How to Fit & Adjust a Child’s Bike Helmet

You should always have a child wear a helmet when riding a bike, skateboard or scooter. Really, they (and you!) should wear a helmet when riding anything with wheels!

But it’s not as simple as just wearing a helmet. You also have to make sure the helmet fits right! If a helmet doesn’t stay in place, it can’t protect your child’s head if they crash! One of the most common questions we get is:

How should a bike helmet fit on my child?

CLICK HERE FOR the full version of our How to Fit and Adjust A Child’s Bike Helmet infographic!

Infographic that shows 6 steps to fit and adjust your child's bike helmet. 1. Measure your child's head. 2. Position the helmet squarely on the head. 3. Tighten for a snug fit. 4. Make a V with the side straps. 5. Adjust the chin strap for length. 6. Check the fit regularly.

Here are 5 easy steps to make sure that your child’s helmet is adjusted the right way to protect them in the event of a crash.

    1. Measure your child’s head (before you buy a helmet!)
    2. Position the helmet just right 
    3. Tighten for a snug fit
    4. Make a V with the side straps
    5. Adjust the chin strap for length
    6. Check the fit regularly!

(1) Measure your Child’s Head

You can’t get a helmet to fit well if you don’t buy a helmet that’s the right size!

  • Using a soft tape measure, measure the circumference of the child’s head about an inch above their eyebrows, or the thickest part of their head.
  • Compare this measurement to the head size range sticker found on the inside of the helmet. If you’re buying online, the manufacturer should have their size range listed, or check our website!

 

(2) Position the Helmet Just Right

A helmet that is too low or tilted forward can obstruct a child’s view while riding. A helmet that’s too high or tilted back won’t protect a child’s face or forehead sufficiently.

  • Remove any thick ponytails or hair clips that may prevent the helmet from sitting flush on a child’s head.
  • Place the helmet squarely on top of your child’s head. 
  • The helmet should sit about two finger widths above the child’s eyebrows.  
  • TEST: A properly positioned helmet should stick out past the tip of a child’s nose when viewed from the side. You can test this by having your child tap their helmet against the wall.

 

(3) Tighten for a Snug Fit

A helmet should be firmly, but comfortably in place.

  • Once the helmet is sitting correctly on the head, and before you buckle the helmet, tighten the dial-adjust knob on the back of the helmet. 
  • Turn the knob until the internal cage is snug, but not uncomfortable, on your child’s head.
  • If the helmet does NOT have a dial-adjust knob, it should have some pads that come in various widths to widen or loosen the inside of the helmet.
  • SHAKE TEST: To check that the helmet is tightened correctly, have your child shake their head back and forth (without it buckled). The helmet should stay firmly in place.

 

(4) Make a “V” with the Side Straps

Adjusting the sliders on the side straps is required to get a secure fit, but it’s often overlooked.  There are a few newer helmets that don’t have these sliders, so if your side straps are sewn together, just don’t worry about this step!

  • The sliders should be adjusted so that the straps come together to form a V at the base of the child’s ear.
  • This helps keep the helmet centered on the child’s head.  A poorly adjusted slider can cause the helmet to slip forward or back on a child’s head while they’re wearing it.
  • While some sliders lock into place, most are easily able to slide up and down the side strap.  As a result, it’s important to check the position of the sliders regularly.

 

(5) Adjust the Chin Strap for Length

  • The chin strap should be loose enough under the chin to allow the child to buckle it, but tight enough that you can fit just one finger between the chin and strap.
  • 1 FINGER TEST: Can I fit just one finger between my chin and the strap?

 

(6) Check Regularly!

  • You should check the fit of your child’s helmet every time they ride.
  • Adjusting your child’s helmet regularly is just as important as making sure your child is wearing one. 
  • Helmets quickly and easily come out of adjustment.

 

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