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Choosing a cycle helmet for your child

Bicycle helmets are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, but commercially produced helmets are made from a standard mould. This mould does not typically fit the craniofacial population.

In order to comply with Safety Certification, a bicycle helmet has to pass a number of tests, including that of impact response. Commercial producers invest heavily in developing their products to comply with these rules, and then sell enough individual units to make a profit.

There is no standard mould for a child with a craniofacial diagnosis, either pre or post corrective surgery (to produce one would cost at least £5000 per individual helmet).

What parents can do

  • When choosing a bicycle helmet, find a large bike shop which stocks a number of different helmet brands; this means there is a variety of potential moulds available.
  • Identify the most experienced member of staff, or the one who is most interested in getting the 'best fit' helmet, and ask to be served by them (you do not want to be served by someone who knows little about fitting helmets, or is new to the role).
  • Choose a bicycle helmet which offers a large area of coverage; BMX-type helmets are better for this.
  • The more expensive helmets tend to have better adjustable fit systems which will secure the helmet front-back. These typically have an adjustable 'wheel' and lock the helmet in place.
  • You are likely to be looking for a slightly larger-sized helmet than would typically be worn by a child of a similar age.
  • Once you've got a helmet that fits securely front-back, then you need to find some extra padding to fit the sides of the head; this is where a BMX-type helmet is useful as it provides more surface area to attach additional pads to.
  • It is worth investing in some extra Velcro sticky tabs and foam pieces of different sizes/shapes which can be fixed in place at the time of the fitting, or later on. Home-made versions may be less expensive than buying pre-made packs online or in the bike shop.
  • This allows the helmet to be offset from the head, and the soft, extra thick comfort padding allows a comfortable fit regardless of most abnormalities.

Headlines advice

Advise families to go to a bike shop to be fitted properly by knowledgeable staff e.g. Edinburgh Bicycle (Scotland, Northern England), Cycle Surgery (Oxford).

"We have heard Micro Scooter helmets and Kiddimoto brands work well for children with craniofacial conditions. Helmets that are easily adjustable, as the child grows, are recommended. Some children have helmets in a larger size or even an adult-sized helmet. Some brands come with extra sponge pieces that can be used to help achieve a better fit."

June 2017