Whether you’re toting your little ones around town in a bike trailer, sending them down the driveway on their fledgling Strider ride or watching from the window as they pedal off to school, you want insurance that their noggin is safe from head injury. Normalizing helmet use works best when we start kids wearing them when they’re young.
We began pulling our son in a Chariot when he was about 8 months old. Sure that his spirit would buck a helmet right off his head, we sheepishly hedged on using a helmet for a month or two—this made mama, in particular, pretty nervous. When our son turned 10 months old, we took him to the bike shop and plopped a helmet on his head. He smiled, big, phew! And from that point forward he has always been eager to wear his helmet, whether he is riding side-by-side with his sister in the bike trailer or brushing his teeth.
Want your kids to think wearing a helmet is the bomb? Here are some observations we’ve made that should help make helmet wearing a snap:
1. Within reason, let your child pick their helmet. Define your criteria in advance. Whether it’s cost or style, some guidelines will help you gently steer your child toward a helmet that you can both feel good about. All helmets sold in the U.S. meet the same safety standards no matter the cost, so picking a helmet based on its cool factor will help them (and you) to actually wear it.
2. Whenever your young (or old) child wants to wear their helmet, let them. Any time our 15-month-old son catches a glimpse of his helmet he points at it and, basically, begs to put it on. He really has brushed his (four) teeth while wearing his helmet. Not only is this adorable, but it’s also a sign that he really loves his helmet and, in his own way, sees it as an essential part of his little world.
3. Wear a helmet yourself. This may work better with wee ones who still think their parents are the most awesome people on the planet. But be assured, even your teens are taking notes and they are definitely taking stock of the “injustice” of different rules that apply to them but not to you. Model for them that you can pull off a helmet with cool and they just might do the same.