From dry-erase helmets to ones shaped like animals and bugs to others in bright colors, many of today's helmets are designed to make kids want to wear them long after the bike is parked or the snowboard stowed.
Some of what's new:
C-Preme's helmet line Raskullz has helmets shaped or painted as dinos, sharks, ladybugs and pussycats complete with fins, antennae, ears and other appendages. There are lightning bolts, zebra stripes and a Mohawk trim.
A new toddler Miniz version of the lineup was added this spring, and the Raskullz line adds additional 3-D animal attachments including raccoon tails and feathers. Check out www.raskullz.com.
Helmet Zoo makes colorful, elasticized fleece helmet covers with themes including sea, farm and woodland creatures, fantasy characters, princesses and animals.
The covers will fit any style of helmet, and are cleanable. Go to www.helmetzoo.com.
Low-key-cool Burton has the RED helmet line that includes kids' Avid Grom, a cross-sport helmet for snow and pavement.
No wild graphics, but hip colors like green, white, red, black and orange branded with a logo. Check out www.altrec.com.
Smith Optics makes the Gage snow helmet in matte black or white, or more vivid hues like cyan, bright green and violet.
Also from Smith, a combo of Cosmos Jr. helmet with Galaxy goggles; a magnet and slide-release buckle keep the two pieces together.
The Zoom Jr. has a soft, fuzzy lining, and all have lots of head vents, since kids' heads get sweaty quickly. See www.smithoptics.com.
Biking and scootering kids might like the imaginative range of helmets from Giro. Graphics such as red flames and silver skulls might appeal to older children, while cartoon airplanes, pigs, firefighters and bunnies could attract younger -- or goofier -- kids. Go to www.giro.com.
If your creative kid would like to jazz up an existing helmet, check out the funky line of helmet accessories from Fauhaux that attach with Velcro.
Dreadlox come in black, green, blue or multicolored; spiky Punkrox come in pink or red. See www.fohawx.com.
The DIY crowd may also go for Wipeout's helmet and dry-erase marker kits. White, black, pink and green helmets can be decorated with kids' own designs or the stencils provided. Those include rockets, peace signs, clouds and stars. Check out www.iwipeout.com.
•The best way to get your child to wear a helmet is to wear one yourself.
Start the helmet rule early and be consistent.
Point out sports pros wearing helmets
The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
Fitting a helmet
•Ask the child to look up. They should be able to see the bottom rim of the helmet.
Straps should form a V under the ears and be slightly tight.
When a child opens her mouth wide, the helmet should hug her head.
There should be no rocking of the helmet at any time.
If the helmet has thick and thin pads, you can adjust the fit without replacing the helmet each year.
Take your child with you to buy the first helmet, and choose the right category: toddler, child or youth.
Replace the helmet if there's been a crash.
Helmets made in the United States must carry the Consumer Product Safety Commission's sticker.
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