Bike helmet safety information for infants and toddlers

As of May 1, 2013, all children under the age of 18 must wear a bike helmet while riding on a bike trailer, carrier or riding on a tricycle or a push bicycle (designed for toddlers, with no pedals). The new law raises two very important questions for parents of infants and toddlers:

  1. How old should your child be before riding in a trailer or carrier?
  2. What kind of helmet should a toddler wear then riding on a carrier, trailer, tricycle or push bicycle (designed for toddlers, with no pedals)?  

In answer to the first question, the Winnipeg Health Region recommends that children be at least 12 months old before riding on a bike carrier or in a bike trailer.

There are several reasons for this. Infants under one year of age have large heads and weak necks. The sudden turns and stops of a bike put too much stress on their bodies to stay upright with their head steady. The weight of a helmet adds additional stress on the neck. Infants are also more likely to fall asleep and not be able to support their heads while travelling in a bike carrier or trailer, which could cause suffocation.

But if you choose to take your infant in a bike trailer or carrier, he or she must wear a helmet as they can reduce serious injury by as much as 85 per cent. 

In answer to the second question, here are some tips on what to look for when shopping for a bike helmet:

When shopping for a helmet for your child, look for one that:

  • Is certified by CSA, CPSC, ASTM, ANSI or Snell
  • Is certified as a bike helmet.  When purchasing a multi-sport helmet, be sure that it states that it is recommended for cycling.
  • Fits the shape and size of your child's head
  • Fits your child now, but can be adjusted to fit as he or she grows. 
  • Is comfortable and that your child likes

How to fit your child's helmet

For a helmet to protect your child, it must fit correctly. 

Use a tape measure to find the circumference of your child's head.  The helmet packaging will tell you the size range that it is intended to fit.  

The very smallest helmet would fit an average 6-8 month old, but could be too large for much older toddlers who are small for their age or born prematurely

Choose a helmet that fits snugly. Buy the size that fits right now, not a helmet that your child will grow into. Then use the sizing pads or adjustable band to fit the inside of the helmet to the size of your child's head.  The helmet fits properly when:

  • It does not wobble from side to side, or tilt from front to back.
  • It does not move when your child shakes his/her head in any direction.
  • The helmet stays level across the forehead just above the eyebrows.

Adjust the helmet according to the 2V1 Rule:

  • two finger widths above the eyebrows
  • The straps should form a "V" under each ear.
  • One finger should fit between the chin strap and the chin.

Straps can loosen over time.  Regularly check the fit of your child's helmet and make the necessary adjustments.

Taking care of your child's helmet

Bike helmets should be taken care of so they will continue to offer good protection for their lifespan.  Care should be taken not to drop the helmet which could cause damage.  Also, avoid storing it in a hot place like the trunk of your car since heat can cause the foam to deteriorate. Also, avoid applying stickers to the helmet as this can weaken the plastic.

  • Bike helmets should be replaced every three to five years because the helmet's materials deteriorate over time. 
  • Cycling helmets are intended to withstand one hard impact.  If the helmet has been worn in a crash, or if it has had a hard fall, replace it, even if it does not appear to be damaged.
  • Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning the helmet.

Bicycle Helmets for Infants/Toddlers

It can be challenging to find a helmet small enough to fit a young child.  The table at the bottom of this page lists the smallest helmets that we found available in Winnipeg.   

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently introduced a standard for children over 1 year of age where the helmets arer designed to fit smaller heads. This chart identifies helmets that meet the CPSC standard for children over 1 year of age:

Bike Helmet Make/Model Fits Head Circumference Price before Taxes
Specialized Small Fry Toddler
This infant bicycle helmet is the smallest one and is available at Alterego Sports
44-52cm $60
Bell Tater XS Kids 45-60cm $45
Bell Splash Universal Toddler 46-50cm $45
Giro Spree Universal Toddler 46-50cm $45-55
Schwinn Toddler Helmet 46-50cm $20
Supercycle Kidz Cross Trails Bicycle Helmet (Toddler) 47-50cm $15
Bell Infant Helmet Sprout 47-51cm $17-60

* Helmet pricing information collected from November 2012 - April 2013

Winnipeg Retailer Information

The following is a list of Winnipeg retailers that sell cycling equipment.  Not all retailers sell all sizes and models of helmets.

Alterego Sports
1605 Pembina Hwy
(204) 475-4908 

Bikes and Beyond
233 Henderson Highway
(204) 669-5590 

Canadian Tire
Various locations 

Corydon Cycle & Sports
753 Corydon Avenue
(204) 452-6531

Gooch's Bicycle and Hobby Shops
1046 Portage Avenue
(204) 956-6570

Mountain Equipment Co-op
303 Portage Avenue (at Donald St.)

Natural Cycle Bike Shop
91 Albert Street
(204) 957-5762

Olympia Cycle & Ski
1813 Portage Avenue 
(204) 888-4586

Olympia Cycle & Ski
326 St. Mary's Road 
(204) 237-8909

Portage Cycle and Sport
1841 Portage Avenue
(204) 837-6785

Sampson's Sporting Life
525 Pembina Hwy
(204) 453-5652

Spartan Sports
1952 Main Street
(204) 339-3883  

Walmart Canada
Various locations

Woodcock Cycle Works
433 St. Mary's Road
(204) 253-5896 

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