Every time your child rides a balance bike, scooter, pedal bike or skateboard, or puts on roller skates or anything else with wheels, they should wear a helmet – even if they're not going anywhere near a road. Although it's not a legal requirement in the UK, wearing a helmet is a sensible precaution to take to help protect your child's head from injuries if they fall or bump or crash into anything.

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"It's not cars that are the problem," reports the Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents (ROSPA) in their advice on cycle-helmet-wearing for children. "The majority of [cycling-related head injuries] actually happen at very low speed, when the child either falls off their bike or crashes into an object."

But just because they should wear a helmet, it doesn’t mean babies and children will want to wear one. Complaints about itchy heads and tight straps are common when kids wear ill-fitting helmets – or ones they don’t like the look of. Overcome their resistance by choosing a helmet that not only fits well (see our advice on How to fit your child's helmet correctly, below) but also looks great and meets the relevant safety requirements.

With expert guidance and with the help of our child testers, we've tried and tested dozens of helmets to produce a careful selection of the top 10 children's bike and scooters helmets for different ages and at different price points...

Best bike and scooter helmets at a glance

  • Best helmet for the school run: ABUS Youn-I 2.0 Helmet, from £45
  • Best helmet for high-spec safety features: Specialized Shuffle Child LED MIPS Helmet, £50
  • Best helmet for young child in a bike seat: MET Buddy Kids Helmet MET, £26
  • Best helmet for sustainability: Micro Scooters Deluxe Eco Sea Life Helmet, £37.95
  • Best helmet for colour/pattern choice: Kiddimoto Bicycle helmet, £29.95
  • Best budget helmet for a baby or toddler: BTWIN 500 Baby Cycling Helmet, £12.99
  • Best helmet with knee and elbow pads: Lanovagear Kids Helmet, Knee, Elbow Pads and Wrist Guards set, £19.99
  • Best helmet for longer rides: Giro Hale Youth/Junior Helmet, £49.99
  • Best retro-look helmet: Bobbin Bikes Starling Helmet, £34
  • Best budget helmet for an older child: Halfords Junior Leisure Helmet, £20

What to consider before buying a child's helmet, according to cycling experts

Fit and comfort – When it comes to persuading your child to actually wear the helmet you've bought for them, fit and comfort is key. Lightweight helmets are a must, given how quickly heavier ones will become uncomfortable. And you'll need a helmet that can be adjusted to fit your child's head and then re-adjusted as they grow. "Look for a ring adjuster (also known as a ratchet) with webbing inside to ensure a snug fit," says Simon Booth, founder and managing director of children's cycling brand Kiddimoto. Other features that increase comfort include air vents, which will help keep your child's head cool, and extra padding for cushioning. You may want to visit your local bike shop to try on helmets and get some expert advice on fit – even if you end up looking online for the best deals.

Safety – You should make sure your child's helmet meets the relevant UK safety standards. There are 2 safety marks to look for in particular – EN 1078 and EN 1080 – and both should be clearly visible on labels on or attached to the helmet. EN 1078 is for adult helmets as well as children's ones and is all about preventing injury to the head: to meet this standard, says ROSPA, "a helmet must be designed to withstand an impact similar to an average rider travelling at 12mph falling onto a stationary kerb-shaped object from a height of 1m." EN1080 is for young children's helmets specifically and is about the chin strap, which, to meet this standard, should snap off during a collision to prevent the child from choking or being strangled if the helmet snags.

Don't buy second-hand – We love hand-me-downs and pre-loved kids' gear but there are some things that are always important to buy brand new, and helmets are one of them. "Second-hand helmets may have sustained damage that cannot be seen, and, if they're old, they might not meet current safety standards," explains Val Benyon, head of marketing at Frog Bikes.

Returns policy – If you do buy online ensure you know the returns policy for helmets. While most online retailers will accept returns of unused helmets that still have their tags and packaging intact, some stores won't because of the risk that the helmet may have been dropped or damaged since leaving the shop.

Colours/visibility – If your child's going to be riding on a road, a white or brightly coloured helmet increased their visibility to other road users. And, even if you're just sticking to the park and pavements, a strongly coloured helmet or one with fun patterns is likely to be more appealing to your child – and therefore more likely to be put on without wails of protest. Some helmets also have reflectors and even rear LED light to increase visibility.

