Over the spring Dayton Children’s Hospital participated in quite a few helmet fittings for kids in our community. We deeply believe in the importance of wearing helmets for each and every ride for all kids – and all wheeled sports including bikes, skateboards and scooters.
However, I’ve often asked myself when to kids start wearing helmets? Mary has a little big wheel that she is just starting to use and I’m realizing that I probably need to start looking for a helmet for her. And what about all of the kids who are riding behind their mom or dad on an adult bike? Should they be in helmets too? When should helmet wearing begin?
After doing a little research, here are some tips for introducing your children to using a helmet and riding safely:
- The right age. Start riding no earlier than age 1. Before age 1, a child doesn’t have enough neck strength to hold the weight of a helmet or control his or her head during a sudden stop.
- Use age appropriate riding devices. Always follow the weight and height requirements on your riding toy, bike seat or trailer’s packaging. Just like a car seat, riding toys, bike seats and trailers are designed to fit a specific size child.
- Find a helmet that fits. Typically you can find “toddler” sized helmets that give a little more protection to your child’s head and neck. To ensure a proper fit, you should be able to have two finger-widths between the eyebrows and the helmet. The side straps should form a V under and slightly in front of the ear and when buckled, you should only be able to fit one to two fingers under the strap. The helmet should fit your child snugly. Some helmets even come with extra padding to ensure a snug fit.
- Be a role model for your little one. If he or she sees you wearing one on all rides he or she will follow!
And remember, helmets are for riding – and should not be used when playing on the playground or as a toy.
Get out there and ride! Enjoy the summer!