As with any safety equipment used for children for sport there is always a balance to get right between keeping them safe and inhibiting their movements or ability to have fun.
A helmet is considered an absolute must, but you will have to use your own judgement on what other safety equipment your child uses and when.
A helmet will be the most important piece of safety equipment you purchase for your child. They give not only confidence but also provide your child with extra warmth and insulation on a cold day (as well as a little ventilation on slightly warmer days). Whether you hire or buy there are some important things to look out for:
Your child’s helmet should be a good fit. This means that the helmet should be snug around their head but not tight. If your child shakes their head whilst wearing the helmet it shouldn’t move independently from their head.
Obviously this is one piece of snowboard kit that cannot be bought with ‘room-to-grow’! However, there are various helmet brands and types that have adjustable dials or ratchets at the back of the helmet which will give you some leeway on this; plus often manufacturers will include extra padding that can be added to a helmet in various places – both of these methods can give your child a more personalised fit.
Goggles are the natural partner to winter sports helmets and definitely a good idea for children, providing warmth, a better fit with helmets and additional safety. Make sure you have a pair of goggles that fit well with your child’s helmet – avoid too large a gap between the top of the goggles and the top of the helmet. This will keep your child’s goggles in the right place and keep them warmer. However, if you do have gap between the two – don’t forget to put sunscreen on the forehead if the weather is good!
Think about getting the best quality snowsport specific helmet you can. The two ratings you are looking for are: CEN 1077 (Central European Norm) and the ATSEM F2040 (Amrican Society of Testing Materials). If a helmet has either of these you will know that it has passed the correct winter sports safety tests.
OTHER BODY PROTECTION
There are all sorts of other body armour and protection available for snowboarding.
- wrist guards
These can be useful as when you learn to snowboard you will often fall onto your hands. However they can be hard to find in very small sizes, uncomfortable for very young children to wear at first, harder for them to open and close their bindings and gloves can be tricky and hands can get cold.
- knee pads and elbow pads
These can be useful if the snow is a little hard, if your child is a bit kamikaze or moving onto more freestyle snowboarding. They generally are worn under snowboarding coats and trousers and velcroed in position.
- back protectors
These are often the next step in winter sports body armour for kids. It is well worth trying on before you buy because although they are normally sized by childs height often children have longer or shorter legs or torsos than average. They are also worn under coats and are normally secured in place by velcro straps or can also be worn as a zipped up vest.
- impact shorts
These, again can be useful – especially if your child is progressing to freestyle elements in snowboarding – or if they have a habit of falling on their coccyx!They are shorts with strategic padding on the hips, backside and coccyx area and are worn underneath snowboard trousers.
With all body armour always make sure your child’s snowboarding outwear still fits with protection on underneath before you buy any!