Here’s our pick of the best children’s bike and scooter helmets:

1. ABUS Youn-I 2.0 helmet, £45

– Best for the school run

Abus-Youn-I 2.0 Helmet

Age suitability: 3 to 7 (small); 7 to 14 (medium) | Sizes: Small (48cm to 54cm) and Medium (52cm to 57cm) | Colours: 8

With its cool, urban style and bold colourways (choose from block monochrome and bright hues, such as Sparkle Green, pictured above), this helmet is bound to appeal to older children. It is light, very well ventilated, thanks to 8 air inlets and 9 air outlets, and has been designed to fit both young cyclists and smaller-headed adults. Plus, it offers top-notch protection with a low profile – the front is slightly elongated for facial protection without the need for a separate visor.

The Youn-I is ideal for children who commute to school on their bikes as it has integrated reflectors and a large rear LED light that's both high and large enough to be seen from the back and sides, with no chance of being covered by a collar or jacket hood. Gabrielle, mum of our child testers Tyler, 9, and Rocco, 6, says, "Both my boys wear this helmet on their rides to and from school because I like the extra visibility they provide, as well as the excellent fit."

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Even if it’s raining or cold, the easy-to-grip adjustment wheel at the back makes it simple for your child to get the perfect fit with gloved or wet hands. And you can even buy a protective and reflective rain cap that covers the helmet, keeping your child's head dry without compromising safety. On warmer days, the integrated fly net is handy. Our only gripe is that the clasp of the chin strap is a conventional click-in one and not magnetic, so it's possible to catch your child’s skin when you're doing it up. Ouch!

"They're not the cheapest helmets on the market but they are constructed extremely well," says Gabrielle, "I'd say if your child is using the helmet 5 days a week, that's money very well spent."

Pros: Lightweight, LED light, reflectors, well ventilated, easy to adjust, fly net, good choice of colours, no need for visor, rain cap available
Cons: Pricey, regular click-in chin strap

Available at: Halfords, Tredz and Wiggle

2. Specialized Shuffle Child LED MIPS helmet, £50

– Best high-spec helmet

Specialized Child Shuffle LED MIPS bike helmet

Age suitability: 4 to 7 | Size: 1 (50cm to 55cm) | Colours: 6

This high-spec helmet boasts fantastic safety features and has a magnetic clasp on the chin strap that removes the possibility of pinching your child's skin. The magnetic buckle was originally built for an adult triathlon helmet, to make buckling the helmet speedy and painless, but it works brilliantly on this child-specific helmet. It's available in some seriously sophisticated colours, including Aqua/Hyper Green Dot Plane (pictured, above), UV Lilac/Cast Berry and Satin Blaze/Smoke Fade, making us rather wish it came in adult sizes.

The Shuffle’s Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) – essentially a plastic cage inside the helmet held by small anchors that flex and bend, which allows the helmet to rotate slightly around the head on impact, so energy from a crash can be better absorbed by the helmet – is what justifies its price. MIPS is usually found in high-end adult helmets but is a welcome addition to children’s helmets, especially for riders who cycle in the road or race.

Lightweight and airy, with plenty of ventilation holes to keep speed demons cool, the Shuffle is easy to adjust thanks to the brand's accurate fit system and fixed-position side straps that stay where they're supposed to (under your child's ear). In low light conditions, the reflective webbing and integrated LED at the back of the helmet help increase visibility for added safety.

The clip-on visor is one of the longest in our selection and great at protecting your child's eyes from the sun and their face from injury if they fall forward but younger riders may be tempted to pull it off, leaving their eyes and faces exposed.

Pros: Lightweight, increased impact protection, LED light, reflective webbing, well ventilated, good choice of colours, magnetic chin-strap clasp
Cons: Pricey, clip-on visor maybe too easy for younger children to detach

Available at: Leisure Lakes Bikes, Tredz and Evans Cycles

3. MET Buddy helmet, £26

– Best for a young child in a bike seat

Studio shot of MET Buddy helmet, MET

Age suitability: 18 months to 4 (approx) | Sizes: 1 (46cm to 53cm) | Colours: 3

MET have been making bicycle helmets for over 30 years and take pride in offering child-specific safety features such as integrated visors, anti-pinch buckles and anti-allergenic internal padding. The Buddy also has a Safe-T Twist dial at the back of the helmet that allows you to gently adjust the size of the helmet to fit your child's head. It's particularly suitable for youngsters sitting in child bike seats as the back of the helmet is flat, to prevent their head from being pushed forward, allowing them to hold their head up and enjoy the ride. At its smallest setting, it's 46cm in circumference, though, which may be too big for a very small toddler.

