Bike Helmets for Babies & Toddlers

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Bike helmet for toddler

Feb 2012

I have a two-year-old who loves wheels, and I'm about to get a balance bike for her. I think I've decided on the bike, but I'm still flummoxed by the best kind of helmet to get. I'd prefer one that is adjustable so she can wear it across time, but of course it has to be somewhat comfortable or she won't wear it at all. Any recommendations for helmets to try or avoid? Margarita

We have a Nutcase helmet for our 3 year old. That was what our friend Justice recommended at the Wheels of Justice in Montclair. (an awesome and helpful bike shop) Kerstin

Your best bet is to go to a local bicycle shop with your child to get fitted. We went to one in our neighborhood (Encina Bikes in Walnut Creek) and they basically fitted my son, who was a little younger than 2 at the time. They were great about everything and even said that if I had trouble getting him to wear it at home, that I should bring it back and they'd figure something out for us. Oh, and I'm glad I didn't just buy one online or at another store, because even at younger than 2 years, my son needed the child size helmet instead of the toddler one! We ended up with this helmet: Balance Bike Mom

Problem Wearing Helmets in a Bike Trailer

August 2008

We've recently purchased a double bike trailer for me to pull my 3 year old and 1 1/2 year old kids. I was hoping to eliminate most of our car trips with the bike transport. However, I am finding that the kids are really uncomfortable in the trailer when they wear their bike helmets (which I thought they were supposed to do by law...?). The backs of the helmets force their heads and necks forward when they are seated. It seems to really hurt the kids and makes extended trips impossible. Any ideas? I Want To Make This Work!

We've had this problem too, although we aren't nearly as committed to the trailer as you are, so we just make them tough it out ;-) and remind them that sitting up straight helps (although on that sling-seat I bet that's easier said than done). What kind of helmet are they wearing? My older daughter recently got a so-called multi-sport helmet, which, unlike her previous bike-specific helmet, has a lower-profile back. It seems to help her, so we may switch to that with our younger as well. The helmets are available at bike and sport shops, often sold with the skateboarding stuff. My local bike store assured me they were approved for biking as well. Happy riding! anne

We had this problem too when we first started riding with our now 3 yo. We folded a thick beach towel and placed it as a backrest. This makes a gap at the top of the back allowing room for helmets to rest against the trailer backrest without the chin-to-chest gymnast move. My 3 and 1 yos ride happily! Ideally I'd get a shaped pillow to fit there, as the towel does mush and slide over time, but it's an easy fix to boost it back up. biker mama

We had the same problem -- we solved it by lengthening the stafey straps a little and sliding throw pillows behind our girls who are 2 1/2 and 5. This gave enough room for the helmet so they could look straight ahead. We have no complaints now and they think it is fun to ride in the trailer. Elizabeth

Wearing a helmet in the bike trailer was an issue for my toddler son, too. We put a pillow behind him in the trailer. This created space behind him for the protruding helmet, so that his head was no longer pushed forward. I hope this helps! Amy

Sounds like you need different helmets. There are kid helmets that have a flatter profile in the back so that their heads don't get pushed forward. We just got one at REI - where we could try helmets on our little one and plop her in a trailer to test out. Biking w/ baby

We had the same problem and solved it by using a small couch pillow that we got at IKEA. It sits below her helmet and provides the space needed to keep her happy. anon

Good for you for following the rules. I swear whenever we ride, I never see kids wearing their helmets in the trailer. That said, we had the same problem as you. So, we rode to the bike store and tried on a million helmets, until we found one that did not push down over his forehead and eyes when seated in the trailer. I think it was a Bell. But of course, every child has a different comfort zone. My son did well with this helmet too because it has vents like ours, and prevented his little noggin from getting too sweaty. ride on.

