We love the Nutcase Little Nutty helmet (view on Amazon) because it offers kids full MIPS protection and is designed to be durable for rough and tumble kiddos. We also think the Giro Tremor helmet (view on Amazon) is a great option because it comes with all of the safety bells and whistles that a child would need.
You are reading: The Best Helmets for Kids of 2022
How We Selected
When picking the products for this list, we considered advice from safety expert, Nadji Kirby, Senior Program Manager for Safe Kids Worldwide, guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, as well as the product’s overall quality, style, and longevity.
What to Look For When Buying Helmets for Kids
A helmet can be packed with safety features, but if it doesn’t fit properly it won’t perform as it should. “Wearing a properly fitted helmet will allow it to provide as much protection as possible, so it is important that you and your child know how it should fit.” Nadji Kirby, Senior Program Manager for Safe Kids Worldwide, tells Verywell Family.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), “A helmet should be both comfortable and snug…[and it] should not move in any direction, back-to-front or side-to-side.” Additionally, the CPSC notes helmets should sit level on the head, and chin straps should be securely fastened so that it doesn’t move or slide off in the event of a collision.
Kirby says the best way to ensure a proper fit is to do a fit test (Here’s a video from Safe Kids Worldwide that can help, along with these steps):
- “EYES check: Position the helmet on your head. Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
- “EARS check: Make sure the straps of the helmet form a “V” under your ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable.
- “MOUTH check: Open your mouth as wide as you can. Do you feel the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten those straps and make sure the buckle is flat against your skin.”
When purchasing a helmet for your child, it’s important to pay attention to what it is designed for. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says, “Each type of helmet is designed for protection in specific conditions and may not offer enough protection” when used incorrectly. While some helmets are designed for multiple sports and activities, you should not assume they’re safe for all sports.
“For example, you can wear a CPSC certified bike helmet while bicycling, in-line skating, or kick scooting,” says Kirby. “However, if you plan to use the helmet while biking and skateboarding, it is best to get a multi-use helmet.” She further explains that multi-use helmets can get certification from both the CPSC and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
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Type of Helmet Shell
There are different types of helmet designs, and the three most common are in-mold, hard-shell, and soft-shell.
In-Mold: According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI), an in-mold helmet’s “outer shells are bonded to the [interior] foam by putting foam beads and the shell in the mold together.” Essentially, these helmets are all one piece. In-mold helmets offer some of the best protection/safety but are also often heavier and more expensive than other styles.
Hard-Shell: The exterior surface of a hard-shell helmet is usually made of hard plastic, fiberglass, or another strong material, according to the BHSI. This style of helmet helps to disperse the impact in the event your child falls and hits their head.
Soft-Shell: The AAP explains these helmets are not constructed with a hard outer shell but instead are made with an “extra thick layer of polystyrene covered with a cloth cover or surface coating.” In this style, the cover is essential and it must be worn to hold the helmet together. These helmets are often more lightweight but less durable.
Frequently Asked Questions
- When should I replace my child’s helmet?
The most important aspect of a helmet is the fit because if it doesn’t fit then it doesn’t offer the protection it should. So, if you notice your child’s helmet is too snug, not snug enough, slips, or has a chin strap that doesn't buckle correctly, then it needs to be replaced.
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Additionally, the CPSC recommends replacing your child’s helmet after an impact “such as a bicyclist’s fall onto the pavement […] even if there are no visible signs of damage to the helmet.” Finally, look to the helmet’s manufacturer for guidance, because even if the helmet still fits and hasn’t sustained an impact, it can still wear down over time (the CPSC suggests between five and 10 years).
- What age should my child start using a helmet?
Again, safety is always a priority, and the best way to ensure your child’s safety when they are on any kind of bike, skateboard, scooter, or skates is with a helmet. “For many recreational activities, wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a severe head injury and even save your life,” says Kirby, “Therefore, as soon as your child is riding, skating, or scooting whether in a bike trailer or solo, they should have on a helmet.” That being said, the AAP does not recommend infants under 1-year-old travel by bike in any form (even in trailers) or wear bike helmets.
- Can my child use a helmet for all outdoor activities?
While it seems like the best course of action is always to protect your child’s head, a helmet is actually not recommended for some activities. The CPSC says, “Children should not wear a helmet when playing on playgrounds or climbing trees” because the chin strap poses a risk for strangulation if it were to get caught on a piece of equipment or a tree branch. “The helmet may also prevent a child’s head from moving through an opening that the body can fit through and entrap the child by [their] head.” Remember, helmets are great as long as they are used correctly and for their intended purpose.
Why Trust Verywell Family
Ashley Ziegler is a full time parenting writer and has spent hundreds of hours researching and testing different parenting and kids products for both writing assignments as well as for personal use. As a mom to a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old who love riding their bikes, Ashley takes safety and helmets very seriously. When picking the products for this list, she considered advice from safety expert, Nadji Kirby, Senior Program Manager for Safe Kids Worldwide, guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, as well as the product’s overall quality, style, and longevity.