It's available in a 3 cute designs, featuring pink butterflies (pictured above), blue planes or red/orange animals. For comfort, there's plenty of removable and washable padding, in-moulded insect nets and 6 air vents, while reflective stickers increase visibility. Gemma, mum to our child tester Phoebe, 2, was really impressed with it, praising its "lovely pattern, easily adjustable fit, great safety rating and flat design at the back, which means it works well in a bike seat".

Pros: Good value, easy to adjust, anti-allergenic padding, integrated visor, reflective stickers, well ventilated
Cons: Won't fit very small toddlers, no light, limited choice of colours, regular click-in chin strap

Available at: Amazon and Wiggle

4. Micro Scooters Deluxe Eco Sea Life helmet, £37.95

– Best for sustainability

Studio shot of Micro Scooters Deluxe Eco Sea Life helmet

Age suitability: 2 to 7 (small); 7 to 14 (medium) | Sizes: Small (48cm to 54cm) and Medium (55cm to 58cm) | Colours: 1

This striking helmet has a retro shape and is covered in pictures of whales, dolphins and fish, drawing attention to its eco-friendly credentials and matching an eco scooter made by the same brand. It's made using recycled materials, including rPet – recycled polyester yarn created from plastic bottles that pollute our oceans – in the straps and reprocessed ABS (commonly used to make helmet shells). The vivid colour comes courtesy of water-based paint and even the fabric lining is made from sustainable bamboo fibre, which is naturally breathable and antibacterial.

There's an integrated flashing rear light, air vents and a pinch-proof magnetic clasp. Plus, a rear sizing dial and adjustable side locking dividers ensure a good fit around the head and on the chinstrap. This helmet scored well with Katie, the mum of our child tester, who said, "I’ve been impressed by the magnetic clip on the chin strap – great that I can’t accidentally catch her skin – and by the adjustment ring and the LED, making it easy to fit and improving visibility." That said, the position of the light is at the lowest point of the helmet, on the base of the head, so easily covered by a jacket hood or collar.

Only available in this colour/design, although you can get Micro's Printed Helmets in other designs that don't use recycled materials.

Pros: Made from recycled materials, easy to adjust, magnetic clasp, LED light, well ventilated
Cons: Quite pricey, no choice of colour/design, no reflectors, LED light sits very low down

Available at: Selfridges, Micro Scooters and JoJo Maman Bebe

5. Kiddimoto Bicycle Helmet, £29.95

– Best for colour/pattern choice

kiddimoto dotty bicycle helmet

Age suitability: 2 to 5 (small) and 5 to 10 (medium) | Sizes: Small (48cm to 52cm) and Medium (52cm to 58cm) | Colours: 20

This range of helmets is from kids-only brand Kiddimoto, a UK company whose balance bikes and accessories have been used by royalty and the Beckham children. There are 20 patterns to choose from, including Floral, Red Goggle, Unicorn, Fossil, Skulls and this Dotty print (pictured above).

"Neve loves her Dotty helmet as it's super colourful but still very girly," says Zoe, mum of our child tester Neve, 4. "The fit is very good, which is the main thing, and we'd never seen one like it."

It comes with a 2-year guarantee and safety features including fully adjustable straps, a dial to perfect the fit and a padded liner, all under the BMX-style shaped shell. Made from a tough plastic with high impact resistance, the shiny outer is peppered with 11 cooling vents too. It doesn't have an LED light or reflectors, though.

You can buy a bicycle bell to match (from £9.99) and, for an additional £8.99, the option to have your helmet personalised.

Pros: Good value, easy to adjust, well ventilated, great choice of designs, personalisation and matching bell available
Cons: No light, no reflectors, regular click-in chin strap

Available at: Halfords, Amazon and Kiddimoto

6. BTWIN 500 Baby Cycling Helmet, £12.99

– Best budget helmet for a baby or toddler

Studio shot of Btwin baby cycling helmet 500

Age suitability: 1 to 3 | Size: 2XS (44cm to 49cm) | Colours: 3

Designed to protect the smallest of heads while on wheels – in a child seat on your bike, on a first wheelie toy in the garden or during their first balance bike rides – this tiny, great-value helmet has a sturdy outer shell, an impact-absorbing foam liner and 3 vents, plus a rear dial to tighten the circumference for a good fit and adjustable side straps to keep the helmet in place. Not at all bad for a little over a tenner.

Available in 3 colours – Desert Rose, Petrol Blue and Fluo Lime Yellow (pictured, above) – this lightweight helmet fits the smallest head circumference in our list. There is no light or reflector, though, the chin strap is a conventional click-in style and, with a maximum head circumference of 49cm, you're looking at buying another helmet when your child is 3 or 4.

