Shocking, but only one in four kids ages 4 to 15 wears a helmet when bike riding. This is truly unfortunate since wearing a helmet reduces the risk of brain injury by 88 percent—but only if the helmet sits level on the child’s head and fits securely. Here’s what you need to know about toddler bike helmet safety and how to ensure the proper fit.
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Bike helmet safety in 4 steps:
1. Measure your toddler’s head for approximate size. To ensure bike helmet safety, your toddler’s helmet should fit now. “Just like with shoes, don’t buy a helmet for your child to ‘grow into,‘“says Rene Hopkins, RN, a child-safety researcher in Augusta, Ga.
2. Position the bike helmet so that it sits low on your child’s head, about two finger-widths above the eyebrow. When she looks up, she should see the rim of the bike helmet.
3. Adjust bike helmet straps so that they form a “V” under the ears. When buckled under the chin, the bike helmet should fit snugly and no more than two of her fingers should fit under the strap.
4. Shake it, baby. If the helmet flops at all, adjust straps for a tighter fit.
What about infant-sized bike helmets?
While you’d love to take your baby or young toddler along for the bike ride, safety experts strongly advise against it. Why? In children younger than 12 months, neck muscles aren’t strong enough to support the weight of the helmet. “Do not consider taking a baby in a bike trailer or carrier seat,” Hopkins says. “If you want to take your child before he’s 2 years old, ask your pediatrician if he’s ready.”