While it is always important that a child wears a helmet, if that helmet is not the right fit then it is not providing the protection it should. If a helmet is too big or too small, it is not the right fit. A helmet that moves from side-to-side or doesn’t fit the head properly isn’t that much better than no helmet at all.
The good news is that fitting a helmet is not actually that hard to do, but it takes a little understanding of the process. In the following article we will explore the process of getting the right fitting helmet for protecting that head while on a bike or a kids escooter.
Here are five simple steps you can follow to make sure your child’s head is safely protected with a proper fitting helmet and optimal protection.
Step 1: The right size helmet.
It may seem obvious but many kids today are not wearing the right sized helmet and are not properly protected from impacts in the case of a fall. There is no way to properly adjust a helmet to fit a child if it is not the proper size.
To get the proper size helmet for your child, you must begin by measuring their head circumference. You can do this with your average measuring tape or a string that can then be measured with a ruler.
Measure from the center of the forehead just above the eyebrows. Make sure that you measure the circumference in cm or mm, or convert Imperial to Metric when completed.
You will then have the measurements needed to make a selection of bike helmets for your child. These measurements can also be used to make sure that the helmet they are currently using is the proper fit.
If you can’t measure the child’s head for any reason — for example, you are a grandparent and the child lives far away— you can follow the guide below to help you choose the best helmet size for your child’s needs.
If for whatever reason you can’t physically measure the child (for example, maybe you’re a grandparent buying the helmet as a gift), you can use the below table as a general guideline for selecting the right size by age.
Age Head Circumference (in cm)
12 months 46
2 years 48
3-5 years 51
6-10 years 53
11+ years 56
Please check out our kids age guide for scooters here.
Step 2: Make sure it is snug.
Helmets are designed to fit the head of a growing child and are adjustable to ensure a snug fit for an extended time frame. To make sure the fit is always correct, the helmet will typically come with helmet pads or a rear dial, sometimes both.
With the cheaper variety of helmets and those made for skateboarding, you will have to rely on padding to accommodate the helmet in the right place. But you can find the type of helmet that uses a dial to tighten or loosen the helmet.
When comparing the protection provided by these two types of helmets, the dial type of helmet allows for a better fit. I recommend this type for optimal protection.
The helmet has been properly adjusted to the child’s head when they can roll their head around and the helmet doesn’t move. The front of the helmet should be aligned above the eyebrows in the same spot where the measurements were taken. If it doesn’t reach this point, it will need to be tightened.
This is also a good time to ask the child how they are feeling. It is a common mistake for parents to be overly concerned with a helmet not moving that they tighten too much. If the helmet is not comfortably sitting on the child’s head, they will be less likely to wear the helmet and this can be very dangerous in the long run.
Step 3: Adjust the side straps.
The straps that connect on either side of the head should form a “Y” that joins right below the ear. The best way to get a good fit is by adjusting these straps while the helmet is on their head. That is if they can sit still long enough to allow this to happen. Good luck!
Some of these will have to be adjusted manually, but there are some helmets that have adjustable –free options that fit all sizes perfectly. This does make things easier.
Step 4: Adjust the chin strap.
The chin strap should be tightened so that it is snug but not excessively tight. There should be enough room to place a finger in between the strap and the bottom of your child’s chin, but no more than this.
There are different designs in the chin strap, and some feature a little extra strap that comes out the side. If this happens, I recommend trimming it down to about 6 inches and fastening it in place with rubber bands.
Step 5: Keep checking.
Adjusting the helmet once is not enough. If your child is anything like my own, you will have a rowdy, active child who will be tugging and pulling on their helmets for a variety of reasons. They may even be fiddling with the tension of the dial on the back of the helmet.
So, keep a close eye on the helmet and how it is looking. Is the chin strap loose? Is the helmet not sitting straight and even? If so, take a moment to stress the importance of a proper fit and readjust the helmet.
I find that I do this a couple times a month, or even more often if needed.
Check our full safety guide for kids escooters here.
Other helmet safety tips
— If the helmet has been severely impacted, dropped or involved in a rash, it needs to be replaced. Even if there are no visible signs of damage, the structural integrity of the helmet has been compromised and it will not offer the same protection.
—Teach children to treat their helmet with respect so that it will serve them well in case of an accident. This means always protect it from severe impacts and be careful not to throw or allow the helmet to fall.
— Keep your eye on the conditions of the helmet at all times, I make it a point to give it a good examination a couple times a month. I found a crack in a helmet just now; this has to be replaced immediately.
— One of the best choices of Helmet for kids these days, are those that feature MIPS-Technology. They are more expensive, but provide considerably more protection.
— If your child plays different sports, like cycling, skateboarding, skiing or skating, don’t assume that one helmet will provide the same protection in all situations. Make sure that yours has a CPSA label certifying that it is suitable for use with bicycles.