Does Your Child Need to Wear a Helmet When Riding?

Written by Joanna E. Betancourt MD FAAP

Recently, two patients of ours had accidents when they were hit by a car while riding their bikes. Both suffered head trauma because they were not wearing their helmets

The American Academy of Pediatrics reminds us that head injuries can occur on sidewalks, on driveways, on bike paths, and in parks as well as on streets. You cannot predict when a fall from a bike will occur. It’s important to wear a helmet on every ride.

Below are four suggestion that could help you get into the habit of telling your kids to wear a helmet.

  • Are you wearing a helmet? We’ve all heard the saying, “…do as I say, not as I do.” But the truth is, children learn best by observing you. Thus, whenever you ride a bike, set a good example and put on your helmet. Not only will this reinforce the message, but you will be setting a good example.
  • Start Early. If your kids are small, have your kids wear a helmet as soon as they start to ride a tricycle or when they are riding as a passenger on the back of an adult’s bike. If your children learn to wear helmets whenever they ride tricycles and bikes, it becomes a habit for a lifetime.
  • No helmet; no bike riding. Don’t let children ride their bikes unless they wear their helmets. Being consistent is a big part of the process. If you allow your children to ride occasionally without their helmets, they won’t believe that helmet use really is important.
  • Use professional athletes as examples. My husband likes to watch the X-Games. For those that don’t know, X-Games are a yearly competition where athletes perform extreme sports such as skateboarding, roller-blading, motorcycle jumping and various other high risk, death defying stunts. All of those athletes wear helmets at all times. Thus, using professional athletes such as those on the X-Games as an example, drives the message home of how important the use of helmets can be.

Your child needs to wear a helmet on every bike ride, no matter how short or how close to home. Many accidents happen in driveways, on sidewalks, and on bike paths, not just on streets. In fact, the majority of bike crashes happen near home. A helmet protects your child from serious injury, and should always be worn. And remember, wearing a helmet at all times helps children develop the helmet habit.

Thankfully, both patients are doing fine. But these incidents are a sure way to remind parents that helmets are very, very important and should always be worn when bike riding, roller-blading or playing hockey. No exceptions!

For information on how to select the right helmet, clink on the link

Dr. Betancourt practices in the western suburbs of Chicago. She has 3 children and loves to ride her bike with her family. She blogs at:


3 thoughts on “Does Your Child Need to Wear a Helmet When Riding?

  1. I am an avid cyclist and ALWAYS wear my helmet and taught our kids to do the same. However, a few years ago one of our sons got on his bike just to ride to a house halfway down the block and forget to wear his helmet. Just 300 feet way from our front door he hit a rock and fell off of his bike backwards striking his head on the pavement. A neighbor saw it happen and rushed to his aid, but our son was unconscious so they called for the paramedics. He was taken to the local hospital where they found he had multiple skull fractures, so a Flight For Life helicopter was called and he was rushed to the Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee. Our neighbor said our son was riding very slow when he fell off the bike, but he suffered permanent brain damage as the result of the impact (he is basically OK now, but the section of his brain that deals with math was damaged — so I guess he could work in Congress).

    • Wow! What a story. Thanks for sharing that. I hope others will read it and understand that even though it might seem like a little thing, it could potentially be really bad.

      Thanks again,


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