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Specialized Mio MIPS Toddler Helmet Review

With MIPS, a magnetic buckle, and a dial-adjust fit system, the Specialized Mio MIPS toddler helmet is easily one of the best helmets available for little ones. Due to a shallow interior, we found it’s a great fit for babies and toddlers with smaller heads, but many kids won’t be able to use it for its entire size range. Read the review below for all the details!

3 year old wearing Specialized Mio toddler helmet

QUICK LOOK

Specialized Mio Helmet

RATING: Highly Recommended

MSRP: $55

BEST FOR: Parents looking for a MIPS helmet with a magnetic buckle for babies and very young toddlers. Shallow fit makes it less ideal for larger heads or older riders.

SIZE: 46 cm – 51 cm

ADJUSTMENT SYSTEM: Dial-adjust

WEIGHT: 290 g

MIPS: Comes standard

PROS:

  • Magnetic buckle makes buckling so much easier!
  • Low-set dial-adjust system is easy to access and turn
  • MIPS comes standard
  • High-quality, in-mold construction
  • Longer visor for more protection from sun and face plants
  • Fixed side straps never get out of adjustment

CONS:

  • Shallower helmet, won’t fit some heads on higher end of size range
  • MIPS anchors can snag on long hair

Specialized Mio Review – Results of our Test Rides

Size Range

Unlike other kids helmets that offer multiple sizes, the Specialied Mio is only offered in a single size. With a baby/toddler-focused design, it measures 46 – 51 cm in head circumference, offering plenty of room for your baby to grow into their toddler years.

3 year old riding Prevelo Alpha Zero balance bike wearing Specialized Mio MIPS toddler helmet

While 46 cm is pretty standard for the low end of a baby and toddler helmet, many babies have heads smaller than 46 cm. Those little ones would need a smaller helmet like the Giro Scamp which starts at 45 cm.

Far too often we see pictures of babies “swimming” in their helmets. A helmet should be secure and snug. While 1 cm may not seem like a lot, that’s a huge difference on a baby’s head. Just make sure to measure your baby’s head before you buy any helmet. If your baby’s head circumference is 46 cm or greater, the Specialized Mio is solid choice.

Coverage Best for Smaller Toddlers

We tested the Mio out with three different kids: (1) 2.5 year old with a head circumference of 49.75 cm, (2) 3 year old with a head circumference of 48.5 cm, and (3) 4-year-old with 50 cm. All three kids were well within the stated range of 46 – 51 cm.

Specialized Mio toddler helmet sizing with 2.5 year old, 3 year old, and 4 year old

But like all helmets, head circumference isn’t the only factor that affects fit. A child’s head shape also determines if a helmet will be a great fit. While some helmets are more universal than others, we found the Mio to be shallower than many other helmets we’ve tested.

Because the helmet is shallower, your child may grow out of it more quickly than other helmets. The Mio was not a good fit for either of our testers with heads near 50 cm.

While head circumference and head “height” are two different measurements, as a child’s head grows wider, it will also grow taller. There certainly may be some kids that naturally have “shorter” heads that will be a great fit for the shallower Mio past the 50 cm mark.

In our testing with our 2.5 year old, the Mio didn’t fit her at all. Even after adjusting and tightening her helmet perfectly, it sits perched on top of her head, and she quite easily pulls it right off. We haven’t had this issue with any other helmet we’ve tried on her, and other helmets sit much lower on her forehead.

Our 4 year old tester with a 50 cm head seems to be a better fit as the helmet sits a little lower than it does on our toddler. However, it can be pulled off quite easily, and the side straps are problematic, as we’ll explain below.

As you can see in the center image above, the Mio was a fantastic fit for our 3 year old tester with a 48.5 cm head. In fact, it’s a more snug and exact fit than most helmets she’s worn. It’s now her daily-use helmet.

Side Straps and Chin Strap

To help make fitting a helmet quick and easy, the Mio features fixed “sliders” on its side straps. Instead of the standard moveable slider, that often gets pulled or pushed out of alignment, the fixed slider of the Mio can’t move, so it always stays in place.

Standard strap slider on Giro Scamp, vs fixed piece on Specialized Mio toddler helmet

Sliders are very important to the fit of a helmet as they help keep the straps properly aligned (they should come together like a “v” below the child’s ear) which in turn helps keep the helmet securely centered on a child’s head. So the fact that the Specialized Mio’s side straps don’t move can be a huge bonus!

However, this plastic piece was problematic for our 2.5 year old toddler with a 49.75 circumference cm head and our 4 year old with a 50 cm head. Because the helmet is shallower and sits higher on their heads, the plastic piece sat right on top of their ears.

