Active Kids

Bike or Multisport Helmet? Choosing the Right Helmet for Your Child

boyhelmet-croppedIn so much of life, looks aren't everything. The saying also applies to sports helmets and remembering that as you shop could possibly save your kid's life.

Recently, in Redmond, Wash., the Seattle Children's and Kohl's Helmet Safety Program gave more than 400 kids new helmets, which provides them a chance for safer play outside.

For kids on bikes or scooters, the standard bike helmets, if worn correctly, will offer excellent protection.

But at this giveaway, children who ride skateboards, in-line skates or race BMX bikes had a chance to pick-up a true multisport helmet that covers them too. And here is where the looks issue comes in.

Many helmets are a multisport style, one that my own boys pushed for a few years ago when they became popular. But Seattle Children's Stacy Helton, who oversees the helmet program says, unless those cooler-looking helmets have passed the higher testing standard, "That multisport helmet style alone won't protect children against the higher impact like it should."

With any helmet, parents should look for a helmet with a CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commision) or Snell sticker inside. But true multisport helmets also should have a sticker inside saying it meets ASTM F1492.

Other tips for choosing a helmet:

- Kids only need one helmet. If they are using it for biking or scootering around, a regular bike helmet is adequate. If the child's activities might include skateboarding, inline skating or BMX bike racing, Seattle Children's recommends families get the multisport type (ensuring it has the ASTM rating) because it can withstand faster falls and higher impact.

- Helmet costs vary, and more expensive is not necessarily better.

- Choose one that fits properly. Most helmets come with several sets of pads so that your child can continue wearing it even after they grow

- Check the fit of the helmet and straps using this 3-point test. Watch this video for tips on fitting.

As Helton reminds parents, wearing a helmet can prevent about 85 percent of head injuries from bike crashes. But it will only protect when it fits well.

Click here for a complete list of Seattle Children's upcoming bike and multisport helmet giveaways.

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