Finding appealing bike helmets for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers can be challenging. Here are some of the Totcycle favorites so far:
Lazer Infant Helmet
Fitting helmets on infants or smaller-headed toddlers is very hard to do with commonly available helmets. Sure, the models most mainstream shops stock have an adjustable fit dial in the back, but the helmets themselves are quite large on my 1yo son, and protrude enough in the back that trailer riding becomes an exercise in frustration, with the helmet getting pushed down onto his face.
Enter the Lazer infant helmet ($25), via Longleaf Bicycles. It fits heads as small as 46cm, doesn't look horrible, and was easy to adjust. Luc and I liked it, and were so sad that it got lost in the great Amtrak cargo bike debacle of 2010. Now he's stuck with some pink Strawberry Shortcake sister hand-me-down.
Bern helmets are the Totcycle family favorite. Mom, dad, and daughter are currently sporting lovely Bern helmets with built-in fabric visors. Poor visor-less & emasculated son. A new helmet would probably be cheaper than all that therapy he'll need.
Bern helmets are sleek, light, comfortable, have excellent coverage, and are refreshingly lacking in extraneous vents for vents sake. Why look like a roadie if you don't have to? They come in summer and winter versions (warm earflaps), many have removable visors, and the colors & shapes are appealing. Drew LOVES her pink Bern helmet, and likes that she has the same helmet as mom and dad. And that Luc doesn't.
Giro helmets are the ones you're most likely to find at your Local Bike Shop. They're cute, and work well for toddlers and preschoolers. Here one is looking a bit big on Luc. The adjustable fit dial is handy, but please note that it only connects by velcro to the "money" part of the helmet, so it will not hold the helmet in place in any sort of "why we wear helmets" scenario. Make sure the straps are properly adjusted (see below, not my beret-style photo to the left).
These multisport helmets from our bikey neighbors to the south win on graphic appeal, and have a more durable shell, for older kids that like to skateboard or throw their helmets around. They are heavier and look a bit bulbous, IMHO. But if they fit your kid's head, and the durability/weight tradeoff makes sense, or they love the graphics, go nutty with these.
I'm going to bypass any helmet debate here and just assume that if you're putting a helmet on your child then you're doing so wanting it to be effective, rather than to satisfy the letter of the local law. If so, please please please snug up those straps! There are SO many kids out there with dangling helmet straps. That leaves the helmet next-to-useless in a crash, where it will slip off the part of the body you're hoping to protect, and possibly harmful, if the helmet were to catch on something and get pulled behind your child's head.
- Before adjusting the straps, make sure the helmet fits - ideally you should be able to adjust the snugness so it doesn't fall off with straps unbuckled.
- Next, get the angle right - the front of the helmet should be low on the forehead, not jauntily at the hairline or down in their eyes. Your child should see the brim of the helmet when he/she looks up with their eyes.
- The straps should be even, and each make a "V" with the bottoms just below their ears.
- Finally, and this is the hard part, snug up the straps so that only 1-2 fingers can fit, and so that your child can feel the straps tighten when opening their mouth fully.
- That last part is hard for kids with sensory issues, who are resistant to helmets in general, who are used to loose straps, or who have been pinched in the past. Oh, the guilt I have about the times I've pinched Drew buckling her helmet. She won't let me forget it. Be very cautious when buckling, have them look up and close their mouth, and use your own finger as a "pinchguard". Then gradually snug up the straps a bit more with each ride.
- Need a quick 1-2-3 helmet fit test? Just remember the eyes, ears, and mouth part.
- When it's cold out, the models with ear flaps are great, but you can also use a hoodie top or thin wool cap to keep little heads and ears warm. Bulky hats and hoods interfere with helmet fit, though.
- In the category of "safety advice based on ultra-rare occurences", the safety people would like me to warn you that bike helmets are not for general play, especially on playground equipment, where a handful of children have snagged their helmet dropping through narrow spaces.
- Starting young, letting your child help pick the helmet, modeling helmet wearing yourself, and being consistent about their usage may reduce helmet battles. In your house, that is, not online.
What helmets have worked for you and yours? Any tips on getting them on kids, fitting them, and avoiding the dreaded "pinch"?