The 8 Best Toddler Helmets for Safe Outdoor Rides

These toddler helmets combine safety features with comfort to offer maximum protection for the littlest riders on the road.
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Updated August 14, 2023
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Falls and crashes are inevitable as your little one learns to ride a bike or a scooter, which is why toddler helmets are so important. Even on the back of an adult’s bike, your child is vulnerable to falls. The best toddler helmet should not only help protect your kiddo’s brain and skull, but it should also be comfortable and cute enough that your opinionated tot will actually be excited to make it a part of their outdoor riding ensemble.

There are a lot of toddler helmets on the market, and it can be overwhelming to try to wade through them all. Keep these tips in mind—and check out our top picks for the best toddler helmets to ensure your little one is protected on the road.

Do Toddlers Need Bike Helmets?

While there isn’t a federal law calling for its use, nearly half of states in the US have laws on the books that require most bike riders who aren’t adults to wear helmets. Required ages vary by state, though. In California, for example, everyone under the age of 18 must wear a bike helmet while riding; in New York, that age is 14.

But regardless of whether it’s legally mandated in your area, a toddler bike helmet should definitely be on your list of things to get your little one. “Accidents and falls are some of the most common causes of head injuries in children,” says Natasha Burgert, MD, a Kansas-based pediatrician and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) spokesperson. “As soon as children start riding a bike with an adult or independently, a helmet should be required equipment. Starting the routine of putting on a helmet as early as possible makes helmets a normal and expected part of moving play—and parents are the best example of this habit.”

Keep in mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics says that babies under the age of 12 months are too young to sit in a rear bike seat and not old enough to wear a helmet. While infant bike helmets do exist, it’s important to be aware that baby bike helmets are not recommended for those under a year old.

What to Look for in a Toddler Helmet

There’s a lot to consider when choosing the best toddler helmet for your child. A 1999 law mandates that all helmets sold within the US must meet specific safety requirements, so you can rest easy knowing whichever one you pick is up to snuff. Still, even the best toddler helmets can vary in their breathability, style, buckling ease and fit. Here’s what to look for as you shop around:

  • Construction. A toddler bike helmet should be lightweight but sturdy enough to withstand impact. All of our picks fall into one of two categories of construction: In-mold and hardshell. While both construction types meet federal safety standards, in-mold helmets will tend to be lighter but less durable than hardshells.
  • Fit. “All new helmets have passed safety tests, but correctly fitting the helmet is key to protection,” says Burgert. Not sure how to determine the proper fit? We’ve laid out some tips below.
  • Air vents. The best toddler helmets have air vents to promote circulation and keep your child cool.
  • Added safety features. Several of the more expensive toddler helmets feature Multi-directional Impact Protective System (MIPS) technology, which reduces rotational force on impact and helps protect against injuries like whiplash. Experts are divided on whether MIPS technology actually provides more protection. Burgert maintains that all toddler bike helmets sold by reputable dealers have passed equivalent safety tests, and there is no safety advantage to any particular model, but special features may bring you extra peace of mind.
  • Style. While fit and construction are key, the best toddler bike helmet is one your child is actually willing to wear. Bright colors, cute patterns and beloved characters can go a long way here. You might even let your kiddo pick one out for themselves. “Letting your toddler choose their preferred helmet is a great way to go,” says Burgert. “Kids will take ownership quickly of items they are involved in selecting.”
  • Return policy. If you can’t try the helmet on your child before buying, make sure you can either exchange or return it in case it doesn’t fit.

The Best Toddler Helmets

Ready to hunt down the best toddler helmet for your kiddo? Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite picks on the market.

