Best kids' bike helmets: A buyer's guide

The best kid's bike helmets will help keep them safe as they ride. We've put together a buyer's guide on what to look for when choosing

kids' bike helmets
(Image credit: chris catchpole (not free))

Kids' bike helmets need to keep them safe, be comfortable and fit well. Buying a helmet for yourself can be a simple affair; with so much choice you never have to worry about finding something that suits your needs.

When it comes to choosing a kids' helmet, there's a little less choice, and even less information available. However, if your child is already a confident rider or you're setting about teaching your child to ride a bike — be it an early start on a balance bike, or a later introduction on a kids' pedal bike — it's a good idea to invest in a quality children's helmet.

Kids' bike helmets adhere to the same safety guidelines that your high-end racing lid does — and to do so they'll have been tested in some pretty extreme scenarios — so you know they'll provide plenty of coverage and safety, even from an entry-level price point.

Spending more will get your mini-shredder a lighter lid with better ventilation. This will become more important as your little one becomes more interested in cycling, riding further or longer, where they are more likely to get hot and bothered.

Some more expensive kids' cycle helmets gain their extra value simply from looking a little bit cooler. Although you probably don't want to shell out too much purely for swanky patterns, it's worth remembering that as children get older, the helmet can become a barrier to riding, and thus it may well be worth spending a little bit more on one they like.

If you've just bought a kids' bike and are going for the full kit out - check out our guide to the best kids' cycling clothing, too.

Our picks for the best kids' bike helmets

We've picked out some of the best options on the market, and outlined what you need to look for when you're shopping. 

best kids bike helmets

Hornit Mini LIDS kids bike helmet

Specifications

Sizes: 48-53cm, 54-58cm
Claimed weight: 340g/370g
Colours: 13 designs

Reasons to buy

+
Fun designs
+
Integrated LED blinkie
+
Plenty of ventilation

Reasons to avoid

-
On the heavy side

Designed to be a bit more universal (and cooler) than the majority of bike-specific helmets, the Hornit Mini range is inspired by skateboarding and is perfect if your kids ride scooters, skateboards, or other wheeled devices in addition to their bikes.

The Hornit helmets are tested to the CSCP (US) and EN1078 (Europe) safety standards and feature super comfortable padding to ensure children will enjoy wearing the Hornit Mini.

Two sizes are available to fit everyone from toddlers to teenagers (and beyond) and all are fully adjustable and well-ventilated thanks to eleven vents. A neat LED rear light is fitted as standard for a little extra peace of mind in low light conditions.

The Hornit Mini range is huge and there are colours and designs to suit absolutely anything your children might be in to from the Llama design above to an understated Stealth Black version.

best kids bike helmets

Giro Hale kids bike helmet

Specifications

Sizes: 50-57cm
Claimed weight: 280g
Colours: 5

Reasons to buy

+
Quality retention system
+
Built in reflectives
+
US helmet includes MIPS

Reasons to avoid

-
Single size may not fit smaller riders

Coming in a variety of colours, this helmet will not only look the part for any young intrepid cyclist, but thanks to its In-Mould construction, and EPS liner, it will protect them too. In the US, the helmet comes with MIPS.

Its visor is removable and the high quality padding dries quickly so it's a good option for kids that are looking to go a bit faster and push themselves.

The biggest problem with children is that they grow so fast and the idea of buying a new helmet every couple of months is tiresome. But thankfully this comes with Giro's Roc Loc Sport dial-based retention system allowing head sizes from 50cm up to 57cm to fit with ease.

best kids bike helmets

Lazer J1 kids bike helmet

Specifications

Sizes: 52-56cm
Claimed weight: 295g
Colours: 6

Reasons to buy

+
High quality spec
+
Can fit a rear LED light

Reasons to avoid

-
Fits larger head sizes only

With 19 vents, an integrated visor, and Lazer's Advance Turn Fit retention system, the J1 Helmet has almost the same level of features we'd expect from an adult lid.

It's made with an In-Mould manufacturing process, so the outer shell won't separate from the foam over time, and will keep your little one's noggin intact after a spill.

It comes in a range of colours, including a flames graphic, and is compatible with Lazer's TS+ rear LED light, so if they are out late battling Demogorgons, they will still be visible once the sun goes down.

best kids bike helmets

Bell Sidetrack II MIPS kids bike helmet

Specifications

Sizes: 47-54cm, 50-57cm
Claimed weight: 280g
Colours: 5

Reasons to buy

+
Removeable visor
+
Includes MIPS
+
Kids' and youth size options

If your child is a bit older and is looking to take on some serious riding, whether that be off or on road, then the Bell Sidetracked II MIPS is a good transition before they start wearing adult helmets, although there's a smaller size option available for younger kids too.

The helmet has 14 vents and comes complete with MIPS technology which uses a movable inner liner designed to more efficiently dissipate impact in a crash. You'll find this same technology in the top of the range helmets from just about every brand for its claimed ability to absorb rotational forces before they reach the brain.

Kiddimoto helmet

(Image credit: Future)

Kiddimoto's helmets take a skate style, with a more enclosed design for good head protection. The two sizes cover ages from 2 up to 10 and there's lots of padding for comfort, while Kiddimoto offers a 2 year guarantee.

