Best Helmets for Infants and Toddlers Buying Guide
So your little baby has been up on his feet and walking for a while and he has started getting curious about things. Among his new favorite things to do right now, in fact, are those activities that involve some form of physical risk whether it be climbing and running or riding on things that move, such as bicycles and toy cars. Heck, he even thinks you’re a ride too and insists on hopping on your back to play horsey. And while he sometimes has a meltdown that is not unusual for a kid his age, you know that this is one of the most magical times of his childhood where he is discovering a lot of things for the very first time. Every new experience heightens his sense of wonder. And when he laughs? It’s hysterical and full of amusement and joy!
But with his curiosity about the world and about rides comes the risk of falling and bumping his head. Not only is this one of the quickest ways to turn his laughter into crying, it is worrisome for you too. While bumps to the head are part of a normal childhood and hardly a big deal if he just gets it from running around and bumping into something, it is a totally different thing when it is from falling off a moving vehicle – this includes even slow moving ones such as a toddler bike or a centrifugal car. It turns into a potentially dangerous situation because the motion increases impact and could result in a head injury.
So what is a parent to do? You don’t really want to stop encouraging physical play as it teaches your kids about fitness and keeps them off the couch doing passive activities. And besides, how else is he going to get better at dealing with his environment? The good news is, you don’t really have to stop your children from going out for some physically risky play because you can protect him from the impact of head bumps, especially when he is on his bike or centrifugal with a helmet that is fitted to head.
What your child should wear a helmet?
Need more reasons to put a helmet on your child? Experts agree that wearing a helmet saves lives. In study after study, it has been shown that fatalities due to head injuries are reduced by at least 80% among helmet wearers. That’s a large number that should make purchasing a helmet a top priority as soon as your child expresses his desire to get on a bike or scooter. Further, making your kids wear a helmet gets them started on developing a habit for road safety during playtime.
Before you go out looking for a helmet for your infant, we at ParentsNeed HQ feel the need to let you know that it really is not recommended for infants under 12 months old to take bike rides. First, bicycles tend not to have suspension capabilities that absorb bumps in the road which makes your baby absorb the bumps and may cause trauma to his brain. Second, falling off the bicycle is potentially fatal to a child of such a young age. Use your very best judgement before allowing your child onto a bicycle.
If you are looking for an infant helmet to protect your baby from bumps as he is learning to walk, make sure to clear a space for him to practice walking. There should be nothing on elevated surfaces that could fall on him or anything that could get caught in the helmet. And never let him play in the playground with a helmet on. There have been reported fatalities due to helmets getting caught in branches and other things in a playground.
What are the features to consider when buying an infant or toddler helmet?
With all things under consideration, buying an infant helmet is much like buying a helmet for your toddler. Look for the following features:
Fit is the most important factor to consider when you are buying a helmet for your child. The helmet should fit snugly on your child’s head and should neither be too big nor small. You will want to take his head circumference one inch above the eyebrows which tends to be the thickest part of their head before you make your purchase.
● Safety Certifications
After you find a helmet that fits right, check the label for safety certifications. It should have been certified by a credible body such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission. You also want to make sure that it is certified for the purpose you intend it for – for example, biking helmets are thicker at the forehead where impact from bicycle accidents usually occur, as opposed to skate helmets which are thicker at the back of the head.
● Multiple Impact
The best helmets offer multiple impact points which is an important consideration since toddlers can fall and hit their heads at different points and not just at the front or back of the head. This is especially true if your child is riding on your bicycle in a child seat where accidentally falling off is caused by external movement rather than from himself.
● Helmet Construction
There are two types of helmets. The first one is called an in-mold helmet and the second is called a hardshell helmet. You will know a hardshell helmet by looking through the vents because you will see a gap between the plastic shell and the protective foam inside. Both helmet constructions are designed to protect your toddler’s head against injuries and not one is better than the other. In-mold helmets, though, are known to be much lighter than hardshell types.
