How to Measure Your Kid’s Head for a Helmet
You know that your child needs a helmet for biking, skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding (the list goes on and on). The question is: How do you find the right size helmet? Proper helmet fit is critical to protecting your child. No matter how well-designed the helmet is, if it doesn’t fit right, it won’t protect the way it should. It may even come off during a crash or collision. Children’s helmets are not sized according to age. There is just too much variation in the size and shape of little kids for age to be a reliable measure of head size. One eight-year-old could fit an adult “Medium” while another child the same age would need a child’s extra small. Always size a child’s helmet by measuring the head circumference, not by the age of the child.
Measuring your child’s head (or anyone else’s head) for a helmet is pretty simple. Simply take a tape measure and wrap it around his or her head, about an inch above the eyebrows, keeping the tape measure level all the way around. Use the centimeter side of the measuring tape to get a more accurate measurement. If you don’t have a measuring tape, take a piece of string and wrap it around your child’s head, about an inch above the eyebrows. Mark or cut the string so you get an accurate measurement. Then lay the string down next to a ruler to see how long it is (in centimeters).
The right-sized helmet should fit snugly, but not so tight that feels constrictive. It should sit level on your head about one or two finger-widths above your eyebrow. If it’s perched on top of your child’s head or if it’s so snug that it leaves a line on his/her forehead, then the helmet is too tight.
You can customize the fit and sizing of a helmet either through fit pads or a dial-in adjustment on the back of the helmet. (For instance, Giro helmets feature a number of dial-in fit systems, which you can learn more about on the XSportsProtective website. If your helmet uses fit pads, it will probably include them in three varying thicknesses–very thin, medium, and very thick. The pads easily Velcro in and out of the interior of the helmet.
A Properly Fitted Child’s Helmet
You’ll know that your child’s helmet fits properly when it:
- Fits snugly but comfortably
- Does not wobble or slide around
- Rests level on the wearer’s head, not perched on top of the head, tilted back, or resting on the eyebrows
- Feels secure
Whether you’re looking for a kid’s skateboard helmet, kid’s BMX helmet, kid’s ski or snowboard helmet, or other sport-specific helmet, the same measurement principles remain.