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How Do I Choose the Best Kids' Bike Helmets?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2014
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To choose the best kids’ bike helmets, the buyer should most consider fit and safety. Specialized helmet options might be required depending on the type of biking kids do, such as recreational, mountain, or racing. It’s also a good idea to let children have some say in the choice to encourage their compliance in safe biking.

The most important consideration in choosing kids’ bike helmets is fit. Buyers may notice a variety of different sizes, such as toddler, and small through large childrens' sizes. Alternately, some helmets are one-size-fits-all, and the dimensions may vary. Sometimes older kids and teens are better served with adult sizes. In any case, trying on several helmets is the best way to determine the right size, but most have some adjustable features that can customize the fit.

Foam padding in the helmet’s interior can be left in for a snugger fit or removed to give extra room. With or without use of these pads, a close fit doesn’t allow the helmet to be easily swiveled or twisted from side to side, but the head shouldn’t be squeezed. The brim should sit about an inch (2.54 cm) above the eyebrows, though some brims have a sun visor attached that will reduce this distance. An adjustable chinstrap also helps to secure the helmet in place.

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Buyers will also want to evaluate kids’ bike helmets by their compliance with regional safety standards, which should be listed on the packaging. They might consider choosing these biking accessories by what has been labeled “best” by consumer review agencies. Lists of the best equipment options may be available in magazines or on websites, and shoppers are advised to follow the most current recommendations. Outdated lists may not be as helpful.

Most children are recreational bikers and the best kids' bike helmets for this type of riding may be surrounded with a hard plastic exterior or slightly softer foam. Both are good choices, provided they meet safety standards. When choosing kids' bike helmets for racing or mountain biking, shoppers should look for ones suited to the particular sport. These are often lighter, more durable, and more expensive.

To encourage safe biking habits, it may be wise to let children pick out their favorite helmet. This could better assure a child will actually wear what he selects. Shopping locally is often the best way to satisfy fit requirements and child preferences at the same time.

Standard guidelines for replacing kids' bike helmets recommend purchasing a new one anytime a crash impacts it, even if it doesn’t look damaged. Alternately, a new helmet should be selected every three to five years. This advice may not be entirely accurate, and depends most on the age and growth rate of the child. It’s suggested parents do a fit check every half-year and make any needed adjustments or replace the helmet if it is too small.

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