A helmet protects your child from serious injury, and should always be worn. When purchasing a helmet, look for a label that says it meets the CPSC safety standard. A helmet should be worn so that it is level on the head and covers the forehead, not tipped forward or backwards. The strap should be securely fastened with about 2 fingers able to fit between chin and strap. The helmet should be snug on the head, but not overly tight. Skin should move with the helmet when moved side to side. If needed, the helmet's sizing pads can help improve the fit. Your child needs to wear a helmet on every bike ride, no matter how short or how close to home. Wearing a helmet at all times helps children develop the helmet habit. Set the example: whenever you ride, put on your helmet. Children learn best by observing you.
Riding a bike that is the right size for your child also helps keep them safe. Do not push your child to ride a 2-wheeled bike without training wheels until he or she is ready. Consider the child's coordination and desire to learn to ride. Stick with coaster (foot) brakes until your child is older and more experienced for hand brakes. Consider a balance bike with no pedals for young children to learn riding skills. Take your child with you when you shop for the bike, so that he or she can try it out. Have them stand straddling the top bar of the bike so that both feet are flat on the ground. There should be 1 to 3 inches of space between them and the top bar. The value of a properly fitted bike far outweighs the value of surprising your child with a new one. Buy a bike that is the right size, not one your child has to "grow into." Oversized bikes are especially dangerous.
We want kids and families to ride their bikes as much as possible. But most of all, we want to keep everyone safe. By following some simple practices, you can have fun on your bike and still be safe.