To quote the Consumer Product Safety Commission: “Bike accidents crash-land more kids in hospital emergency rooms than any other sport.” (Source) Finding the best bike helmets for kids and toddlers is absolutely essential for parents. Making sure riding a bike not only stays fun, but also doesn’t induce any injuries is every parent’s responsibility. Before purchasing just any bike helmet, you should have an in-depth look at the safety features that different helmets offer.
Bicycle riding has been around for a long time, and so have bike helmets. The first helmets are traced back to the 1880s when people would wear hardened hats of cork-like material covered with cloth. Bell Helmets Inc. was the first commercial producer of modern helmets in the 1970s, and they still dominate the industry today. (Source)
With the advent of motorcycle helmet technology, we now even have helmets jam-packed with built-in technology features. From GPS to walkie-talkie communication, you have a variety of helmet options available. You have to find the one that suits your child’s ride, age, and budget.
Do Helmets Work?
Helmets are the first accessory parents should buy for kids after getting any type of bike. It is, however, also imperative that you purchase helmets that meet federal performance standards. Using ‘novelty’ helmets instead of CPSC certified ones can result in twice as many injuries as compared to certified helmets. (Rice et al. 2017) Today most kids ride their bikes on asphalt and concrete roads, and these surfaces highly increase the chances of sustaining a life-altering brain injury after a crash.
Helmets work to absorb the shock, which protects the head, which keeps the brain safer. It is even more critical for toddlers whose brains are still in the developmental phase. The plastic shell on the outside and foam on the inside work together to offer maximum protection. A strap usually keeps the helmet fixed around the head.
The most important thing to keep in mind while purchasing a helmet is to see if it fits snugly. A wrong sized helmet is almost as good as no helmet at all. It can come loose or be too tight for your child to wear it comfortably. Also, the helmets are usually good till the first crash. The foam inside gets crushed, and hence you must buy a new one.
State Laws for Wearing a Helmet
In the year 1986, California was the first state that proposed a helmet law for kids under five years old. (Source) Since then, each state has differed in their adoption of Helmet Safety Laws. Universal Helmet Laws are incredibly useful in states where they apply. These laws dictate that all commuters, passengers as well operators must wear helmets. The fines for not wearing a helmet differ in different states and jurisdictions.
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Restricting kids to hear a car horn, or get a neck injury; these are some of the discussions that surround wearing helmets. However, no substantial evidence is present against these claims.
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Safety Standards for Helmets
Other than making sure, of course that your child or toddler is wearing a helmet while riding his bike, there are a few safety standards that you must keep in mind. Here is what we have researched for you to keep in mind:
- First of all, make sure the helmet fits your kid’s head perfectly. It should not be too big for his/her head that it drops down on his forehead and hinders his/her vision. It should also not be too tight that your kid feels sweaty and does not want to wear it. Also, always make sure that the kids have fastened the straps and are in place.
- The most important thing to notice while purchasing a bike helmet for your kids is to check if it is Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) certified. With the latest technology, companies have stepped up their helmet safety standards. However, you must see CPSC certification in the form of a sticker on the helmet given by the manufacturer.
- There are many varieties of helmets available in the market with light-reflector paint on them. However, it is always safe to make sure that there are reflector stickers on the helmet so that the drivers can see the child easily at night.
- Companies run their tests for safety checks. For example, at Virginia Tech’s Helmet Institute, different companies test their helmets for friction tests and impact angles. (Source) You can easily find the rankings and safety ratings of helmets on these companies’ profiles.
- Concussion upon hitting one’s head on the road is the most common and deadly injury in case of a fall from a bike. MIPS, Multi-Directional Impact Protection System, is a low friction material protection layer that is built between the outer shell and the inner layer. While other protection layers only work in case of a vertical fall, this system saves from a fall from oblique as well as straight, vertical fall. (YouTube)
- Durability and lightweight are some necessary features, as well. You may want to keep it for a longer duration, as well as keep it light for your little ones’ heads.
- You can evaluate different helmets based on value for money and the features they offer. You must also keep certain other features in mind, such as aerodynamics, proper ventilation holes on top, adjust ability of straps, comfort, fit, the right size, and aesthetics. Some helmets practically suit every budget and every rider.
- It is crucial that you teach your child to take care of his helmet. A damaged helmet does not provide adequate protection.
- Lastly, and perhaps the most important thing to take care of as a parent is to make sure your kid is wearing a helmet every time he goes on a ride. It will not only protect him from a severe injury but will also teach the habit from a very young age. Even a short trip to the park must include wearing proper gear. Remember, the helmet is not only an accessory; it is necessary equipment.
In conclusion, wearing a helmet is only required for safety. There is no set standard that an expensive helmet will outperform a not-so-expensive helmet. Safety features and CPSC certification are compulsory, and parents must look out for these.
Compare All Kids Bike Helmets
In the market for a Bike Helmets? Check out this guide comparing the features of some of the best ones in our opinion.
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