Overall best toddler helmet

Joovy Noodle Bike Helmet
Image: Amazon
What We Love
  • Bright color options make your kiddo easier to spot when they’re riding around
  • Adjustable fit dial allows for a custom fit
Things To Consider
  • Too bulky for some
  • Red color is slightly pink

The Noodle helmet from Joovy comes in two sizes (XS/S and S/M), and has 14 air vents, an extended visor for maximum protection, a pinch guard chin strap and an adjustable fit dial, making it one of the best toddler bike helmets on the market. An integrated bug mesh in the front of the helmet helps protect your child from critters. And an added bonus? It comes in seven bright, fun colors, so you’ll have no trouble getting your kiddo to put it on. Get ready to cruise the neighborhood in safety!

Sizing (head circumference): 47-52 cm to 52-56 cm | Construction type: In-mold | Weight: 1 lb.

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Best helmet for 2 year olds

Bell Sprout Fetch Bike Helmet
Image: Walmart
What We Love
  • Easy to adjust
Things To Consider
  • No dial adjustment
  • May be too small for some

Bell’s Sprout helmet is designed for younger toddlers, with several features that offer specialized protection. Extended rear coverage helps cradle the back of your child’s head, while the no-pinch strap keeps them comfortable as you snap them in. Seven vents provide plenty of air flow, while a self-adjusting fit belt helps hold the helmet in place. And the adorable happy puppy design will make this helmet something a 2-year-old cyclist will be jazzed to wear.

Sizing (head circumference): 47 to 52 cm | Construction type: In-mold | Weight: 9.6 oz.

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Best helmet for 1 year olds

Schwinn Kids Bike Helmet with 3D Character Features
Image: Amazon
Buying Options
What We Love
  • Design young toddlers with love
  • Lightweight
Things To Consider
  • Only three air vents
  • Ears may come off with time

Getting a one-year-old used to wearing a bike helmet for the first time can take some patience. This adorable helmet from Schwinn features cute bear, panda and police officer designs, as well as others, to raise the odds your little one will actually want to wear it. The helmet has a 360-degree dial in the bag for a snug fit. It’s also worth noting that the ears are designed to collapse in the event of an accident.

Sizing (head circumference): 44 to 50 cm or 48 to 52 cm | Construction type: In-mold Weight: 9.6 oz.

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Best MIPS toddler helmet

Nutcase, Baby Nutty, Toddler Bike Helmet with MIPS Protection System and Magnetic Buckle
Image: Amazon
Buying Options
What We Love
  • Clasp is padded to avoid pinching
Things To Consider
  • Slightly heavier than other models
  • Sizing can be tricky to get right

Baby Nutty’s Multi-directional Impact Protection System and protective foam help disperse any force from a fall, giving you extra piece of mind. The design was recently updated to focus on head and neck posture and support. It also includes a magnetic buckle system to avoid any pinched skin, plus 11 vents and bug nets. This toddler helmet will grow with your kiddo and comes in an array of adorable designs, including sharks, dinosaurs, flowers and more.

Sizing (head circumference): 48 to 52 cm | Construction type: Hardshell | Weight: 11.8 oz.

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Best cute toddler helmet

Bern Niño and Niña Youth Satin Helmet
Bern Nino 2.0 Youth Bike Helmet
Image: Dick’s Sporting Goods
What We Love
  • Inner liner is removable and machine-washable
  • Features a hook-and-loop stabilizing adjustment at the back of the head to ensure a proper fit.
Things To Consider
  • Heavier than some other helmets
  • Some parents say it runs large

Popular for its adult gear, Bern also makes some of the best toddler helmets around. The Niño and Niña Youth Satin Helmets feature the brand’s Zipmold+ technology, which consists of liquid-injected foam that’s lightweight but sturdy, providing good impact protection and a high strength-to-weight ratio. The toddler bike helmet also includes a simple but secure Velcro adjustment and soft flip visor to offer additional protection when your child needs it. And while we think the precious summer fruits design is absolutely adorable, don't worry if cute isn't your kiddo's cup of tea: There's a cool shark design too!

Sizing (head circumference): 52-55.5 cm to 55.5-59 cm | Construction type: In-mold | Weight: 1.2 lbs.