With a standard moveable slider, we could easily have adjusted that piece below the ear to provide a proper fit. With the fixed slider of the Mio, that isn’t possible. As a result, the Mio was a very poor fit for both our 2 and 4-year-old testers. As a result, we do not recommend the Mio for kids with average to taller heads as the helmet cannot be properly adjusted to provide a secure fit.

Plastic side strap piece is too high on Specialized Mio toddler helmet, vs woom helmet

There are a few other helmets that have fixed side straps, but the fixed portion sits much lower and doesn’t cause this same problem. Here you can see the difference between the Mio and the woom small helmet above.

For our 3-year-old tester with a 48.5 cm head , the plastic piece fit just great. However, we did notice that when we did her thick hair in braids or another style that wasn’t plastered flat on her head, the side plastic pieces came up just below her ear, not leaving much room for growth.

While we certainly can’t speak for every child, based on our testing, the helmet will probably be a fantastic fit while your child is in the 46 – 49 cm head circumference range. As your child grows past that, you may encounter fit issues.

Adjustability

To fit the Mio snuggly to your child’s head, you simply turn the dial-adjust knob at the back of the helmet. We love this particular dial-adjust because it sits low beneath the helmet. This makes is very easy to grab and turn, even on a squirming toddler.

This may seem like a minor detail, but after testing dozens of helmets, we can tell you that it’s one of our favorite features! Many other helmets with dial-adjusts are set up farther into the helmet and are more difficult to get your fingers around, like the Giro Scamp.

Magnetic Buckle

This magnetic buckle is easily our favorite feature of the Mio! We wish magnetic buckles were standard on all baby and toddler helmets. Have you ever pinched a baby’s neck in a buckle? It’s awful!

While there are other solid-quality toddler helmets out there, every time I use one I wish it had a magnetic buckle. A seemingly small detail that makes a huge difference – the Mio’s buckle removes a serious pain point from the process of getting out for a ride. There are only one or two other toddler helmets that offer a magnetic buckle.

Magnetic buckle on Specialized Mio toddler helmet

Padding

The internal padding of the Mio is pretty basic, which surprised us at its price point. The forehead padding is sealed to prevent sweat from dripping into a child’s eyes. But the padding at the top of the helmet is not sealed, and comparable to the padding you’d find on a budget helmet. Certainly not a make-or-break, but worth noting. You can see the upgraded sweat-wicking padding on the Joovy Noodle below.

Specialized Mio toddler helmet interior padding vs nicer interior padding of Joovy Noodle toddler helmet

High-quality In-Mold Construction

As one of the highest-quality toddler helmets on the market, the Mio features in-mold construction. In a nutshell this means that the helmet’s foam core and outer plastic shell are fused together so they are one piece. As a result, that plastic shell won’t warp, crack, or come unglued from the foam core, which is very common with cheaper helmets that feature hardshell construction. The plastic shell also covers more of the foam core, which helps to prevent damage and elongate the life of the helmet.

Rear shot of Specialized Mio toddler helmet showing in-mold construction vs cheaper hardshell construction of Joovy Noodle

Visor and Vents

The built-in visor on the Mio is unique for its length. It’s actually one of the longest built-in visors we’ve seen! Built-in visors not only help protect eyes from the sun, but shield the face from injury when your child inevitably face plants. Built-in visors have saved our toddler’s faces on multiple occasions, and are definitely a feature you should look for in a toddler helmet.

Vents and visor on Specialized Mio toddler helmet

With 11 Vents, the Mio isn’t the most ventilated helmet we’ve seen, but the vents are large and well-placed to provide adequate airflow. As a comparison, the Giro Scamp has 8 vents while the Joovy Noodle has 14.

MIPS

One of the primary selling points of any helmet, MIPS is an added layer of safety in the event of a crash. MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. In simple terms, MIPS allows the helmet to slightly rotate around the head upon impact. This helps the energy from a crash to be better absorbed by the helmet regardless of which direction the impact is coming from.

The MIPS systems consists of a thin plastic cage inside the helmet, held in place by yellow anchors which flex and allow for the helmet to rotate. While some helmets cover those anchors with padding, others like the Mio, do not. These anchors snag long hair, so be careful when removing the helmet from your child!

MIPS anchors inside Specialized Mio toddler helmet

Bottom Line

With MIPS and a magnetic buckle, the Specialized Mio MIPS toddler helmet is exactly what many parents are looking for in a helmet. We happily recommend the Mio for babies, but caution that some kids won’t be a great fit as their head circumference grows larger than 49 or 50 cm.

If you’re concerned about potential fit issues, we have had great success with the Giro Scamp, which is available in two sizes that have been fantastic at accommodating our growing toddler’s head. She wore the XS from 12 months to 2.5 years old, and then transitioned to the small.

FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this review.  No monetary compensation was provided for this review and the product was purchased by Two Wheeling Tots. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC.  All content and images are copyrighted and should not be used or replicated in any way. View our Terms of Use.

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