Buying the best bicycle helmet for your child

Consumer Reports News: May 30, 2008 01:09 PM

Bicycle helmets aren’t just for kids who ride bikes. Toddlers age 1 and older in bicycle seats and trailers, and youngsters on trikes, scooters and ride-on toys need one, too. A helmet that fits properly helps protect your child from injury. In fact, a well-designed and properly fitting bike helmet can prevent up to 88 percent of bicycle-related brain injuries, according to an industry estimate, so of course you’ll want to make sure everyone—yourself as well as your child—is protected with a properly fitting helmet whenever you ride. Here’s a heads-up on how to handpick the right helmet:

•    Before you buy a helmet, try it on your child in the store—preferably a bike shop or another store where the salesperson can help you choose the right size and adjust the helmet to your child’s head, or your head, if you’re also shopping for one for yourself. If you can’t bring your child with you to choose the helmet, make sure you can return it. A helmet should fit snugly and sit level on your child’s head, not tilt back like a hat. Not all helmets match all heads, and your child will resist an uncomfortable helmet, or one he doesn’t like, so pick a color or design he likes.

•    Replace a helmet that was worn during an accident. Some manufacturers will knock something off the price of a replacement.

•    To be sure the helmet you choose for your child is safe, look for a label inside the helmet that states that the helmet meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s mandatory safety standard.

To find the right safety helmet for your child, see our August 2007 report on bicycle helmets.

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