● Easy Adjustment
Taking the time to measure your child’s head circumference will mean nothing if you cannot keep the helmet on your child’s head. Aside from fitting snugly, you have to make sure that the helmet is easy to adjust. Excited toddlers simply do not have the patience to sit and wait while their parents fiddle around with straps. There are a lot of models out there that are self-adjusting or have a dial at the back that will help you make sure that your child’s helmet doesn’t shift around while your child is doing his thing. Alternatively, some brands have a fitting pad that gets progressively thinner as your child grows. These pads do not affect the impact absorption of the helmet so don’t be afraid to adjust to the thinner pads when your toddler’s head grows bigger.
● Pinch-free Buckles
Kids remember pain and it serves them right so that they can avoid potentially dangerous places and things that they encounter as they are growing up. Sometimes, though, it makes it difficult for parents to get their child to do something once they have been hurt. This leads to a lot of crying on the kids’ part, and a lot of pleading on the part of parents. It’s the same thing with helmets where a toddler’s skin can get caught in the buckle. Once this happens, it will be very difficult to convince your little one to wear his helmet again. To prevent this from happening, you will want to look for a helmet with a pinch-free buckle so that your child will only associate the helmet with a reward – being able to ride his bicycle – and not with pain.
Kids’ bodies generate a lot of heat when they are playing and a lot of it is released through the head. So to prevent your child from overheating during play time, you want to get a helmet that has a lot of vents to allow air to circulate.
Even though toddlers shouldn’t be on their bikes outside when it is dark, it is still useful for their helmets to have reflectors just in case they happen to be still be outside with you after dark. It will help motorists see them at night in order to prevent accidents. In the day time, reflectors are fun for kids who tend to think they look cool. So it may be a plus in encouraging your toddler to wear his helmet.
● Flat Back
Toddler helmets that have a flat back are useful if you intend to let them ride on your bike on a child bicycle seat or in a bike trailer. The flat back helps keep the helmet in place without shifting it forward should your little lean back and fall asleep during his ride.
Tips for getting your child to wear his helmet
- The wonderful thing about toddlerhood is that it is a great age to teach good habits. So this is a good time to make your kid feel great about his helmet. Show him how cool it is wear a helmet by donning one yourself when you go cycling. If your child sees that the important people in his life also practice safety as a habit, he will be more likely to follow suit.
- Let him pick out his own helmet. Toddler helmets have a lot of cool and colorful designs. Your child is bound to find a design with his favorite animal, cartoon character, favorite color, and what not. Encourage him to personalize it with stickers and other materials. If he loves his helmet, he will be more likely to wear it. You might end up trying to convince him to remove it before he goes to bed!
- Even though your child is wearing a helmet, encourage him to be careful. Helmets are an extra layer of protection but they are not a substitute for playing safely. Never allow him to crash his head, even playfully, into a playmate’s head even if they are both wearing helmets. This is because helmets are designed to prevent major head injuries that involve skull fissures, but they are not necessarily designed to prevent minor traumas like mild concussions.
- Allow your child to bike only in low traffic areas where he will unlikely be hit by another moving vehicle. The ideal place to play is far from trees, traffic, and with not too many people.
- Teach your child to take care of his helmet and discourage him throwing it around when it is not in use. Throwing around his helmet may damage it and compromise its ability to protect your child from head injuries when it counts.
- While he is learning to bike or scoot around is actually the perfect time to teach your child about road safety. Teach him to stop at all stop signs and to check for traffic in both directions while he is crossing the street with you on his bicycle. It is never too early to learn to respect road rules.
The next time your child insists on getting on that bicycle, you can now be just as excited as he is because you no longer have to worry about him sustaining a head injury if he falls. You can now go out and purchase a helmet that is specially designed for his little noggin. But before you go, you might like to check one of our two top five lists. Do you have a child under 24 months old? If you do, have a look at our top 5 best infant helmets to see which ones we have found to be excellent baby helmets. Among them, we love the Lazer BOB (Baby On Board) Infant Helmet. It is a small helmet designed with a flat back and well vented for the baby on the go and is our number one pick for infants. If you have a toddler who is two years old and above, then you will want to go through our top 5 best toddler helmets where you will find great protective head gear for your active little one. Check out our favorite, Giro Scamp MIPS Helmet. We love it especially for its multiple impact design that will protect your child should he accidentally fall and get hit anywhere around his head. Perfect for your biking and scooting toddler.