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Bike Safety for Babies and Toddlers

When should small children begin wearing helmets?
To prevent head injuries, children must wear helmets whenever they ride on bicycles. Check helmets for tags/stickers indicating that they meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission standard. Helmets are sized to fit most children over age one. Babies under age one do not have strong enough neck muscles to support a helmet.

The risk of head injury is highest to elementary and junior-high age riders. But children will learn the helmet habit if they begin wearing helmets when they first start riding on bicycles, or even tricycles. Parents should also wear helmets, both to protect themselves and to show their children that helmets are important for everyone.

Can small children be carried safely on adults' bicycles?
Carrying babies and toddlers in a seat attached to a bicycle is not encouraged, because of the increased risk of injury. The child's weight makes the bicycle top-heavy and hard to maneuver, and the child is very vulnerable to injury if the bicycle falls. If parents decide to carry their children on their bicycles they must be extremely cautious and should wait until the child is about one year old. By then the child's neck muscles will be strong enough to support a bike helmet and the child will be able to sit upright unsupported. Bicycle seats must have foot guards to prevent the child's feet from becoming entangled in the spokes of the wheel.

Bicycle trailers are preferred. They are low and stable, and are built to remain upright if the bicycle falls. Trailers should be well marked with reflectors and flags. Any child riding in a trailer also needs a helmet and should be strapped in.

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Contact the Minnesota Safety Council at msc@minnesotasafetycouncil.org, or 651-291-9150/1-800-444-9150.
474 Concordia Avenue St. Paul Minnesota 55103 USA