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About bicycle helmets

Parents should only buy helmets that meet safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). All helmets that meet this requirement are labeled on the inside of the helmet. It is mandatory that all helmets made after 1999 meet these safety standards. Bicycle helmets can be purchased at bicycle shops, some discount stores, department stores, and toy stores. Parents should never resell, donate, or buy a used helmet. A used helmet may possibly be too old to provide protection, or may have been used in a crash. These are not meant to be used again. The essential part of a helmet is the thick layer of firm polystyrene (plastic foam). This plastic foam crushes on impact during a crash, which absorbs the force of the blow. All helmets are required to have a chin strap to keep the helmet securely in place.

Hard-shell vs. soft-shell helmets:

  • Hard-shell helmets: These helmets have a hard outer shell of plastic that provides extra protection from penetration by sharp objects. It also prevents the plastic foam (polystyrene) from crushing in the event of a crash or fall. Hard-shell helmets tend to be sturdier, but prove to be heavier and warmer than soft-shell helmets.
  • Soft-shell helmets: These helmets do not have a hard outer shell. Soft-shell helmets have an extra thick layer of polystyrene covered by a cloth covering. If the helmet comes with a cloth cover, it must always be worn to keep the helmet together in case of impact.

The main difference between these two helmets is style and comfort. Both types of helmets meet the CPSC safety standards. The soft-shell helmets are lighter than the hard-shell, but may be less durable.

How should a helmet fit?

Helmets should be worn on the top of the head and covering the top of the forehead. If the helmet is tipped back, the forehead is exposed and will not be properly protected in the case of a fall or crash. The helmet should not move or slide while on the head. The chin strap should be adjusted to fit snuggly around the chin of wearer.  There are also many helmets for infants. These helmets are soft-shell due to an infant’s neck, not being strong enough to hold up a hard-shell helmet. Neither helmets nor bike traveling is recommended for babies under 1 year of age.

Information on this site is intended for Angel Kids Pediatrics patients only. Always consult your doctor before beginning, modifying, or discontinuing any treatment plan.

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