Tips for Getting Your Children to Wear Bicycle Helmets


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Establish the helmet habit early.

Have your children wear helmets as soon as they start to ride scooters or tricycles and if they are a passenger on the back of an adult's bike. If they learn to wear helmets whenever they ride something with wheels, it becomes a habit for a lifetime. It's never too late, however, to get your children into helmets. Allow your children to participate in choosing their helmet. They'll be able to let you know if it is comfortable. And if they like the design, they are more likely to wear it.

Wear a helmet yourself.

Children learn best by observing you. Whenever you ride your bike, put on your helmet. Plan bicycle outings during which all family members wear their helmets to further reinforce the message. The most important factor influencing children to wear helmets is riding with an adult who wears a helmet.

Talk to your children about why you want them to protect their heads.

There are many things you can tell your children to convince them of the importance of helmet use.

  • Bikes are vehicles, not toys.

  • You love and value them and their intelligence and need to protect them.

  • They can permanently hurt their brains or even die of head injuries.

Most professional athletes use helmets when participating in sports. Bicycle racers are required to use them when racing in the United States and in the Olympics.

Reward your kids for wearing helmets.

Praise them; give them special treats or privileges when they wear their helmets without having to be told.

Don't let children ride their bikes unless they wear their helmets.

Be consistent. If you allow your children to ride occasionally without their helmets, they won't believe that helmet use really is important. Tell your children they have to find another way to get where they are going if they don't want to use their helmets.

Encourage your children's friends to wear helmets.

Peer pressure can be used in a positive way if several families in the neighborhood make helmet use a regular habit at the same time.

How should a helmet fit?

A helmet should be worn squarely on top of the head, covering the top of the forehead. If it is tipped back, it will not protect the forehead. The helmet fits well if it doesn't move around on the head or slide down over the wearer's eyes when pushed or pulled. The chin strap should be adjusted to fit snugly.


Head injuries can occur on sidewalks, on driveways, on bike paths, and in parks, as well as on streets. You cannot predict when a fall from a bike will occur. It's important to wear a helmet on every ride.

Patient education handouts from TIPP—The Injury Prevention Program help pediatricians implement injury prevention counseling for parents of children newborn through 12 years of age.

The information in this publication should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

© 2020 American Academy of Pediatrics. All rights reserved.

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