Safety Helmets for Toddlers: Smart or Overprotective?

By Charlotte Hilton Andersen, REDBOOK

Babies fall. A lot. It's part of their charm, really. How adorable is it to watch your little one walk with Frankenstein-arms outstretched, wobble for a full five minutes, and then land on his well-padded tushie? Of course, it's not so cute when they take a header into the coffee table and end up with a giant goose egg.

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My solution to this age-old problem was to baby-proof with a collection of baby gates, soft rugs, and foam sticky things that you could put on sharp corners. But now according to a report on MSNBC, parents are taking the opposite approach and instead baby-proofing their baby -- by making them wear helmets as they learn to crawl and walk.

Somewhere, right now, my mother is laughing herself silly as she waves a picture of me as a toddler walking barefoot through a playground with an asphalt surface and rusty metal equipment with so many exposed nails they had a tetanus shot dispenser right next to the hand sanitizer. Of course I'm kidding: There was no hand sanitizer. My mom once accused me of trying to bubble-wrap my kids. Which of course is ridiculous, because then they'd suffocate. Or choke on it. Or get poisoned by the carcinogens. Otherwise, I might have. But while I am much more protective of my kids than my mom was of us (seatbelts, what?), even I had to wonder about the wisdom in the "Thudgard" baby helmets. (Not to be confused with medically necessary helmets that some children wear to correct skull deformities or other problems.)

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True, the time I watched my two-year-old fall off a bench at Costco and smack her tiny head right on the concrete floor was one of those heart-stopping moments of motherhood that I will never forget. But at the same time, falling off stuff is part of being a kid. On the other hand though, does it hurt anyone if a parent puts a helmet on their kid?

How protective of your kids are you?
-Kids learn by making mistakes, even if they get hurt. Free-range kids!
-I baby proof what I can and then try not to worry about the rest.
-Helmets are overprotective parenting at its worst.
-Helmets aren't hurting anyone and they may save a baby from a serious injury.
Let us know what you think: Take our quiz!


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