmets, especially if their child is interested in skateboarding as well. A Snell sticker inside the bike helmet ensures a Snell B90-S and Snell B95 standard certification, which are slightly more stringent than the CPSC standard.

Should be lightweight

If you are choosing helmets for toddlers, then they should definitely be lightweight. Unlike the hard shell bike helmets, soft shell or in-mold helmets are lighter and better suited for a toddler. However, do check for durability and sturdiness, as kids are quite rough on their helmets. Some helmets have vents to keep the head cool by pulling warm air away from the scalp and drying sweat.

Should have a sturdy shell

The most important part of the helmet is the shell. Usually made of sturdy plastic or fiberglass, the hard-shell helmets in the market protect against penetration of sharp objects. The hard cover also holds the polystyrene together if the helmet cracks in a fall or crash. Although they are definitely safer than soft-shell models, the hard-shell bike helmets can be heavy and warm. Instead of a hard outer layer, a soft-shell helmet has a thick layer of polystyrene along with a surface coating or a cloth cover. These helmets may be less durable than the hard-shell versions.

Along with the outer cover, a bike helmet also has extra padding, which features a thick layer of shock absorbent foam that lines the inner portion of the helmet, and provides comfort and protection. Also, check the straps and buckles to ensure that they are durable and strong. If you think that the fasteners might unbuckle easily, then you should look for a different model.

Should be Available in Range of Colors

A bike helmet for a kid should be bright and colorful. For toddlers, you can have cute design elements along with bright colors like pink, blue, and green. You child's favorite cartoon character like Mickey Mouse or Spiderman graphics on the helmet can enthrall your kid. Checkout the Crazy Stuff Childrens Helmets for some cool helmets shaped like bulls, eagles, or even a Chinese dragon. For older kids, checkout helmets with cool graphics such as flames or skulls.

Some good bike helmets for children are:

Giro Me2
Bontrager Little Dipper
Bell Octane
uvex hero
Specialized Flash

The cost of helmets can vary from USD 15 to USD 50. It is not necessary that an expensive helmet is better. Choose a helmet that not only looks good and fits well, but also meets the requisite safety standards. Older helmets and hand-me-downs may not meet the current safety standards. Remember, helmets are good for one crash only, and you will need to replace it after the crash.
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Published: February 19, 2014
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