Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 6: Play Areas/Playgrounds and Transportation

6.4 Toys

6.4.2 Riding Toys and Helmets Riding Toys with Wheels and Wheeled Equipment

Riding toys (such as tricycles) and wheeled equipment (such as scooters) used in the child care setting should:

  1. Be spokeless;
  2. Be capable of being steered;
  3. Be of a size appropriate for the child;
  4. Have a low center of gravity;
  5. Be in good condition, work properly, and free of sharp edges or protrusions that may injure the children;
  6. Be non-motorized (excluding wheelchairs).

All riders should wear properly fitting helmets. See Standard Helmets, regarding proper usage and type of helmet. Helmets should be removed once children are no longer using wheeled riding toys or wheeled equipment. Children should wear knee and elbow pads in addition to helmets when using wheeled equipment such as scooters, skateboards, rollerblades, etc.

Children should be closely supervised when using riding toys or wheeled equipment.

When not in use, riding toys with wheels and wheeled equipment should be stored in a location where they will not present a physical obstacle to the children and caregivers/teachers. The staff should inspect riding toys and wheeled equipment at least monthly for loose or missing hardware/parts, protrusions, cracks, or rough edges that can lead to injury.

Riding toys can provide much enjoyment for children. However, because of their high center of gravity and speed, they often cause injuries in young children. Wheels with spokes can potentially cause entrapment injuries. Wearing helmets when children are learning to use riding toys or wheeled equipment teaches children the practice of wearing helmets while using any riding toy or wheeled equipment. Children should remove their helmets when they are no longer using a riding toy or wheeled equipment because helmets can be a potential strangulation hazard if they are worn for other activities (such as playing on playground equipment, climbing trees, etc.) and/or worn incorrectly.

Motorized wheeled equipment (excluding wheelchairs) used by children in a child care setting does not promote good physical activity (2). Vehicles used by children in child care need to be child propelled rather than battery propelled.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2000 that 23% of children treated in emergency departments for scooter-related injuries were age eight or under (1).

Helmet use is associated with a reduction in the risk of any head injury by 69%, brain injury by 65%, and severe brain injuries by 74%, and recommended for all children one year of age and over (3).

Concern regarding the spreading of head lice in sharing helmets should not override the practice of using helmets. The prevention of a potential brain injury heavily outweighs a possible case of head lice. While it is best practice for each child to have his/her own helmet, this may not be possible. If helmets need to be shared, it is recommended to clean the helmet between users. Wiping the lining with a damp cloth should remove any head lice, nits, or fungal spores. More vigorous washing of helmets, using detergents, cleaning chemicals, and sanitizers, is not recommended because these chemicals may cause the physical structure of the impact-absorbing material to deteriorate inside the helmet. The use of these chemicals can also deteriorate the straps used to hold the helmet on the head.
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Cleaning and Sanitizing Toys Cleaning and Sanitizing Objects Intended for the Mouth Inaccessibility of Toys or Objects to Children Under Three Years of Age Crib Toys Projectile Toys Balloons Helmets
Appendix II: Bike and Multi-Sport Helmets: Quick-Fit Check
  1. Kubiak, R., T. Slongo. 2003. Unpowered scooter injuries in children. Acta Paediatrics 92:50-54.
  2. Griffin, R., C. T. Parks, L. W. Rue, III, G. McGwin, Jr. 2008. Comparison of severe injuries between powered and nonpowered scooters among children age 2 to 12 in the United States. Academic Pediatrics 8:379-82.
  3. Thompson, D. C., F. P. Rivara, R. S. Thompson. 1996. Effectiveness of bicycle safety helmets in preventing head injuries: A case-control study. JAMA 276:1968-73.