Just like hats, helmets also come in various sizes and shapes. If you are a parent and you are looking for a child’s bike helmet for your new rider at home, here is a comprehensive guide on how to buy a helmet that fits perfectly.
Why are bike helmets necessary?
Like any other sport, bicycling comes with its hazards. A sudden swerve from a path, a jump, or another speedy rider can cause an accident. Bicycling-related injuries form a big chunk of admissions in the ERs each year. Among these injuries, traumatic head and brain injuries constitute two-thirds of all bike-related fatalities. In most accidents, a properly fitted and well-adjusted helmet could have prevented significant damage. Lastly, several states have bike helmet safety laws that you must adhere to or you risk getting a citation.
Just as important as it is to buy a toddler bike helmet, it is equally important to buy the right one. The shape, size, specific purpose, and certain essential safety certifications are some of the features that you must look for when making a purchase. Unfortunately, most parents prefer to make a purchase inspired by the colors and designs of the helmet more than the safety features.
Most children are drawn to and inspired by the colors and designs of a helmet more than the helmet’s safety features. Unknowingly, parents often buy their children a helmet based on what their kids like. However, much more consideration must be given towards the helmet’s fit and safety features than the style.
Some important safety tips to consider while buying a helmet:
- Safety certifications: The helmet must have a CPSC or ASTM certification sticker.
- The outer shell must be hard-shell or in-mold. The outer shell must be strong enough to protect the inner EPS liner. A hard outer shell spreads the force across the helmet in case of an impact and keeps it from breaking into pieces.
- There must be proper vents according to the size and shape of the helmet to prevent extra sweating.
- This is especially important if you are buying the helmet for a younger child. A lightweight helmet makes it easier for your kid to carry and is just as safe as a heavier helmet. In fact, lighter helmets may be safer than heavier ones as they do not strain a child’s neck as much.
- There are several modern systems available such as MIPS, SPIN, and WaveCel. Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) helps in reducing rotational impacts upon impact. WaveCel is cellular material that is proven to reduce concussions if you hit the ground significantly. Whereas the SPIN system uses pads that reduce the severity of oblique impacts as well as straight hits.
- Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam is widely used in helmets for its ability to absorb shock.
- Either the paint on the helmet should be light-reflecting, or the manufacturer must provide additional reflective stickers.
- Straps and buckles – these help keep the helmet securely in place.
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Helmet Size Guide:
A helmet is useless if it is not the right size. Even if you buy one that comes with adjustable padding or you decide to use a hand me down, it must fit properly every single time you or your child go on a ride.
There are different charts and sizes available by various organizations. However, not every child is the same, and so the sizes vary. It is always best to take your child along for measurements when going to a local store to purchase a helmet. If shopping online, you must look at the measurement charts provided with the product.
A general size guide usually comes with small, medium, or large head sizes. It, however, is not the same for every head size. Also, you can disregard the age written on the helmet if your kid’s head doesn’t fall in that size category.
Adjustability is one of the most critical features of a helmet. Typically, there are three types of adjust-systems in helmets.
Traditional Dial Adjust system helps you adjust the size using a dial knob. Although this allows you to fit the helmet according to the head size properly, you must still always buy the proper size.
Lazer Self Adjust usually comes in high-end and expensive helmets. A tension wire that is usually provided with a plastic covering helps to secure the helmet according to the right size.
Padding Adjustments are usually available in low-end helmets. There are pads of different sizes and thicknesses that help to keep the helmet in place according to the size. It, however, is not a desirable option as the pads may fall and also cause irritability to the rider.
How to take proper measurements:
If the helmet is too small, it is going to just on top of the head and will not properly cover the forehead. If it is too big, it will fall down on the forehead and will not sit properly. A right-sized helmet will give a snug fit and touch all the way around the head.
Follow the steps below to measure your kid’s head at home:
- With the help of a fabric measuring tape, measure the circumference of your child’s head.
- The correct placement would be to measure one inch above the eyebrows. Make sure that the tape is equal and level on all sides.
- You can also use a non-stretchable string to measure if a tape is not available.
- The straps must form a V shape under the earlobes.
- The straps must also fit snugly (not too tight and not too loose) under the chin. Ideally, the rider should be able to turn his head left and right without the straps becoming too tight.
- The helmet must secure the head from the front as well as from the back.
- After placing the helmet securely on your child’s head and adjusting and buckling the straps, the helmet should be the thickness of two fingers above the eyebrows.
- If you feel that the helmet moves around a lot, it is probably too big for your child’s head.
- If, however, it sits just above the head, it is too tight.
- Your child must also be able to wear glasses with the helmet.
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All helmets are adjustable and come with different techniques and adjustability systems. These also come in various shapes and sizes, and each brand has their own sizing policy too. You can, however, check a universal size system provided by the CPSC. It is also best advised to read the guidelines and instructions on the helmet’s box to make an informed decision.
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