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Bicycle Helmet Use


Bicycle accidents can cause injuries to the face, brain, and skull. The best way to protect your child from an injury is for him to wear a bicycle helmet. If he does get injured, a helmet may decrease his risk of a permanent or life-threatening injury. Many states have laws that require bicycle helmet use.


Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

Choose a safe bicycle helmet for your child:

Check inside the helmet for a sticker or label stating that the helmet meets safety standards. The helmet should be approved by the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). It may also be approved by the Snell Memorial Foundation.

Check for proper bicycle helmet fit:

Your child's bicycle helmet should fit well. A helmet that does not fit well may not protect your child's head. A poor-fitting helmet may even increase the risk for a head injury. Most helmets come with extra foam or removable pads. Add or take out the foam or pads to help the helmet fit your child's head better.

  • Eyes, ears, and mouth test:

    • Eyes: Place the bicycle helmet on your child's head. It should be centered on top of his head and cover the top of his forehead. The helmet should be at the same level at the front and back of his head. The space between the front of the helmet and your child's eyebrows should equal the width of 1 to 2 fingers. Your child should be able to see the rim of his helmet when he looks up.

    • Ears: Fix the straps so they form a V shape under and in front of his ears. One strap should be in front of your child's ear and the other strap should be behind his ear.

    • Mouth: Fasten the helmet strap under his chin. Ask your child to open his mouth as wide as he can. He should feel the helmet pull down on his head when he does this. Pull the strap until it fits tightly but stays comfortable against your child's chin.

  • Once the helmet is firmly strapped, ask your child to shake his head around. The bicycle helmet should not move. Tighten the strap if the helmet moves with head movement. You may also adjust the pads to make the helmet fit better.

How to get your child to wear a bicycle helmet:

  • Be a role model for your child: Always wear a helmet when you ride a bicycle. Your child is more likely to wear a bicycle helmet when he sees you doing the same.

  • Learn more about bicycle helmet use: Ask about programs in your neighborhood or your child's school that promote bicycle helmet use. Take part in these programs to learn more about proper bicycle helmet use.

  • Let your child choose his helmet: Your child may be more likely to wear a helmet if he chooses one that he likes.

  • Set a family rule about helmet use: Set a clear and simple rule about the need to always wear a helmet when he rides a bicycle.

For more information:

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington , DC 20590
    Phone: 1- 888 - 327-4236
    Web Address:

Contact your child's primary healthcare provider if:

  • You have any questions or concerns about bicycle helmet use and safety.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your child has increased pain after his bicycle accident.

  • Your child is acting differently than usual after his bicycle accident.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.