Getting exercise or even quality time outdoors can be tricky with little ones in tow. Biking presents a great solution, letting you get outside with your baby or toddler while you get some movement.
Whether your tot is riding their own bike or balance bike, or riding in a tow trailer or mounted bike seat, it’s critical to find the best bike helmets for kids that work for you. Baby bike helmets and toddler helmets are designed to protect your little one’s head if you ever get in a crash.
Helmets are similar to car seats in a lot of ways. Helmets sold on the U.S. market must all meet the same safety requirements, so you can rest assured that all helmets in stores are safe helmets for babies. However, just as with car seats, fit and proper use are critical with kids helmets. Here’s what you should know about baby, toddler and kid helmets, and how to find the right one for your child.
In this article:
- The Best helmets for babies
- The Best helmets for toddlers
Safety Rules About Bike Helmets for Kids
Any time your child is partaking in a fast-moving activity where they could hurt their head, they should wear a helmet. Although no helmets can prevent concussions entirely, they reduce your child’s risk of a concussion greatly if your little one happens to fall and hit their head.
Kids and toddlers should wear helmets when they are riding a bike (including ), a scooter or a skateboard. Lots of doctors now recommend that kids wear helmets while sledding, and of course children should wear helmets while horseback riding or playing contact sports like hockey or football.
Although toddlers and babies are much less likely to be participating in risky activities, it’s still important that they wear helmets. Toddlers will need a helmet when they’re playing on a bike, balance bike, or scooter.
Now, there are more options than ever for introducing your toddler or baby to biking. There are child seats that mount to the front or rear of your bike, trailers that are towed behind your bike, kids’ bikes that attach to adult bikes, and even family cargo bikes. Any time your baby or toddler is riding in one of these, he or she should be wearing a helmet.
Kids’ Helmets: How They Work
The general premise of helmets is simple: they’re designed to absorb the impact of a collision in order to protect the brain and skull. Some helmets have additional features, like protection for the face or shaded lenses, but these generally aren’t features on toddler helmets and baby helmets.
All helmets have a thick layer of polystyrene, or plastic foam. This is what absorbs the impact and protects your little one’s head. The polystyrene is then covered with either a soft cloth shell, or a hard shell, both of which are designed to keep the polystyrene together if there’s an impact that’s hard enough to cause it to crack. Soft-shell helmets are generally lighter and cooler, but hard-shell helmets are a bit safer, since they can protect the wearer from sharp objects that might make it through a soft shell, to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Always choose a helmet that U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)1 certified — you’ll find that information right on the label. That means the helmet has passed the required federal safety testing in the U.S.
To get a good helmet fit for your baby or toddler, you’ll need to measure their head circumference (you’ve probably seen the doctor do this at appointments). You can jot down the number at your next check-up or take a measurement on your own: use a flexible tape measurer to measure the head about two finger-widths above the eyebrows and directly above the ears. The resulting measurement can be used to find the helmet that is best for your toddler.
Helmets for Babies: The Basics
Lots of parents who are enthusiastic bikers can’t wait to get their little ones out on the trails. Unfortunately, you might need a dose of patience here. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies younger than 12 months do not ride in any sort of bike or trailer. That’s because little babies have neck muscles that are still developing, and they may not be able to withstand the bumps and jostling that is a normal part of biking.
Despite that official recommendation, some products—especially bike trailers—claim to be safe for babies younger than one year. If you feel strongly about bringing your baby on a bike ride, talk with your pediatrician about the risks and any necessary safety precautions. That way, you can make a choice that’s right for your family.
to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are helmets designed for babies. These are generally very light-weight soft-shell helmets. Although many of them aren’t suitable for biking, they might protect your baby in other activities. Whatever helmet you choose, look for a snug fit.
Helmets for Toddlers: What You Need to Know
Once your baby is a year old and onto the toddler stage, you have the green light to start biking with your child. At this age, your toddler might enjoy riding in a bike-mounted child seat or bike trailer. As they get a bit older, they’re also ready to begin experimenting with balance bikes, bikes with training wheels, and scooters.
