FINDING THE BEST KIDS BIKE HELMET

January 08, 2021

FINDING THE BEST KIDS BIKE HELMET
person riding a bike and wearing a Thousand helmet

PHOTO COURTESY OF @beckyjo_ortiz

We know the challenge can be real when it comes to enticing your little biking buddy to wear a bicycle helmet for any length of time, let alone on an extended bike ride. The good news is, today’s best bike helmet options are lightweight, breathable, and come in bright colors and fun patterns (think Disney and Spiderman) that are sure to make it a little less of a chore for the both of you. 

Plus, all kids bicycle helmets have to pass the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standard. This means that no matter which helmet you (or your kiddo) pick out, you can rest assured it’s going to be safe. Some youth bike helmets are even designed with multi-directional impact protection system (MIPS) technology, which is especially ideal for little shredders or BMXers. More on this below.

Whether your little one is riding in a bike seat, using training wheels, or pedaling to school every day, wearing a kids bike helmet is the law and will protect their precious noggin’. If you’re curious about your local or state bike helmet laws, this guide should help. In the interest of keeping you and your whole family safe on the road or mountain bike trails, we gathered a selection of the best kids bike helmets ideal for bikes, skateboards and scooters to help minimize your decision fatigue (yes, it’s a real thing!). We’d much rather you be out enjoying the fresh air instead of endlessly scrolling the internet. Happy helmet hunting! 


WHAT’S IMPORTANT FOR CHOOSING A KIDS BIKE HELMET

The human brain takes a fairly long time to develop — 25 years in fact, according to the Big Think. By age five, a child’s brain is 90 percent developed. It’s so important to keep your child’s head safe from potential head-related injuries like concussions during these formative years. Here are a few things to consider when picking out the right high-quality protective gear for your little one.   


1. SAFETY.

Helmets are lined with a mold construction expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. The crushable foam is typically covered in an outer polycarbonate hardshell. Today’s helmets are becoming safer and more functional with the introduction of MIPS helmets specifically for kids. 

An MIPS helmet is designed to protect heads against the rotational force caused by falling at an angle (the most common way to fall off a bike). These types of helmets are constructed with an exterior EPS liner and a second interior liner. The two layers slide ever so slightly during a crash, which means less force is transferred to the brain upon impact. 


2. GETTING THE RIGHT FIT. 

Your kid’s helmet should have a snug fit and should not shift around when they move their head. There’s no universal sizing across brands, but head circumference is key. It’s easy to measure their noggin’ with these three steps:

  • Step 1: Wrap a flexible measuring tape or string around the largest part of your child’s head. It should sit around two finger widths above their eyebrows. You can even use a phone or computer charger. 
  • Step 2: Mark the spot where the top end meets the other side of the measuring object. Then, use a ruler to measure the length (if it’s not a measuring tape). 
  •  Step 3: Compare the length against a bike helmet size chart.

Knowing that kids grow up so fast these days, brands are introducing more customizable helmet options to promote a longer lifespan. Look for removable padding and an adjustment system that clicks in the right fit. Once the helmet’s home, be sure to adjust the chin strap so that just one finger fits in between the strap and chin. You’ll want to double check to make sure the helmet is adjusted for fit and security each time they ride.


3. HAVE IT FIT A CHILD’S PERSONALITY. 

This is the fun part! Aside from literal fit, a kids bike helmet should really fit their personalities. A quick search on Amazon pops up all sorts of bright colors, eye-catching patterns, and even helmets with mohawks attached to the top. A cycling helmet is a great way for kiddos to express themselves. 

Most brands also offer their helmets in basic black, which is ideal for older kids who might be into sports like skateboarding, mountain biking, and even cycling.


SIX BEST KIDS BIKE HELMETS

  • Thousand Jr. Kids Helmet, $60
  •  Joovy Noodle Helmet, $25. 
  •  Bern Nina/Nino Helmet, $40. 
  •  Giro Scamp Helmet, $40. 
  •  Kali Protective Chakra Youth Helmet, $45. 
  •  GoTrax 2-in1 Full Faced Helmet, $46. 
  •  Nutcase Little Nutty Helmet, $70.

THOUSAND JR. Kids Helmet, $60

Thousand Jr. Power Pink Kids Helmet

You spoke. We listened. The team at Thousand has been noodling away designing and developing the perfect new bicycle helmet for kiddos. Now, you and your kids can have matching Thousand helmets. Our kids option comes in four expressive colorways (Power Pink, Blazing Blue, Going Green, and Standout Sparkle) and includes a pack of removable kid-friendly-and-approved reflective helmet stickers for endless creative combos. They’re certified for bicycling, skateboarding, and roller skating and feature a magnetic clasp, six vents, and vegan leather straps. The best part (besides the stickers)? Thousand Jr. is made to grow with your kiddo because we designed it with an adjustable dial fit system.   

JOOVY NOODLE HELMET, $25

At the time of this writing, the Joovy Noodle Helmet cost just $25. This budget-friendly bike helmet pick comes in seven colors and two sizes (small and medium). The best part? This helmet grows with your child. The Noodle toddler helmet is built with a dial that can be adjusted to fit toddlers and youths aged one to nine years old. Two other cool features are the mesh vents, which keep the airflow going and pesky bugs out of baby’s face, and the built-in visor for better visibility on sunny days.

