Kids should take advantage of the warmer months to be active outdoors. Riding tricycles and bikes is as much a part of summer as ice cream and running through the sprinkler. It’s our responsibility as parents to protect our children from unnecessary injury.
Biking is a fun sport and family activity but it can be risky without a safety helmet, particularly for children under three years of age. Babies are born with soft skulls to facilitate the birth process and allow their brains to grow, but this means their heads are especially susceptible to harm. The “soft spot” usually disappears around 2 years of age but children can still sustain a head injury even from a relatively minor fall if they are not wearing a proper safety helmet. I encourage parents to keep this in mind: if you dropped a ripe melon on concrete from 2 feet off the ground, what would happen? Of course, the melon would break open and the risk to children is equally great if they are not wearing a helmet. In Australia, helmet use is mandatory for all ages including children riding a tricycle or children in a bike carrier or “Chariot” pulled by a bike.
Please make sure your child’s bike and safety helmet are the right size. A child must be able to straddle the bike with both feet on the ground. The fit of the safety helmet is incredibly important. Parents often complain it’s difficult to find helmets for kids 3 years of age and under and it’s true because big box stores often do not sell the small sizes but specialty bike stores generally carry a good selection of toddler helmets. When choosing a helmet, your child should try on several helmets carefully. Level the helmet over your child’s forehead and adjust the chinstrap to fit snugly and comfortably. It should protect the forehead without slipping forward or backward and it should not move unless the scalp moves. A trained salesperson will help you ensure the fit is right. Today, there are several manufacturers producing helmets that are adjustable in size, enabling it to grow with your child and still provide a comfortable and proper fit.
Insist your child always wears a helmet when riding and that he or she buckles it up. It goes without saying that parents must set an example by always wearing their helmets when cycling as well. Remember, a helmet only works when you wear it!