All of these activities require a helmet. The most important thing to remember when choosing a toddler helmet is that you need a snug fit. Since toddlers grow so fast, that means you’ll need to check the fit regularly. Here’s what defines a good fit for a kids’ bike helmet, according to the CDC:
- No space between the foam pads and the toddler’s head
- A front brim that sits one to two finger’s lengths above the child’s eyebrows
- Does not interfere with the child’s sight to the front or sides
- Straps that meet in a “V” under and slightly in front of each ear
- A chin strap that can fit only a finger or two beneath. If your child opens their mouth wide, the strap should pull
There are a few other considerations when choosing a baby or toddler helmet:
- Choose a grow-with-your child option. A helmet that is adjustable, with additional padding that can be added or removed, will grow with your child without compromising safety.
- Get your toddler involved! Letting your child choose a cool, comfortable helmet that they love (maybe with a neat design or favorite character) can also make them more willing to cooperate. Just like car seats in the car, make helmets non-negotiable from an early age.
- Know when it’s time to upgrade. Finally, it’s important to know when to replace a helmet. Bike helmets are designed for just one impact, so always replace a helmet after a fall, and if you notice any cracking from normal wear and tear.
The Best Helmets for Babies
Before age one, your baby isn’t yet old enough to be out on a bike, but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from some head protection. Here are the best helmet for babies:
If you’ve decided that you’re going to take your baby on a bike ride, this Schwinn helmet is a great choice. It has everything you want: the safety that parents demand, and the fun characters that little ones love. The helmet is designed to be highly adjustable with many vents in order to keep your baby cool even on the hottest rides.
It weighs slightly more than half a pound, making it comfortable for babies who have plenty of neck control and strength. Best of all, the dial size adjuster means that this might be the only helmet you need to buy until your child is 3 years old.
- Weight: 0.57 pounds
- Fits head circumference 17.50 to75 inches
- Fits ages 0-3 years, roughly
- Fun designs ranging from teddy bear to dragon to firefighter
- Approximately 6.875 x 5.75 inches
“I read review after review on many ‘infant’ helmets and even though I’m not a huge fan of the teddy bear look, it fits my 5-month-old and that’s what’s important. [It] has a head band that tightens and loosens, straps around ears and chin strap all adjust separately to fit any head shape. She was comfortable and didn’t try to yank it off, she was babbling away and even fell asleep on our 40mile bike ride. I highly recommend this Schwinn helmet for any child under 1 years of age for sure, and it can definitely grow with your child past 1years of age.” –Amazon review
Keep in mind:
Although this helmet is designed for biking and designed to fit babies younger than a year, the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend that babies who are younger than one go bike riding. Talk with your pediatrician before taking your baby for a ride in a bike-mounted seat or trailer.
The Specialized Mio MIPS Helmet is designed to meet your requirements, large and small. First off, it’s super safe. The MIPS system and foam interior are designed to keep your little one’s head safe even during a bike accident.
Then, there are the smaller touches that safety-conscious parents will love, like the magnetic buckle that prevents pinching, the reflective webbing to keep your little one visible in low light, and the mesh-covered vents that will help to minimize bug bites. Budget-conscious parents will also love that this helmet comes with a 2-year manufacturer warranty.
- MIPS safety system
- Magnetic buckle
- Reflective materials
- Mesh-covered vents
- Attached visor
- Designed to be used comfortably in a bike trailer
“It literally saved my daughter from serious injury/death on a downhill accident. Yeah… the helmet was lost but she’s still here because of it.” ––Specialized review
Keep in mind:
Although many helmet manufacturers are beginning to focus on MIPS systems, the premise has not yet been proven by federal regulation. Still, most experts agree that these systems, which allow the helmet to better absorb rotational impacts, are important.
If you want your little one to look just like the rest of the family, the Giro Scramp Youth Recreational Bike Helmet is a great choice. Gone are cutesy patterns and characters. In are bold lines and bold colors.
This looks like a serious helmet from the outside and it is — it’s packed with innovations that Giro first tested in their line of adult helmets. Features like a built-in visor and 8 vents will help keep your little one cool and comfortable, which can mean more time out on the trails for you.