Don't fancy dots? There are loads of different designs and Kiddimoto sells a full-face helmet too if off-road antics are getting too hairy.

best kids bike helmets

Specialized Mio MIPS kids bike helmet

Specifications

Sizes: 46-51cm
Claimed weight: Not specified
Colours: 7 designs

Reasons to buy

+
Fits very young kids
+
Good coverage of rear of head
+
Includes MIPS

Reasons to avoid

-
Likely to grow out of the helmet by age 3

For the kids who haven't quite graduated from their balance bikes, the Specialized Mio MIPS helmet is designed for smaller heads and perfect for toddlers.

Made with an In-Mould construction, there is plenty of rear coverage, and a magnetic buckle to prevent nasty under the chin pinches. Inside is a MIPS liner and Specialized's SC fit system which allows for head sizes from 46-51cm. It comes in a range of funky styles so there's bound to be one your child loves.

best kids bike helmets

Bern Bandito kids bike helmet

Specifications

Sizes: 51.5-54.5cm, 54.5-57cm
Claimed weight: 493g
Colours: 5 designs

Reasons to buy

+
Pluggable vents mean the helmet can be used for skiing, not just cycling
+
MIPS or non-MIPS options
+
Can add an LED rear light

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavier than many adult helmets

Extreme sports company Bern gives a slightly different offering with their kids' lids. For a slightly older child, this Bandito helmet is a good fit for ages 8 up to 15.

Designed to be used on the bike and on ski slopes, the vents can be plugged with an interior liner — great if the temperature drops or you want to do some alpine skiing. There's no obvious difference between the Bandito and Bandita apart from colour offerings.

Met Elfo kids helmet

(Image credit: Future)

The MET Elfo helmet has been specially designed with extra protection of the fontanelle - the most sensitive part of a child's developing head. The helmet is built to be comfortable in a child seat and there's an integrated LED at the rear. There's even a built-in bug net to keep insects away.

For larger kids, the Genio helmet has the same design and colour options and goes from 52cm up to 57cm.

Scott Spunto Junior Plus Helmet

Scott Spunto Junior kids helmet

Specifications

Sizes: 50-56cm
Claimed weight: 220g
Colours: 8

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Smaller option also available
+
Includes a rear blinkie

Taking a similar form to Scott's Vivo Plus mountain bike helmet, the Spunto Junior Plus is a full-featured youth helmet.

With nine sizeable vents, there is no shortage of airflow, while the extended rear coverage and MIPS liner help to keep your kiddo safe when they take a tumble. The helmet will suit heads from 50-56cm in diameter, and with Scott's J-RAS adjustment system your little rider won't outgrow the Spunto in a week. There's a kids' version too, which fits heads from 46cm.

best kids bike helmets

Uvex Air Wing helmet

Specifications

Sizes: 52-57cm, 56-60cm
Claimed weight: 260g
Colours: 3

Reasons to buy

+
Fits larger kids
+
Optional rear LED light

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited colour choice

For a lightweight helmet that still has maximum protection, the Uvex Air Wing is a great choice for early teens riders who want to look cool when riding.

It is a very practical choice with its FAS webbing that can be easily adjusted to the shape of your kid's head and the padding is removable and washable. A pluggable LED light is also included on the back of the helmet which is a comforting nod to visibility.

best kids bike helmets

Raleigh Mystery Spiderman helmet

Specifications

Sizes: 48-54cm
Claimed weight: Not specified
Colours: 2 designs

Reasons to buy

+
Cool design
+
Includes LED rear light
+
Flat back for comfort in a child seat

The coolest helmet on our list, right? This Spiderman themed helmet from Raleigh is an affordable option from a reputable brand for little riders starting out.

It conforms to BS-EN safety standards and features a safety light on the back of the helmet for low light riding.

Raleigh have used lots of soft touch components on this helmet for a comfy all-round fit, and the flat back of the helmet will also ensure comfort when your child is in a bike trailer or child seat.

Boys' helmets and girls' helmets

It may not seem obvious but the majority of helmets out there are gender-neutral in their design and fit. Colours and graphics may differ substantially but ultimately all helmets must pass the same rigorous testing before they can be sold. In terms of structural integrity, all helmets are the same unless you purchase full-face mountain bike helmets which are built to take more abuse, although some may have more extended coverage at the rear or sides of the head than others.

Other things to look out for in a kids' bike helmet

Sizing

Unlike clothes, helmets, on the whole, aren't sold in ages like children's clothing. Instead, most helmets are sold by actual size. For the best fit it's recommended to measure your child's head circumference with a tape measure just above the ears, as this is the measurement most brands use when designing helmets.

If you don't a flexible tape measure, use a piece of string, or even a phone cord, and then measure its length. As kids grow faster than duckweed, look for a helmet that has a size capable of being adjusted using a dial. This will save you some cash in the long run.

Fit

Getting the right fit is key; you don't want to strap on a helmet too tight as it might be uncomfortable or too loose and it won't perform well. A simple test would be to secure the helmet on and have your child shake their head. If the helmet is comfortable and doesn't move around on the head then it will be sufficient.

Ventilation

Having enough ventilation is key if you want your child to have fun when riding in the sun. A helmet that lacks ventilation may cause your child to overheat when riding, which won't be any fun. While you can always wear a woolly cap under a helmet that is too ventilated, you can't punch holes in a helmet that lacks venting.

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