Generally speaking, wearing a helmet is better than not wearing a helmet, but let’s not take any chances – always choose function over fashion. Kids scooter helmets should be approved and the certification stickers will be displayed on the helmet. The standards to look for in the United States are CPSC, ASTM, and/or Snell.
- CPSC – United States Consumer Product Safety Commission
- ASTM – American Section of the International Association for Testing Materials
- Snell – The Snell Memorial Foundation, a non profit committed to improving product safety, and advocating stricter testing measures.
*In Canada, look for CSA approval (Canadian Standards Assoc.)
At the time of writing this article, there isn’t really any hemet specifically for kick scooters. There is language in the documentation listed above about activities which pose similar risks of injury, namely, cycling, skateboarding and in-line skating/roller skating. I’m finding that the safety organizations are slow to update and include new types of recreational activities and which helmets are best suited to them, but given the growing popularity of scooters, that’ll change soon. For now, are bike helmets or skateboard helmets better?
With either type, at the very basic level, kids scooter helmets should be snug, have a secure chin strap, and fit level on the head. It should not impede vision, or slide around on the child’s head (more about fit below). It is also important to note that no helmet can prevent a concussion, instead helmets are designed to absorb and disperse the brunt of the impact to prevent fractures and more serious brain injury.
The science behind helmet technology has come a long way from sticking a piece of plastic on one’s head. Today, you’ll see many helmets with MIPS – which stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. The system, developed by a Swedish brain surgeon, is meant to further safeguard against ‘angled impacts.’ Many of the top brands are incorporating this technology into their helmets. Read more about MIPS here.
The Kali helmet in the picture above is the second helmet we bought for our daughter when she out grew the first one.
Are Bike Helmets Good Scooter Helmets for Kids?
Bicycle helmets are great when your kid is just learning and scooting at lower speeds, you can definitely choose an approved bike helmet. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) currently recommends bike helmets as being the best scooter helmets for kids – little kids that is. The approval rating ASTM F-1447 states “This specification covers performance requirements for helmets manufactured for use by recreational bicyclists or roller skaters” (source astm.org). The use of the word “recreational” is an indicator of what level of rider should be at while using this type of helmet. The Canadian AATA website (Alberta Athletic Therapists Association) has interpreted this to mean, and specifies, “low speed” scootering. The term ‘recreational’ disappears when we look at ATSM F-1492 for skateboard helmets (more about that in the next section). Taking age, ability and speed into consideration, as well as ‘how’ the child might fall, and what the head might contact, a snug bike helmet is perfectly fine. The CPSC considers approved bike helmets as one of only a few that can be used across multiple activities. The bonus here is that you may already have an approved bicycle helmet for your kid, so you’re good to go!
Photo by: tomsickova / 123RF Stock Photo
Can my kid use a skateboard helmet?
Yes, but they may not be available in toddler sizes. When kids are older and doing tricks, jumps, and scooting at higher speeds, the helmet must cover the back of the head, which approved skateboard helmets will. In the last section, we learned the CPSA currently recommends bicycle helmets for kick scooter activities, but should be considered ‘recreational’ and ‘low speed.’ Skateboard helmets, by contrast, must conform to ASTM F-1492 which “covers performance requirements for helmets to be used in the activities of skateboarding and trick roller skating” (source astm.org). Notice the absence of the word ‘recreational.’
Kick scooters and skateboards are very similar and pose similar risks of injury, particularly the potential for falling backwards. So the best kids helmets for more advanced scooting would be a skateboard helmet, but be aware of which sizes are available. Some skateboard helmet manufacturers don’t make little kids helmets. The manufacturer may also not be approved for all sizes. Some companies make a ‘one-size’ shell and add more or less foam padding to fit smaller or larger heads, meaning not all sizes will meet the safety standards. Every helmet in every size must have a sticker, or it’s not approved! The website helmets.org has a decent page about dual certified helmets for bikes and skateboards, as well as a few consumer warnings to watch out for (read the article). If it’s approved for skateboarding, it will meet the ASTM F-1492 standard.
The Fit: Kids Helmets for Scooters Must Fit Properly
When worn correctly, kids helmets should be level, resting at about two finger widths above the eyebrows, snug (but not too tight), and the chin strap should be securely fastened, and securely attached to the helmet. You should be able to fit one finger between the strap and the chin, but no more. If the helmet is on properly, you will not be able to slide the helmet down to cover the eyes, or push the helmet back over the child’s head. Have them give their head a shake side to side and up and down, if the helmet does not move, you’re good to go!
Helmet Size and Measuring
Helmets aren’t sold by age recommendation but by size. Each manufacturer has their own helmets for kids size chart they refer to. We’ve outlined the sizes under each helmet on our recommended “Best Kids Helmets” page. Typically youth helmets will be in the 18.5” – 21” range, and after that, they will be into the smaller adult sizes. It is totally possible that your child might fit a smaller adult size, or your kid will fit a helmet for smaller children. The right size helmet for the head measurement is all that matters.
Measure the circumference of the head all the way around by placing the tape measure at the forehead starting just above the eyebrows.
When to replace a helmet?
Bicycle helmets are designed to withstand just a single impact. The foam disperses the energy and the air cells crush and collapse as it absorbs the impact. So even if there are no visible signs of damage, it should be replaced (if the helmet has a Snell N-94 rating, it will be able to withstand a limited number of minor impacts – source). With that said, we’re describing a pretty good crash, one that likely won’t apply to a beginner child on a scooter. However, if your child has had a pretty good tumble off the scooter involving the head, consider not taking any chances and replace the bike helmet.
Skateboard helmets on the other hand are designed to withstand multiple (but a limited number of) ‘moderate’ impacts, meaning no serious crashes. Minor spills happen frequently when learning new tricks so the helmets are designed accordingly.
Inspect the helmet regularly and if there is any sign of damage to the outer shell, or the liner feels crushed or is cracked, the helmet should be replaced.