Look for this sticker inside the helmet. It ensures that the design has been tested and complies with current EU safety standards
Cycle Helmets: a parents guide
In a poll conducted for CBBC's Newsround, 8,000 UK primary school children were asked for their views on cycle helmets. 2/3rds said they wouldn't wear one by choice, despite the same number admitting to having fallen off at some stage in their cycling career. Chief among the reasons cited for their unpopularity was the fact that children think they looked silly wearing one.
Put yourself in their shoes...
Cast your mind back to a time when, as a child, your parent insisted you wear something you really didn't like....a coat perhaps, or a certain pair of shoes. Now try and remember the embarrassment you felt when you had to wear 'that coat', or 'those shoes', in front of your mates...it didn't matter how sensible or practical...you still felt daft.
Curiously, when we fit helmets as part of the training in schools, that same feeling lasts for a minute at the most, following a few giggles, once children realize that everyone else is wearing one. Even more curious, children often ask us if they can keep their helmets on during breaktime...what started as a source of ridicule has miraculously transformed into a symbol of status, in the space of half an hour!
Is there something we know and you don't?
Is there something our Instructors are saying to your child about wearing a helmet, that you haven't already told them? Not really. We'll tell them that wearing a helmet is a matter of choice, and point out that it's a sensible choice to make when they ride a bike. It won't stop accidents from happening, but it might prevent a more serious injury when (not if) they do fall off. Children understand this intuitively, so the key factor in overcoming their initial reluctance boils down to aesthetics and peer pressure.
Cycle helmets and the Law
Aside from competitive cycling events, in which approved helmets are mandatory, there are no laws in the UK dictating that they must be worn. Current debate centres around the fact that cycling levels were shown to have declined significantly, following the introduction of compulsory helmet legislation in Australia and elsewhere. Few cyclists feel the need to wear a helmet in countries where cycling is far more prevalent and where the risk of serious injury is much reduced (The Netherlands and Denmark being prime examples), suggesting that the focus for improving cycle safety ought to be directed towards the provision of better training and facilities to encourage uptake, rather than questionable legislation which further endorses the notion that riding a bike is an inherently dangerous activity.
Choosing a helmet that
your child will actually want to wear
First and foremost, it's your child who will be wearing it, so don't buy one on spec, and expect them to be thrilled with your latest acquisition if they've had no choice in the matter.
Helmets come in a vast array of styles and colours, in sizes to fit every age group. It's essential that a helmet looks right, fits correctly and feels comfortable, so take your child, and their best friend, down to the local bike shop to try before you buy.
Choose a retailer who stocks more than one or two brands. No two heads are alike, and there are subtle differences, in terms of fit and adjustment, between one helmet manufacturer and the next. This can make all the difference when it comes to comfort
If you've ever been to a large department store and tried all the hats on display, you'll appreciate the fun that can be had. Choosing a helmet should be no different in this regard; try as many styles as there are available. It doesn't matter if they're too big or too small at this stage.
Try each one in turn. Mum/Dad...you should be trying them too. There's usually a mirror available, but it's great to have a friend on hand to offer their opinion. When one helmet, in particular, seems to fit the bill in the all important 'looks' department, ask the sales assistant to help in selecting the appropriate size. All cycle helmets sold in shops must conform to strict safety standards, so you needn't worry that one helmet is safer than the next. The important thing is that your child likes the look of it and that it fits correctly.
The last thing you should consider is the price. If you value your child's head, and you want them to wear a helmet, then cost shouldn't be the deciding factor. Fortunately, there are some excellent helmets on offer from as little as £20. More expensive models afford similar levels of protection but usually weigh less and have additional cooling.
Cycle helmets are designed to absorb impact and can be damaged when dropped unintentionally. Make sure that your child is aware of this, when you catch them admiring themselves in the bathroom mirror at home, later that day
and they thought nobody was looking...