Ski Safety with Kids: How Do I Find the Right Size Ski and Snowboard Helmet for My Child?
If you’ve read our post Ski Safety With Kids: Does My Child REALLY Need a Helmet for Skiing and Snowboarding? then you know that a helmet is a must have piece of equipment for skiing and snowboarding. Now it’s time to figure out how to size your child’s helmet and what your options are. Here are some sizing tips and suggestions for highly rated kids ski and snowboard helmets.
Thankfully, there’s a lot of options that fit within any budget and all are highly rated for safety. But first, let’s start with how do you make sure you’re buying the right size helmet? I know I go into a state of anxiety whenever I have to size ANYTHING for my kids. Seriously, they grow every time you blink, so how in the world do you know you’re buying the right size? Thankfully, it’s not near as challenging as I always think.
1. FINDING YOUR CHILD’S HEAD AND HELMET SIZE. Using a soft tape measure, measure around your child’s head, about an inch above their eyebrows and ears; this should be the largest part of their head. Make sure the tape measure stays level from front to back. (If you don’t have a soft tape measure, you can use a string and then measure it against a ruler.) Measure all the way around their head. Write this number down so you don’t have to keep measuring when you forget the number (Trust me on this one, one of my kiddos had to be measured 8 times before they memorized the number for me so I’d leave them alone!)
Helmet sizes often will vary between brands, so it’s important to check out the helmet brand’s fit and sizing charts to find out what helmet size fits your child’s head. Once you determine the right size based on the size of your child’s head, it’s time to make sure the helmet fits their head the right way.
2. MAKE SURE THE HELMET FITS YOUR CHILD’S HEAD CORRECTLY. Hopefully you are able to try on helmets in person at a store, but if not, make sure to test for the proper fit at home and exchange the helmet for a different size before using it. Here are a couple of things to look for to make sure your child’s helmet is fitting their head correctly and will keep them safe and protected when skiing and snowboarding.
Have them try on the helmet with their hair styled how they’ll be wearing when skiing/snowboarding. Different hairstyles will affect how the helmet fits, so you want to check the sizing with their “snow style”.
Check the coverage of the helmet. It shouldn’t sit too high or low on their head. The front should cover their forehead, but be about 1 in above their eyebrows. The back should be low enough to cover their head, but shouldn’t touch the top of their neck.
Snow-sport specific helmets will often have removable padding that can be adjusted to make sure the helmet fits snugly.
Try on the helmet with the goggles they will wear on the slopes. The helmet should fit snugly on top of the goggles, with no space between the helmet and the top of the goggles. But the helmet shouldn’t sit so low on their head that it pushes down on the goggles.
Make sure that your child can see straight forward and side-to-side. The last thing you want is your child skiing with massive blind-spots!
The chin strap should be centered under the chin and fit snugly, so that no more than one or two fingers fit between the chin and the strap. Have your kiddo open their mouth wide…big yawn! The helmet should pull down on their head. If not, the chin strap needs to be tighter. Once the chin strap is fastened, the helmet should not move in any direction, back-to-front or side-to-side. Grab the helmet and try to move it back on their head and side to side. If no movement, it’s a good fit.
Have your child let you know how it feels. It should be snug, but not so tight that it causes headaches. Most helmets have an adjustable band inside the helmet to make minor sizing tweaks easily. Making sure your child’s helmet is comfortable is the best way to make sure they'll want to wear it all day.
Just for fun, here's a video my daughter made that demonstrates helmet fit. She made it for her hoverboard, but the sizing works the similarly for bike and ski helmets. Anytime you can make helmets a fun experience, go for it!
Alrighty, now that you know what to do, what are some good options? ASTM (the US standard) and CE EN (European standard) are the 2 safety certifications to look for. Make sure the rating is for skiing- some multi-sport helmets are not certified as safe for skiing; you don’t want to find that out the hard way!
A newer technology to look for as well is MIPS. The MIPS Brain Protection System (BPS) is designed to add protection against rotational motion transferred to the brain. Rotational motion affects the brain and increases the risk for minor and severe brain injuries. When implemented in a helmet, the MIPS BPS can reduce rotational motion by redirecting energies and forces otherwise transferred to the brain in the event of a crash.
Here’s a handy list to start from based on high ratings, comfort and quality. Let your child be a part of choosing their ski helmet if possible as well. We want them to WANT to wear their safety gear- what better way than if it’s the awesome color and style they picked out!
Have fun and we'll see you on the slopes!