The best kids helmets are, of course, the one a child actually wears — every time he or she gets on a bike, scooter, or skateboard. Bicycle helmets for kids and toddlers should be considered essential gear regardless of age and experience level, but especially for those who are just learning how to balance themselves. While there are a variety of options from the flashiest to the most subtle, all kids bike helmets should meet two criteria. The first is whether that shiny new youth bike helmet actually fits him or her at his or her current height and weight. The second is as important: whether your child will put it on and keep it on. The best bike helmet fulfills all the safety requirements and also appeals to kids’ interests — aesthetically or otherwise.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has some clear-cut tips for making sure the helmet fits.
- The bike helmet should sit level on the head and low on the forehead, which means about one or two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
- The chin strap should be snug, so nothing more than a finger can fit under it.
- To make sure the helmet fits correctly, have your kid yawn wide. If the helmet does not pull down on his or her head, you need to tighten the chin strap.
- If the helmet rocks back two or more finger-widths above the eyebrows, you need to shorten the front strap. If the helmet rocks forward into the eyes, the back strap needs to be tightened.
But a helmet’s protection is only as good as its construction, and two organizations — the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) — work to ensure helmets’ components are ready to protect. Always look for at least one certification before purchasing a kids helmet. All the below helmets, for both boys and girls, pass that test. As for which helmet, well, the rest is up to you and your child. If you opt for a basic design but your kid wants something wilder (or sillier), helmet covers offer a cool compromise.
The Best Bike Helmets for Kids
Patterned after its popular adult helmet, this pint-sized version by Bern is perfect for your young rider. A flip-up visor is handy when the sun gets low, while the super light weight is great for long summertime bike rides.
For your action sports dabbler, this option from Mongoose offers great performance at an affordable price, being rated for biking, skateboarding, and scooting. A rotating wheel, similar to those found on more expensive options, allows your little ripper to dial in the perfect fit, while 10 vents ensure great airflow as they whiz around the park. It's designed for children 8 and up.
For kids aged 5 to 8, the Rally customizes its fit with each wear thanks to an internal harness system. It’s a simple and effective means of making sure the best fit is achieved without a lot of time-consuming manual adjustment. Sixteen vents offer a ton of breathability for summer days, which a pinch-proof buckle helps prevent injury. It's CPSC-certified for biking only.
These helmets feature MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) technology, which allows the head to continue rotating during an angled impact, preventing a shearing of the brain's delicate tissue. (Complicated, sure, but trust us, it's some of the most advanced tech in the market.) The helmet has a dial fit system that you can adjust and remove as they grow and it comes with three sets of foam pads to change out for a more customized fit. And magnetic closure is covered in soft padding, so there's no pinching and whining. The shell has 11 vents and a detachable visor.
If airport carpet threw up inside a thrift store, it's hard to imagine a more perfect pattern than that of the Feather Flip. But don't let its eclectic appearance fool you; they're CPSC- and ASTM-certified as well. The bike helmet has an EPS inner shell designed to absorb impact, and soft pads cushion the inside. There's ample ventilation, too.
Some kids just want to burn down the world. For them, the skull-imprinted Mongoose Skull offers a grinning death mask with which they can terrorize the suburban roads and city streets while you and your partner gasp in mock horror. While the cavernous eye sockets on its rear are certainly noteworthy, they also allow airflow to your kid’s noggin, which is pumped in through ports on the front. This is an ASTM-certified multi-sport helmet, for scootering, skateboarding, and biking. It’s best for kids in the latter part of their first decade through the early teens.
This kids' bike helmet still meets CPSC and ASTM safety standards as a bike helmet while allowing wider use and a cooler silhouette. Rigid foam with a hard protective shell ensures your child is protected, while ventilation ports keep him or her cool. We also like its range of sizes (even big enough for you). The small is appropriate for ages five and up, but confirm your son or daughter’s head circumference prior to purchase.
The only thing you really need to know about Triple 8's Brainsaver is that it's the helmet of choice of badass pro skateboarder Mike Vallely. For years Mike V refused to don a helmet, but now he has two girls, so suck it. It's dual-certified for bikes and skateboarding and also incorporates MIPS technology, which improves protection during angular impacts, not just head-on collisions. It's ASTM-certified.
This bike helmet is meant for kids 8 and older, has 16 vents for an extra cool ride and rear reflectors for added visibility.
This lightweight youth helmet from Schwinn is a great option for tweens and teens (ages 8 to 14). It features a dial-adjustment system, so it's eminently adaptable, perfect for protecting growing noggins. A soft, padded interior makes it comfortable to wear, and 20 air vents keep it cool.
The Best Bike Helmets for Toddlers
Joovy's bike helmet has 14 air vents with integrated an bug mesh in the front vents, so no gross insects. There's an extended visor for maximum protection, nylon straps, and a pinch-proof chin strap. You turn right to tighten and left to loosen the helmet. And it's CPSC-compliant for kids one and older.
This kids' bike helmet, from the Bell brand, is made from thermoplastic rubber, has an open ventilation system, and an adjustable fit system. It complies with CPSC and ASTM safety standards. But most of all, it just looks friggin' rad.
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