- Fits children with a head circumference of 45-49 centimeters (17.75-19.25 inches)
- Foam lining and polycarbonate hard shell
- Multi-directional impact protection system (MIPS) designed to reduce impact on the brain
- 8 vents
- Roc Loc Jr. fit system
- Pinch-guard buckle
- 12 x 10 x 8 inches
- 1 pound
“The adjustment wheel on the back makes it adjustable down to the millimeter. It’s a perfect fit. The chin strap is fully adjustable too but even before I could adjust the chin strap my energetic daughter ran away and the helmet stayed on her head while running, jumping and climbing. It meets all my expectations even for an adult helmet. It’s probably even better than mine since it has MIPs. From what I’ve noted MIPs makes the helmets a little more comfortable in addition to it’s safety benefits. I’m a little jealous of my two-year-old’s helmet.”––Amazon review
Keep in mind:
If you’re going to take your baby out on a ride, they’ll be in great hands when it comes to the safety of a Giro helmet. Just remember — babies under a year shouldn’t be riding yet, and at one pound, this helmet is probably too heavy for young babies.
The Nutcase Baby Nutty NIPS Helmet might have a funny name, but it takes safety seriously. The helmet is designed with a MIPS system to reduce the rotational injury that your child experiences during an impact. It even has a “crumple zone” in the helmet to maximize the impact that can be absorbed — just like cars do. The Fidlock snap-and-go magnetic buckle system means that you won’t have to worry about accidentally pinching your baby in order to get a tight fit. Another perk? The fun but not overly cutesy patterns mean you can find a print that you and your baby both will love.
- Weight: 11.6 ounces
- Fits babies with a head circumference of 18.9 inches and larger
- Fidlock® snap-and-go magnetic buckle system
- MIPS system protects from rotational injuries
- 11 vents
- Polycarbonate shell
- GROW Flex Fit System and 3-piece pad set to adjust size safely
“I ordered this helmet for my child and I had a question. I called the manufacturer and left a message. I received a quick call back and my question was answered. As far as the helmet I am impressed by the buckle system and the light weight. My child doesn’t seem to mind wearing it.” –REI review
Keep in mind:
Although the Nutcase Baby Nutty NIPS Helmet has 11 vents, they are all fairly small, which means that your child might get hot in this helmet. In addition, some reviewers mentioned that the size adjustment was tricky with this helmet.
Let’s be clear: this helmet is not for wheeled adventures. But most babies aren’t going on big outings—they need a helmet that can help protect them from all the routine bumps and bonks that come as part of being a new baby exploring that world.
That’s exactly what the Huifen Adjustable Safety Helmet does. Instead of polystyrene you have a light layer of foam, wrapped in smooth, breathable cotton. Best of all, the helmet is light enough to start early and get your little one used to wearing a helmet on their head.
- Foam frame with 100% cotton lining
- Soft frame
- 54 x 6.42 x 4.88 inches
- 4 ounces
- Adjustable sizing designed to fit ages 2-60 months
“What a great product, bought it when my son was about 6 months old. Was able to adjust it small enough to fit his head. With other kids running around while he is in his walker or activity centers, it protects him from bumps… flying pillows or toys really anything. Great when he is on the tile floors crawling around and pulling himself up on furniture. Avoided quite a few head crack injuries on tile covered cement floors. Use it when he is playing on the couch or hanging out on bed. Any type of activity that calls for extra protection. So happy we have it for when he starts walking!! He didn’t like it the first few times. But we just distracted him and kept adjusting it. So finally he was like whatever. Now the only time he will mess with it when it is on, is when he goes to rub his ears and his fingers catch on the straps. Aside from that, I highly recommend!” –Amazon review
Keep in mind:
While this helmet is great for bopping around the house, it is not designed to be used for biking or other potentially-dangerous activities. Although it’s not certified by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, we love it for exactly what it’s designed to do—give mama some peace of mind at home.
Anyone who has been around a new crawler or walker knows that just being a baby can be perilous. The Baby Safety Helmet Infant Adjustable Head Protector is designed to take away some of that risk, so you no longer have to worry about your baby bumping into the table or hitting their head as they tumble down. This helmet is entirely soft, and only designed to absorb the impact of small collisions, but even a little bit is enough to give a new mom some peace of mind.
