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Kids Helmet Sizing Help

by Jim Bartlett October 17, 2016

Kids Helmet Sizing Help

Instructions and advice on how to properly measure and fit a new helmet for your child


Parent to Parent - Finding and fitting a new helmet for your kid can be a difficult and time consuming task. We've consolidated a lot of helpful information below to help you measure your kids head, find the correct size helmet to purchase, and then make sure the helmet sits properly on his or her head. The Bottom Line is this - don't assume head size based on age or perception. Grab a quick (and easy) measurement to significantly improve your task of getting the correct kids helmet for your son or daughter.

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How to Measure Your Kid's Head for a Helmet

We receive lots of phone calls and emails from parents asking how to find the right-sized helmet for their child. Proper helmet sizing 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. To make sure your child's helmet fits properly, you need to measure the circumference (around) his or her head. This is the measure by which helmets are sized, and most helmets are sized in centimeters to give a more precise measurement. Once you know the size of your child's head, you can shop for the proper helmet size.

Whether you're looking for a kid's skateboard helmet, kid's BMX helmet, kid's ski helmet, or other sport-specific helmet, the same measurement principles remain.


Measuring for a Kid's Helmet with a Measuring Tape

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.  This video demonstrates how to measure your own head.


Measuring for a Kid's Helmet with a Piece of String

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 place the string next to a ruler on a flat surface to see how long it is (in centimeters).


Is Your Kid's Helmet Too Small?

The helmet should fit snugly, but not so tight that feels constrictive. It should sit level on the head about one or two finger-widths above your eyebrow. How do you know if the helmet is too small?
  • It's sitting on top of your child's head
  • It's so snug that it leaves a line on his/her forehead
  • It's so snug that your child cannot put on a pair of glasses


Is Your Kid's Helmet Too Big?

As parents, we're used to having our kids grow into their clothes. Shirt/sweater/jacket a little big? No problem, we'll get our money's worth out of it. Protective gear is one area where you don't want to wait for your child to "grow into it." Some signs that a helmet is too big:
  • It wiggles or flops around when you turn your head.
  • It tilts backward or is sliding to the side.

Another way to check the size is, after buckling the helmet, have the wearer open his/her mouth. If the helmet doesn't press against the forehead, it is too big.


How to Adjust Helmet Fit with Fit Pads

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. We cover just about all of Giro helmet fit systems in this article.) 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. An adjustable fit system or using fit pads are really the only safe way to allow your child to "grow into" a helmet.  Check out the fit adjustment on this Giro snow helmet.



A Properly Fitted Kid'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



Aren't Kids' Helmets Sized According to the Child's Age? MYTH BUST!

Age is not a reliable measure of head size. There is just too much variation in the size and shape of little kid heads. One eight-year-old's head 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.
Did you know:
  • 95% of kids up to 8 years old will fit in a 54cm or smaller helmet
  • 50% of kids up to 13 years old will still fit a 54cm helmet
  • 54cm is the average head size of a 12 year old


Beyond Head Circumference, What Else Matters for Youth Helmet Sizing?

Your child's head is still growing, so look for a helmet that is able to get bigger over time. You've already learned how to fine-tune your child's helmet to customize the size. As she/he grows, you can continue to fine tune the fit through either an adjustable dial-in fit system or swapping out the thicker fit pads for thinner fit pads (to make a bit more room inside the helmet). If your kid is under 14-16 years old, finding a helmet that can grow with them for a few years will help reduce your costs. Once they're a teenager, they'll likely beat up or lose the helmet long before they outgrow it.

Need Help?  If you have any questions about sizing, give one of our protective gear specialists a call at 800.930.4084 or email


You can buy a helmet anywhere

Why buy it from us?
  • Our prices are competitive [check] 
  • We have it in stock [check]
  • We have a No-Hassle Returns [check]
Did you know?
  • We're parents
  • We're a family owned business
  • Protective gear is all we do
  • We put our heart into helping people (especially your/our kids) avoid getting hurt as they improve their skills

When it comes to protection, it's comforting to have a specialist on your side. Buy your helmet from us. Together we'll make a difference.

Shop for Kids on Snow

Shop Kids Snow Helmets

Shop for Kids on Mountain Bikes

 Shop for Kids Mountain Bike Helmets

Shop for Kids on BMX or Other Bikes

Shop for Kids BMX Helmets


Learn More About: Bicycle Helmets Learn More About: BMX Learn More About: Helmets Learn More About: How to Choose Guides Learn More About: Kids Learn More About: Mountain Biking Learn More About: Sizing

Jim Bartlett
Jim Bartlett


Founder of XSportsProtective, snowboarder, mountain biker, father of four young kids who love action sports.

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