All bike helmets sold have to meet CPSC standards, whether they cost $15 or $50. Studies by the Bike Helmet Safety Institute showed that “the very expensive helmets and the very cheap helmets …have about the same impact protection” (source).
The most important factor in bike helmet safety is how it fits, and that’s something you’ll have to take make sure of yourself. That’s why it’s best to buy in-store where you can try the helmet on your child or buy from an online source that offers easy returns.
- The helmet should sit level on the head.
- It should cover the forehead down to one or two finger widths above the eyebrows.
- The chin strap should be tightened so that the left buckle is under the chin and no more than finger widths fit under the strap.
Other Features to look for
- Smooth, rounded exterior
- Be sure that the helmet is not too heavy for a toddler
- From the BHSI: “Helmets for children transported in child seats or trailers should never be the “aero” shape, since the tail hits the back of the seat and forces the child’s head downward. You may have to put a cushion behind the child’s back to prevent this.”
Good news for money-conscious parents: The BHSI says, “The higher priced helmets have big vents, but no verifiable advantage in impact performance. Our testing showed that the sample of very expensive helmets and very cheap helmets we tested had about the same impact protection.”
Giro Me2: $20 to $30 (shown above)
Schwinn Thrasher: about $20
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