JOOVY NOODLE HELMET

BERN NINA/NINO HELMET, $40

BERN NINA/NINO HELMET

What kid wouldn’t want to look like a strawberry or a flying tiger while riding their bicycle? The Bern Nina and Nino Helmets don’t have fancy bells and whistles but they’re certainly safe middle-of-the-road options that fit little ones between the ages of five and eight. The style is lightweight and includes a soft flip visor. If you want to add a bit of extra protection, the Nina and Nino are compatible with the Bern Quickmount Asteroid micro-USB rechargeable rear bike light.       

GIRO SCAMP HELMET, $40

Giro’s mid-range Scamp Helmet is an ideal choice for little riders. In fact, this one really pushed other brands to make their youth bike helmet designs to be more lightweight and better fitting. Giro touts its Roc Lock Jr. Fit System, which ensures the fit matches the curvature of a child’s head. A pinchguard buckle means easy in and out. Adults will appreciate the large rubber knob to make small adjustments and lock in a snug fit. The Scamp comes in bright patterns and colors as well as matte black. Upgrade to the Scamp MIPS bike helmet for just $20 more.

GIRO SCAMP HELMET

KALI PROTECTIVES CHAKRA YOUTH HELMET, $45

KALI PROTECTIVES CHAKRA YOUTH HELMET

The true beauty of a Kali Protectives Chakra Youth Helmet is its Lifetime Crash Replacement guarantee. Yep, you read that correctly. If your child crashes, and the helmet is impacted, you can return it for a new one. Kali Protectives takes said injured helmet and inspects it as a way to continually improve its design. Speaking of design, this one has antimicrobial pads (perfect for sweaty youngsters) and a breakaway visor making it an excellent choice for kids ages six and older who ride mountain bikes. 

GOTRAX 2-IN1 FULL FACED HELMET, $46

Have a little mountain biker, skateboarder, or scooter rider? GoTrax 2-in-1 Full Faced Helmet could be just the multi-sport helmet option you’re looking for. The unique design features a super cool detachable face guard, which allows your kiddo to customize the look depending on the activity. It’s breathable, lightweight, and fits most kids ages 3-12 years old with its size-adjusting system. 

GOTRAX 2-IN1 FULL FACED HELMET

NUTCASE LITTLE NUTTY HELMET, $70

NUTCASE LITTLE NUTTY HELMET

Kids fall. It’s what they do! Fortunately, they’re lower to the ground, making those tumbles a little more forgiving. The Nutcase Little Nutty Helmet is a durable option, especially if your kid is out on a bicycle regularly or likes to hit up the skate park. It’s available in 15 different designs — like Viking horns and a dog face and the solar system — and has MIPS built in. The Little Nutty toddler helmet is made for toddlers and youths three and older. Need something smaller? The Nutcase Baby Nutty Helmet is $60 and certified for babies one and older. 

Curious what else you should keep in mind when you’re shopping for a youth bike helmet? We got you — and your kiddos — covered. In terms of weight, lighter is better. This is especially true for smaller heads that are still growing and for toddlers learning how to keep balance. A dial fit system or adjustable bike helmet stands a better chance of keeping pace with your child’s growth, as long as it doesn’t suffer an accident. We much prefer a magnetic buckle closure on kids bike helmets because it’s so much easier to open and close (our adult bike helmets are magnetic). 


THE BENEFITS OF BIKE RIDING FOR KIDS

Outdoor sports such as biking, skateboarding, and scootering have long served as go-to activities for kids. It’s possible that some of your favorite childhood memories involved a bike. When we think about the benefits kids get from riding bikes, usually fun, exercise, and family time come to mind. Plus, virtually anyone who learns how to ride a bike keeps that skill for life. 


1. IT’S FUN. 

If you had a bike in your life as a kid, you can probably remember when you first learned to ride, when the training wheels came off, and all of the fun that you had cruising around the neighborhood. Riding a bike is a fun activity and offers a reason to get outside and explore.   


2. IT’S A GREAT WAY TO MAKE FRIENDS. 

Is there any better way to safely socialize with new and old friends? Riding bikes makes meeting people so much easier because kiddos already have something in common. It’s a great group activity that encourages skills like wayfinding, collaboration, and sharing.


3. IT KEEPS KIDS PHYSICALLY ACTIVE. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that “preschool-aged children (ages 3 through 5 years) should be physically active throughout the day for growth and development and children and adolescents (ages 6 through 17 years) should do 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day.” Riding a bike is an excellent physical activity that also offers child development. Win-win.


4. IT’S A GREAT FAMILY ACTIVITY. 

Whether you’re leading or following a crew of bicyclists, getting around together on two wheels is a great way for families to bond. Making time for quality time can help strengthen relationships and teach kids valuable lessons about safety. 


5. IT CAN BE A CATALYST FOR RESPONSIBILITIES. 

Having a bike is a big responsibility for a kid. This is a great opportunity to instill a sense of ownership and pride at a young age. They can learn to keep their bike safe by locking it up, take good care of an object that was either earned or gifted, and even become better at navigating the local neighborhoods.    

CONCLUSION

It can be a challenge to get a child to wear a bike helmet. But not when it comes in a bright color or fun pattern that lets their personality shine. Across the U.S., there are mandatory bike helmet laws for children. 

A child’s helmet should be lightweight and fit snugly. Many kids bike helmets offer the ability to make micro adjustments for the perfect fit. Others “grow” with the child, which is an ideal option for toddlers or young children. 

In March 2020, children’s bike sales surged to 59 percent, which was nearly double compared to that same time the year before. We’re excited to see this trend continue because riding a bike is fun, provides excellent exercise, and is a great activity for the whole family.    


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