Kids and wheeled riding toys go together like ice cream and summer days. But to make the recipe complete and to make a safe combination you need to add a helmet to the wheeled toy. No matter what the age of the child, when they get on a bicycle, tricycle or other potentially tippy outdoor riding toy their heads must be protected.
Head injuries can be devastating to children. A badly scraped knee or a broken arm, even if painful, will usually heal without long-term consequences. Not so a head injury, which can lead to devastating life-long problems or even death.
Start your child out on the first day with a helmet and it will be accepted as part of the riding experience. Wait until your child is older and you may meet with more resistance to wearing one.
For younger children choose headgear that is specifically designed for bicycle riding. By the time your child is old enough to be skateboarding or roller blading, he or she will need a larger helmet anyway, and you can select a new one that will be useful for all these sports.
Be sure that any bike helmet you choose has a label stating that it meets the standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Helmets come in both soft and hard shell configurations. As long as the item you select meets CPSC standards, either will offer good protection. Hard shell helmets are sturdier on the outside but can be heavier and hot in the summer. Although they may cost a bit more, look for several ventilation holes because this will help to reduce heat buildup. Many helmets are adjustable, so they can be expanded as the child grows, which does help with cost.
Look for a brightly colored helmet so that both you and motorists will be better able to see your child. Even though your child may not be allowed in the street, you can never count on a child to be predictable or to resist temptation. If other children are playing and riding in the street, your child may break the rules. You want him or her to be as visible as possible.
Letting your child pick out the helmet will usually make him more willing to wear it regularly. When they are younger children usually regard their helmets as “cool.” You will likely meet more resistance to wearing one from an older child, especially if you haven’t enforced helmet rules from day one.
Bicycle helmets are not especially expensive, especially if you compare the cost of a helmet to the cost of an emergency room visit. You can find them in bike shops, toy stores and discount stores from about $30 for a quality helmet. Be sure that you fit the helmet to your child before purchasing. Be wary of purchasing or borrowing used headgear. You won’t know the history, and if these items have been in an accident they may have invisible damage.
If your child does take a fall that impacts the head be sure to thoroughly examine his head gear before you send him back out. A hard impact may damage the foam, making it less protective. Look for skid marks or cracks on the outer shell. If you see signs of impact damage, be sure to get a replacement as soon as possible.
Warning: Helmets can become caught on playground equipment. Be sure that your children remove their headgear before they run to play if they have ridden their bikes to the park.