Bicycling can be a fun pastime and a useful form of transportation for your family. Introducing your toddler to bicycling can be the beginning of a lifetime of good health and exercise habits. Unfortunately, though, accidents can happen. Whether riding in a child seat or bike trailer or pedaling on a tricycle, bicycle safety should be a major concern — even for toddlers. It’s advisable to have your child wear a bike helmet right from the start.
The best bike helmets for toddlers should be sturdy, yet lightweight enough so that they don’t pull the child’s head down or off-kilter. They should have easily adjustable straps and pinch guards that prevent pinching while you secure the helmet on your child. To keep your toddler cool and comfy, look for a helmet with sufficient vents to provide good ventilation. Other useful features include sun visors, bug screens, reflectors and LED lights.
Nowadays, many manufacturers make an excellent array of helmets for toddlers. In 2009, Consumer Reports evaluators gave Giro’s popular Me2 helmet (giro.com/us_en/) excellent ratings for the way it resists slippage and breakage during an accident. Researchers at the Good Housekeeping Institute have recommended the Bell Phantom (bellhelmets.com) for its flawless performance on safety tests. In addition, Consumer Reports gave a good rating to the Specialized Small Fry toddler helmet (specialized.com), which is designed to give the best fit for smaller toddlers.
Special Safety Models
If you are looking for a helmet with the most stringent safety standards available, Prorider toddler helmets (learningoutlet.com/Prorider-Universal-Toddler-Size-Helmet/dp/B0042SWXZ6#.UQq_1L-Ys7k) are best because they adhere to the Sperry Foundation’s B95 certification standard, which is the highest in the industry. Another best buy for safety is the Lazer P’Nut helmet (lazersport.com), featured as a model of interest in the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute’s 2012 review. The helmet’s new slip-plane design could reduce the possibility of concussions following an accident.
A poorly fitting helmet is not only uncomfortable, it can be dangerous. Purchasing the helmet at a local bicycle specialty store will ensure that you have the personalized attention needed to get a good fit. The helmet should sit level on your child’s head, without any rocking. It should cover the forehead one or two finger widths above the eyebrows, and the chin strap should tighten to no more than a finger width away from the chin.
Wait until your toddler is at least a year old before riding in a bike seat or trailer. Infants have weak neck muscles that just are not strong enough to support the added weight of a helmet and the jostling of a bicycle. Because an injury can result when helmet straps get caught on playground equipment or other objects, children should always remove their helmets when leaving their bike for other activities. Bike helmets usually don’t recover from being crushed, so get a replacement if your child has a serious accident.