2 1/2 year old has a fit about wearing bike helmet

July 2007

My daughter is 2-1/2 and while she loves riding on the bike seat on the back of my bike, she has always hated (screamed, writhed, pitched a fit) having the helmet put on her head. I tell her it won't hurt if she stops scrunching her head down into her neck and lifts her chin up, but she still mostly does the former, making it a battle to get it on despite patient encouragement. Today the buckle (advertised as impossible to pinch kids with) actually did pinch her chin when I put it on and she was beside herself - major backward step. I don't want to put it on loose and floppy as this would defeat the safety purpose of the helmet. She loves it once we're going, with the breeze in her face, but hates helmet going on and off. Tonight we're putting the helmet on and off her bear, and ''helping'' him with his helmet phobia - maybe that will help. But any other advice, or experience with this problem? I want to ride to more local errands with her but can't take the fear and trauma part. Kate

Hi, First, I applaud you for having her wear a helmet, as I see many kids without helmets riding with their parents who are often helmetless themselves. To help her understand the importance of her helmet I think you should stress the safety issue. She can't go anywhere in the car without being strapped in, and the helmet is like a seatbelt. Its job is to protect her. If she wants to ride a bike, which apparently she does, she has to wear the helmet. One thing you can do is buy some special stickers she can use to decorate her helmet, and make it clear that the only way people can see how beautiful it is, is to wear it when she rides. Good luck, jamie

My husband and I walked around the house wearing our helmets for a few days to get our daughter to think that it ws normal and actually desirable to wear the helmet. -anon

Put it on loose and tighten it on her head. anon

Where to get a bike helmet for a toddler

Can anybody recommend a store in the area (Oakland/Berkeley) with a good selection of, and experience in the fitting of, bicycle helmets for toddlers?a (I would be willing to drive a little out of the way for a good quality helmet with proper fit!)a We basically need something that my 2-and-a-quarter years old son can start wearing so that he will develop the habit that he wears one whenever he is on a set of wheels, whether it be a bike, skateboard, rollerblades, etc.a (Right now he has a very low-to-the-ground tricycle.)aaThank you! Marian

No need to drive out of your way! Both Missing Link (Shattuck near University) and VeloSport (MLK at Virginia) would do a fine job. Our son got his first two helmets there (age 6 months and 3 years). Fran

Try Hank & Frank Bicycles on College Ave. They carry the Bell brand for children. I bought one for my son when he was 3. Bell is one of the best brands. My whole family has the bell brand head gear. This company is well known for making motorcycle helmets. Cindy

Try the Missing Link on Shattuck at University. A fair percentage of the staff have kids of their own, and most of them are knowledgeable about fitting helmets for toddlers. However, just before the start of Fall semester is one of the busiest times for Berkeley bike shops, so if you go there (or anywhere else in Berkeley) on a weekend the shop may be too crowded for you to get individual attention. Go on a weekday morning if at all possible. Jennifer

March 2003

We just bought a bicycle helmet and seat for our 16 month-old son. We haven't tried them out yet, but I have a feeling it will be quite a challenge to successfully get him to accept wearing the helmet. He doesn't like caps, hats, etc--pulls them off right away, and the few times we've tried to put the helmet on, he's pulled it off. So far, I've tried wearing a helmet around to show him that it's ok, I've put his helmet on his teddy bear (he pulls it off,) and I've tried to not let the helmet not be too much of an issue by just keeping out among his toys so that he can play with it a little. (He hasn't) We really need to use the bike with him in it for transportation and we think once he gets on the bike, he'll really enjoy the ride. However, we also want to avoid a dramatic scene that might scare him off from the helmet and bicycle for a long time. We're wondering if parents out there have any good ideas about how to successfully get the helmet on. Barbara

We had a toddler helmet that came low (almost over the ears), that our son refused to wear. When we tried a more adult style helmet, still in toddler size, he was much happier. I think he was terribly uncomfortable in the first helmet, and that's why we had the problems. Now he rides to preschool everyday. Mary

How about taking your son to some place where lots of kids are riding their bikes while wearing their helmets? Seeing the other kids wearing helmets could make it seem like a great thing to wear. The big courtyard at Thousand Oaks Elementary School on a sunny weekend is one suggestion. You can talk about the helmet being part of the bike ride, just like shoes are part of walking outside. Carolyn

Good luck with the bike helmet. One thing that seemed to help with my son is that I had him pick out some nifty stickers, little shiny dragons, hotdogs, etc., and stick them on his helmet. I think that made it seem more like it was his. Hope this helps. Dianna

