You’ve already gotten your kid a perfectly sized bike or you’ve spotted one that you want to buy. Now what’s remaining is a good quality helmet to keep them safe.
You can’t just buy any kids’ helmet. It’s essential that they wear the right size not just for comfort when cycling but also for their safety.
The best way to pick the right size is to measure your child’s head.
If you have flexible tape around, it’s easy. Just wrap it around the thickest part of their head; around 1” above their eyebrows.
Note down the circumference of this section and use it to find the right helmet.
If you don’t have flexible tape, wrap a ribbon around their head and then measure the ribbon on a ruler or rigid tape measure.
When shopping for the right helmet, check the manufacturer’s head size specification. It will usually be a size range between two measurements.
Make sure your child’s head circumference falls within that range.
How to tell if the helmet is a good fit
Have your child put on the helmet immediately when it arrives. This is so you can send it back as soon as possible if it’s not the right fit.
The helmet should sit snuggly on the forehead just a bit above the eyebrows. It should be snug without being too tight.
If you can see a big patch of hair on their head, it’s too small. If it covers the eyebrows or comes over the eyes, it’s too big.
Check that it sits completely level on their head. One sign that the helmet is too big or too small is if it tilts backwards or forwards.
The helmet should also not move when they nod their head or walk. Otherwise, it will not provide adequate protection during a fall.
Adjusting for a perfect fit
Don’t give up too soon if the helmet doesn’t fit well. It may just need some adjusting.
All bike helmets have an adjusting mechanism at the back, usually a wheel. The chinstraps should also be adjustable.
Try to adjust these two parts until you get a snug fit.
After adjusting, try moving the helmet with your hands side to side and back and forth.
It shouldn’t move more than an inch. If it does, tighten it up a bit more.
Also check that your child can keep the helmet on for over an hour without complaining that it is pressing on her head.
I suggest a bike ride to test the helmet in real life conditions. If they can ride comfortably with the helmet on, it’s a go.
Sizing by age
Age is not the most accurate way to pick the right helmet size, or bike size for that matter.
That’s because some kids are bigger or smaller for their age. If you can take their head measurement, use that. It’s much more accurate.
If you have to go by age, check the manufacturers recommended age range. When you receive the helmet, test it immediately to make sure it fits.
When to replace the helmet
Kids grow quick so you need to keep adjusting the helmet to keep it snug. Check the fit at least twice a year.
After about a couple of years or whenever you cannot adjust the helmet any wider, it’s time to go a size up.
For kids whose head circumference is wider than 58cm, just get an adult helmet. Their head won’t grow much larger beyond this.