Most parents understand the importance of wearing a bike helmet and for good reason. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wearing a helmet decreases the chance of a serious brain injury by 88 percent. In addition to biking, however, helmets are also recommended for skateboards, scooters, tricycles, and a whole host of sports. Helmets are meant to absorb the impact from a blow to the head and, in some cases, protect a child’s face from impacting the ground. This is especially important for children because kids are more vulnerable to brain injuries than adults.
But not all helmets are the same. Choosing the correct helmet for the activity is essential to protect your child because helmets are designed for use during specific activities. For example, a bicycle helmet may provide some protection for your child during a baseball game, but it won’t be as safe as a helmet designed for baseball games.
There are a few rules that parents should know about helmets. Most helmets will last a few years, with removable pads that will allow more room as your child grows. You should also purchase helmets to protect your toddler on the back of your bike. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons does not recommend that a baby under 1 year old be on a bike at all, as their neck muscles are not strong enough to support a helmet. The helmet should fit snugly and squarely on your child’s head. It should also be stable and not wobble from side to side.
Avoid purchasing a used helmet. Without knowing the history of the helmet, it may not be completely safe. Any helmet that has been through a serious crash should be discarded and replaced. It may be damaged even if it looks just fine, and a damaged helmet cannot properly protect your child’s head.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a child should not wear a helmet when climbing on play equipment or in a tree. The helmet could get stuck, strangling the child.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, February 2019
- Wearing a helmet decreases the chance of a serious brain injury by 88 percent.
- Helmets are activity specific, a bike helmet is not ideal for baseball and vice versa.
- Any helmet that has been through a serious crash should be discarded and replaced.
- Parents should wear a helmet whenever cycling in order to be a good role model for their children as well as to protect their head in the event of a crash.