Pros: Great value, lightweight, smallest fit on our list, easy to adjust, reasonably ventilated
Cons: Not suitable beyond 3 years, no light, no reflectors, limited colour selection, regular click-in chin strap

Available at: Decathlon

7. Lanovagear Kids Helmet, Knee, Elbow Pads and Wrist Guards set, £19.99

– Best helmet with knee and elbow pads

Studio shot of Lanovagear Kids Helmet, Knee, Elbow Pads and Wrist Guards set

Age suitability: 3 to 8 | Size: 1 (48cm to 54cm) | Colours: 3

If you have a child who loves skateboarding, scooting and rollerskating as much as they do cycling, this great-value 7-piece set is definitely something to consider. As well as the helmet, the set include knee and elbow pads, plus a pair of wrist guards. "We like this because of the extra protection," says Carly, mum of our child tester Jayden. "It gave me peace of mind when he was smaller and now he’s a 3-year-old daredevil luckily he's still persuaded to wear the helmet, which has adjusted comfortably as he's grown."

The helmet is adjusted using a dial at the back and there's an extra inner lining (supplied) that help make the helmet fit more snuggly on smaller heads. It's not the most sophisticated helmet and it doesn't have an LED light or reflective feature but it does boast 12 ventilation holes, which is great for keeping kids cool while they’re working those wheels hard.

The elbow and knee pads and wrist guards all feature impact-resistant plastic mounted on soft material that fastens around the body with Velcro straps, making it easily adjustable and comfortable. Choose from Ice Blue (pictured above), Grey and Orange.

Pros: Good value, complete safety set, easy to adjust and has extra lining to help fit on smaller heads, well ventilated
Cons: No light, no reflectors, fairly basic design, limited colour choice, regular click-in chin strap

Available from: Amazon

8. Giro Hale Youth/Junior Helmet, £44.99

– Best for longer rides

Studio shot of Giro Hale Youth/Junior Helmet

Age suitability: 4 to 13 | Sizes: 1 (50cm to 57cm) | Colours: 5

Older children will enjoy wearing this sophisticated lid, which resembles the Giro adult helmet with its sleek profile and removable visor. Just like an adult version, this helmet features a hard body plastic shell bonded to a lightweight shock-absorbing foam, making it both comfortable to wear and durable. It's also ideal for longer and more athletic rides thanks to the inclusion of a whopping 22 vents to help cool even the most enthusiastic rider, and quick-dry padding to help keep things clean.

The helmet has a Roc Loc Sport fit system with an adjustable dial for a precise fit. And though the construction is modelled on Giro's grown-up helmets, the 5 available colours (including the Matte Lime pictured above) are bright and child-friendly. That said, this is a helmet is better suited to older, more confident riders as the removable visor is easy for younger children to take off, leaving their eyes less protected, and it has a conventional clip-in chin strap clasp that can trap skin. Unusually at this price point, although it has reflective strips on the side, it doesn't have a built-in light.

Pros: Lightweight, well ventilated, reflective strips, easy to adjust, reasonable colour choice
Cons: Pricey, no light, regular click-in chin strap, not suitable for toddlers

Available at: Giro, Amazon and Tredz

9. Bobbin Bikes Starling helmet, £34

– Best retro look helmet

Studio shot of Bobbin Bikes Starling helmet

Age suitability: 3 to 14+ | Sizes: S/M (48cm to 54cm) and M/L (54cm to 60cm) | Colours: 11

This elegant, retro-style range of helmets is available in the same gorgeous glossy colours as the iconic Bobbin Bikes. With choices covering everything from Blossom Pink and Ducky Egg to Chrome and Cerise (pictured above), all coming with a caramel-coloured contrasting chinstrap, these helmets certainly look the part.

As well as good looks, these helmet boast respectable safety credentials including fully adjustable dial-fit cradle, chinstrap and EPS foam lining. And with 11 discreet vents, they'll help keep riders as cool as they look. They aren't particularly lightweight but Gabriela, mum of our child tester Francavera, says her daughter "finds her Bobbin helmet so comfortable, she forgets to take it off, even when she's jumped off her bike at the playground and started playing with her friends".

It's disappointing that there's no light or magnetic chin strap included, especially at this price point. We like that the M/L will adjust to fit most adult heads, though – some good longevity there.