My daughter is a bit older than your child - she is 2 1/2 years - so I am not sure if this will help at all....She is beginning to really understand the concept of 'cause and effect'. We JUST returned from a bike ride - my husband and I are avid cyclists and it something that I love to do. I have gone through a great deal of frustration with the whole helmet thing...we have been doing this in baby steps but she loves being in the bike seat so the rides have been very close to home, neighborhood cruises and the moment she takes her helmet off and refuses to put it back on, the ride is over! If we are close enough, we are off the bike and walking and if too far for walking, I take a big risk and ride her home but we are done! We have even gone so far as to call daddy, he comes to get her and I get to ride home. We have gone through about 5 scenes such as this over the past few weeks - today, when she took it off, I stopped the ride told her to put it back on or the ride was over and she asked to put it on. Felt like a big breakthrough, we'll see next time. Also, she had been using a helmet passed on from her brother and always complained that it was too hot. Maybe true, maybe not but we did decide to invest in a new helmet which even to me seemed like it would be more confortable to wear. More food for thought...I am a chiropractor and maybe his spine is not able yet to deal with the extra weight of a helmet. Ripping it off maybe his only way of letting you know that it hurts or is uncomfortable. Good luck to you! Anon

My 17 mth old son also wants to pull off all hats, and when I first put his helmet on him he cried and tried to get it off....until I got him on the bike. As soon as we were moving he loved being on the bike so much that he doesnt care about the helmet. Now I put him in the bike seat FIRST and then tell him we are going on a ride but that we have to wear our helmets on the bike. This works, but putting it on before he is in the seat does not, who knew????. I leave the helmet out as well and now he goes and gets it and says bike. So the fear of the helmet has been overcome by the fun of the ride. Hope it works for you. ls

We have had the same problem w/ our 20 month old. We didn't ride for months b/c she rejected the helmet. Enter playmobile. We had an accompanying problem of issues w/ the burley trailer. I spotted a playmobile set that is a mom/daughter bicycle and trailer set. The pieces are VERY TINY. We make it a special heavily supervised play time. Otherwise we keep it way up on the mantel. But we take it down, and play act about a bike ride, and always put the tiny helmets on mom and baby before they ride (tickle game). She asks to play w/ it each day. She's worn the helmet 2-3 times since we began the ritual. This sort of thing has worked well w/ my daughter before. To get over diaper change resistance, I put a lot of kleenex around her teddy bear's bottom! Jessica

Our son does not generally like fancy sun hats either. Nor did he like our lengthy bike helmet search, which required many helmet fittings. Every helmet that went on was protested in the stores. However, once he associated ''helmet on'' with ''fun bike riding time with mom and dad'', it was no longer an issue. We just said, ''And here is YOUR special BIG BOY bike helmet, just like mom and dad's to keep your head safe!'' It really helps if mom and dad serve as a good examples by willingly wearing their helmets as well. I notice lots of parents ride without bike helmets alongside their children who are wearing helmets. Just try it, you'll be fine! Biking with tots is great fun! jennifer

We've commuted by bike regularly with our toddler since he was about age 8 months, so he was younger when we started the helmet, but along the way we have had periods of resistance. My suggestions are:

- distract him while you put it on (can one person blow bubbles, sing a silly song, etc. while the other puts it on?), it may be that once it is on the ride itself will distract him from wanting it off.

- be VERY careful to NEVER pinch his neck in the buckle! I can't emphasize this enough. We always have our son look way up before buckling/unbuckling, and put our fingers under the strap behind the buckle just in case. The few times we pinched him were very memorable and and understandably traumatic for him. Charis

Bike helmets for babies?

From: Fran

Try VeloSport on MLK at Virginia. That's where my son's first helmet came from. He has a big head, but he started wearing it when he was about 6 months old. I'd consider selling or loaning it, but it was in an accident. The brand was a French name (man's name, first and last--Louis Varnaux?).

From: Sally

I bought the smallest one I could find when my daughter was about that age (9 months) and then stuffed extra socks into it because it was still 'way too big. In retrospect it would seem that socks would reduce the efficacy of the shock-absorbing properties so this was not necessarily a good thing to do. I just couldn't find a smaller helmet.

... in reference to stuffing a helmet with socks so it fits a very small passenger ...

From: Craig

Oooh! Not a good idea. I think most doctors will tell you (they told me) that you should wait until they're at least a year old. The problem with putting a helmet on too soon is that their little necks just aren't ready yet and the added weight of a helmet can actually cause serious injury (i.e.. you stop short for some reason and they might not be strong enough to stop their head and helmet from whipping forward too fast). Most helmet companies don't make really small helmets for this very reason.