- 09 x 5.12 x 6.3 inches
- Weight: 7.8 ounces
- Three-layer construction with polyester material, foam, and cotton
- Adjustable on the center or the helmet and at the straps
- Designed to fit babies 6-24 month
- 20 vents
“This helmet is cool, light, comfortable, it really avoids blows to the head. My grandson was learning to walk and he fell a lot and also some small bumps on his head and he decided to buy this helmet and oh my god — holy remedy!! I love it!” Amazon review
The Best Helmets for Toddlers
Once your child hits the toddler stage, you’re ready to go for bike rides and other wheeled adventures. Since toddlers are very active, but also learning these activities, a good fit on a toddler helmet is critical. The most important piece, however, is a stylish and comfortable helmet that your little one will wear consistently. Here are some favorites:
The Joovy Noodle Helmet checks all the boxes: it’s light, well-ventilated and has been tested and approved to keep your toddler safe. This helmet also has plenty of perks, particularly given its low price point: for example, the adjustable visor, the mesh covering the front vents to keep bugs at bay, and the pinch-guard chin strap.
The Joovy Noodle Helmet comes in 7 primary colors, so your little one can pick one that appeals to them — or you can choose one that strikes your fancy.
- Available in two toddler sizes for optimal fit
- 5 x 8.5 x 6.5 inches
- 2 ounces
- 14 vents, covered with mesh on the front
- Turn-dial size adjustment
- Low price point compared to competitors
“This is the best infant/toddler helmet out there. Solidly built, well-made, quality materials AND adjustable with a dial in the back to custom fit it to your child’s head. It FULLY covers the child’s skull and upper neck/occipital area, the straps are firmly secured deep into the inner helmet, it has abundant, cushioned padding inside with well-designed cooling vents and a soft pad on the chin strap, so it won’t irritate your little one. This is it, this is the one. This helmet is as rock solid and wel- made as any of the adult helmets that my husband and I have. No other brand I have tried can compare.” –Amazon review
Keep in mind:
The Joovy Noodle Helmet has few downsides, but if your toddler needs convincing to wear a helmet, they might find the solid colors boring compared with other options.
Let’s be honest: most of the battle around helmets is about getting your child to just keep the darn thing on. The Apusale Kids Dinosaur Helmet addresses that, by making bike safety as fun as a game of dress up. The detailing on this helmet is unmatched, and will really make your little one eager to wear it.
While the design is fun, there are also features to keep mama happy, including the safety light and smooth chin-snap cover. If you’ve struggled to get your toddler to wear a helmet, the Apusale Kids Dinosaur Helmet might be just the trick you need.
- 57 lbs.
- Fits head circumference of 18.9-20.87 inches
- 11 color and detail options
- 3-mode safety light on the back
- Smoothing chin pad to reduce irritation from chin clip
“This helmet is the best one we’ve purchased and we have been through 5+. It’s extremely adjustable. I bought it for my petite 4-year-old, but my 6-year-old has also worn it. She prefers it over her current one. Another great feature is that the buckle is NOT under the chin. The buckle is on the side of the chin/cheek. This makes it much easier to see and click without pinching skin. My only complaint is that the strap coming through the back to adjust doesn’t always stay in place between wears, but works great each time we use it once adjusted.” –Amazon review
Keep in mind:
This is a great helmet, but if your child outgrows the dinosaur phase they might not be as enthusiastic as they once were.
Thousand provides a kid’s helmet with a cause. Or, multiple causes. There’s safety, of course, and this helmet is safe enough to meet regulation in North America and Europe. Then, there’s environmental impact: the company offsets 110% of carbon emissions, and uses eco-friendly materials, like the vegan leather straps.
The magnetic clip ensures that you won’t pinch your toddler’s sweet cheeks, while the turn-dial adjuster means you can always have the right fit.
- 13 ounces
- Fits children with a head circumference of 19-21 inches
- Turn-dial size adjustment
- Vegan leather straps
- Magnetic strap
- 6 vents
- Comes in four solid colors with sticker packs
- 110% carbon offset for production
- Free accident replacement
“My kid loves the whole experience of the helmet! Starting with sticker bombing and as soon as it’s ready, he insisted we should go for a ride! The helmet is his motivation whenever I suggest we go for a ride now!” –Thousand review
Keep in mind:
You might be thinking that your child can install their own stickers on a cheaper helmet, but officially federal recommendations say that you should not put anything on a helmet that doesn’t come with it—including stickers.