Pros: Beautiful design, easy to adjust, good choice of colours, well ventilated, generous larger size
Cons: Quite pricey, not particularly lightweight, no light, no reflective features, regular click-in chin strap

Available at: Bobbin Bikes

10. Halfords Junior Leisure Helmet, £20

– Best budget helmet for an older child

Halfords junior leisure bike helmet

Age: 7 to 16 | Sizes: 1 (52cm to 59cm)| Colours: 2

Proving you can buy a safe, comfortable and attractive helmet for your child without breaking the bank is this great-value helmet from Halfords, which is also available in Pink and Black. It has all the safety features you’d expect, including a protective chin pad and 1-piece construction, but at a fraction of the cost of some of the models on our list, making it exceptionally good value for money.

You can use the dial at the back of the helmet to adjust the size and find the perfect fit, after which you can adjust the side straps. Generous ventilation openings (17 of them) help keep air flowing around the rider's head for a breezy journey too.

While the chin buckle is quick release, it's not magnetic but the detachable visor isn't a drawback since this helmet is only suitable for older children who are far less likely to pull it off. There isn't a light but at this price point you cant complain, especially as a compatible rear LED light can be bought separately for £5 and clipped onto the helmet.

Pros: Great value, easy to adjust, well ventilated
Cons: Only suitable for older children, no light, no reflective features, regular click-in chin strap, only 3 colour choices

Available at: Halfords

How to fit your child’s helmet correctly

Getting the right size is key, as is ensuring the helmet is positioned correctly on your child’s head, because even the most robust helmet won’t protect your child’s head if it doesn’t fit well.

Don’t just guess your child’s head size based on their age: as you'll see from the specs we've pulled out, helmets are sized according to your child's head circumference range. T

"To measure your child's head circumference," says Kiddimoto founder Simon Booth, "use a soft (fabric) tape measure and measure around the widest part of your child’s head, beginning at their forehead about 2 adult fingers’ width above their eyebrow and ears."

If you don’t have a soft tape measure, use a length of string then measure it against a ruler.

Use this measurement to guide you to which size helmet to buy, remembering that most good helmets are adjustable within a certain measurement range. But be careful not to buy a helmet with a top size right on the edge of your child's head circumference, as it may fit too tightly. "Helmets that are fitted too tightly will be uncomfortable to wear and potentially cause skin irritation and headaches," warns Sarah Wyer, accessories buyer at Halfords. "More importantly, too tight helmets don’t offer as much protection from knocks as they should do."

How to position and adjust your child’s helmet correctly

The helmet needs to be flat over the top of the head, covering your child’s forehead but not their view. Place 2 adult fingers horizontally just above the eyebrows: the space above should be where the helmet sits on the forehead.

Ben Gibson, managing director of Micro Scooters UK, says it’s important to make sure the foam pads inside the helmet are securely in place before putting the helmet on and adjusting the ratchet or dial at the back so it feels snug. "Then, with the straps undone," he says, "get your child to shake their head and bend over so their head is pointing to the floor – the helmet should not fall off, even with the chin straps undone."

How to adjust the chinstraps

Clipped together, the chinstraps should lie flat against the head, forming a ‘Y’ at each earlobe. Use 2 fingers to make a V shape and hold them over the adjustment straps. "The adjuster clips of the adjustment straps should sit just around where your fingers meet at the bottom of the V," Simon says. "Alternatively, you can tighten the straps so that they sit just below your child’s earlobes.

"You should be able to fit 1 finger between your child’s chin and the buckle of the chinstrap. It should be tight, but comfortable enough to ride with." 

When to replace a bike helmet

"Most experts agree that a helmet should be replaced 3 to 5 years after purchase. Even if your helmet has never been involved in a crash or accident, the materials in the helmet begin to slowly degrade from that 3-year mark, and its safety cannot be completely guaranteed after that," says Simon.

Obviously, if your helmet has been involved in a crash, you should replace it immediately.

And as your child grows, you’ll need to check they’ve not outgrown their helmet so measure your child’s head every few months.

How we tested

When choosing and testing these helmets we considered price, safety features, adjustability, ventilation, comfort and style.

Out 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our testing during the MadeForMums awards and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club.

Each year, 1000s of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.

Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10 but instead a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we aim to help you discover what is best for your family.

About the author

Gabrielle Nathan has been working as a journalist for nearly 20 years. She began writing about parenting and family travel while pregnant with her first child in 2012.

A keen cyclist, Gabrielle loves pedalling around London, where she lives with her husband and 3 children. Since convincing her husband to ditch his Travelcard in favour of a bicycle, Gabrielle has bestowed a love of cycling on her 2 boys, both of whom cycle to school. She’s working on her little girl, who is getting to grips with a balance bike. 

Pics: Product websites

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