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Best comfortable toddler helmet

Helmet Chrome
Image: Maisonette
What We Love
  • Cool color options
  • Lightweight
Things To Consider
  • Only recommended for older toddlers
  • No visor

Banwood, a Berlin-based brand influenced by Scandinavian design, offers a wide range of toddler helmets for boys and girls. Not only are they sleekly designed, but they’re also constructed from a durable ABS hardshell and lined with softer foam to keep your little one comfortable and safe. This toddler bike helmet also has a dial fit adjustment system in the back to make sure it stays secure while your kiddo is on the road. Safety and style? Check!

Sizing (head circumference): 48 to 57 cm | Construction type: Hardshell | Weight: 12.8 oz.

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Best breathable toddler helmet

What We Love
  • Can be worn easily when hair is in a ponytail
  • Dial is easy to use thanks to its oversized rubber knob
Things To Consider
  • Straps take some time to figure out how to adjust
  • May be too small for children with larger heads

This toddler helmet combines fashion with function. Giro’s Scamp includes 11 vents to keep your little one cool, a quick-release chin strap that won’t pinch their skin, soft interior padding and a built-in visor to help them see. You’ll also enjoy the dial that allows you to adjust the helmet as your child grows. Perhaps our favorite part about this toddler helmet? It comes in a variety of bright colors and patterns to choose from. Good luck having them pick just one!

Sizing (head circumference): 45-49 cm to 49-53 cm | Construction type: In-mold | Weight: 8 oz.

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Best budget-friendly toddler helmet

Schwinn Classic Toddler and Baby Bike Helmet
Image: Amazon
Buying Options
What We Love
  • Lower molded shell adds durability and extra protection in the back of the head
  • Built-in sun brim
  • Available in fun prints
Things To Consider
  • Some stickers may peel with time
  • May be too roomy for some

Schwinn’s classic toddler bike helmet is designed for safety, security and comfort—and at under $25, it’s a total steal. The adjustable dial knob offers a great fit for large and small heads alike, and multiple flow vents help increase circulation and keep your kiddo cool. The toddler helmet, suitable for riders aged 3 to 5 years, is also designed with full-range padding and a lightweight microshell design, and comes in this very cute woodland animal print we know your little will just love.

Sizing (head circumference): 48 to 52 cm | Construction type: Hardshell | Weight: 8 oz.

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How We Chose the Best Toddler Helmets

A toddler helmet is an important tool to keep your little one safe on a bike, whether it’s yours or their own. To select the best toddler helmets, we spoke with a pediatrician and AAP spokesperson for her input on what to look for in these helmets. We also consulted guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with the Consumer Product Safety Commission. From there, we tracked down the most popular toddler helmets on the market and narrowed the field based on elements like construction type, sizing options, weight and style. Reviews from real parents were factored in as well to make sure we had the best sense of how these toddler helmets perform for a range of families.

Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.

How Should a Bike Helmet Fit Your Child?

In order to find the right fit for your little one, Burgert says to look for a helmet that sits snugly on your little one’s head and covers the forehead. “If the helmet is too loose, it can fall over your toddler’s eyes and obstruct vision during play, or slide backward and expose the forehead,” she says. “A helmet that moves too far back will not properly protect the skull.” The straps should also be adjustable to make sure the helmet moves only the smallest amount when secured.

To ensure a toddler helmet fits your child correctly, use a soft tape measure to measure your child’s head. You want the helmet to nestle low on their forehead (about one to two finger widths above the eyebrows), the side straps to sit in a “V” shape slightly in front of and under the ears, the buckle to close under their chin and the chin strap to be snug.

To test whether a toddler helmet fits properly, have your child open their mouth wide while wearing it; the helmet should hug their head. You can also follow the guidelines set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Keep in mind that your child’s helmet measurements will change as they grow older.


Natasha Burgert, MD, is a Kansas-based pediatrician and American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson. She went to medical school at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and completed her residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. In her spare time, she loves to travel with her husband and her two kids.

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