If you want a helmet that is barely-there, reach for the TurboSke Kids Toddler Bike Helmet. The helmet provides protection that meets the federal guidelines, while also being very light weight and cool. The helmet comes in two sizes, which are designed to fit kids with a head circumference of 18.9 inches and larger.
A turn-dial size adjuster ensures that you can get a snug fit to keep your toddler safe. If you are particularly safety conscious, you’ll appreciate that the helmet can be ordered with matching knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards. Best of all? This helmet has one of the lowest price points we found.
- 5 ounces
- 2 x 8.5 x 6.7 inches
- Fits head circumference of 18.9 inches and larger
- Turn-dial size adjuster
- 17 vents
- Solid colors
- One-year warranty
- Available as a package with elbow, knee, and wrist pads
“I needed a 2nd helmet for my son’s preschool and I wanted a plain matte helmet and found this one. It looks great and fits my 2 year old son. Its adjustable at the back too. My son does have a larger head than normal so it’s great this fits him.” –Amazon review
Keep in mind:
This helmet is suitable for a head circumference of 18.9 inches or larger. That means it’s better suited for older tots (ages 3+) than younger toddlers. If our toddler is small, this might not offer a snug enough fit.
No one wants to battle their child about wearing a helmet, and with the Raskullz Toddler Astro Cat Bike Helmet you won’t have to. In fact, you might even find yourself requesting that they take the helmet off every now and then.
Kids love the larger-than-live cat face and brightly colored glitter paint. Parents love the easily-adjustable straps and solid construction of this helmet. This is the rare helmet that can keep everyone happy. If this particular design doesn’t capture your imagination, check out the other character helmets by Raskullz—there are plenty, and they all combine fun and function perfectly.
- Weight: 0.57 lbs.
- 3D character ears and snout
- Fits head circumference of 18.9-20.5 inches
- Suitable for ages 3-5
- PVC shell and polystyrene interior
- Adjustable straps
“I bought two of these about a month ago to bring my toddlers on bike trails. They are super cute, and both of my girls love wearing the helmet!” –Dick’s Sporting Goods review
Keep in mind:
The vents on this helmet are very small compared to many competitors. If your toddler runs hot, this might not be a good choice for her.
If you’re just starting your bike adventures and don’t want to spend too much on a helmet, the Nickelodeon’s PAW Patrol Toddler Bicycle Helmet is a great starting point. It’s basic, yes, but kids will love the characters and fun paint job.
The helmet meets all federal safety requirements, and is adjustable using a 360-degree turn-dial switch at the back. It comes in one size, which is designed to last your child through their toddler years. It’s a great product for those who aren’t quite sure how much they’ll be using a helmet, and want to start simple.
- Paw patrol styling in two options
- 5 pounds
- 7x8x4 inches
- Turn-dial adjustment on the back
- Adjustable straps
- Fits head circumference of 18.9-20.5
- Suitable for ages 3-5
“My son loved this helmet! He’s 4 and it fits his head perfectly. It was easy to adjust the straps and clip. It has a very snug comfortable fit. My son also really loves the colors as it matches his bike perfectly.” Walmart review
Keep in mind:
Having one size is convenient, and the turn-dial size adjuster makes fitting this helmet easy. However, with one size the fit is less precise than with come competitors, and this is definitely a helmet that’s better suited for older toddlers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why would a baby need to wear a helmet?
Babies who are riding in a bike-mounted seat or a bike trailer should wear a helmet to protect them in the case of an accident. However, doctors recommend that babies under a year not do these activities, because their neck is not yet strong enough to support a helmet during the normal bumps and jostling of a ride. Some parents also opt to have their baby wear a helmet or head protector when they’re learning to crawl or walk.
How long do babies have to wear helmets?
A baby should wear a helmet any time they’re on a bike or bike trailer. In addition, some parents opt to have the babies wear a helmet when they’re beginning to move, and are more prone to falls and injuries. If your doctor has recommended helmet therapy to treat cranial abnormalities in your infant, your baby will typically have to wear a helmet for about three months.
How do I know if my baby needs to wear a helmet?
Your baby needs a helmet if they will be participating in biking or other sports, even if they’re in a bike trailer. In addition, if you find yourself very worried about your baby as she starts crawling or walking, you might opt to have her wear a helmet at home until she’s more steady on her feet.
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