How to keep your child’s head warm under their bike helmet

During a particularly cold spell of weather little heads and ears can get very cold when out on a bike.

This is particularly so for smaller children sitting in cargo bikes, trailer or bike seats, as they're not expending any energy to keep them warm, but even those pedalling can get cold during the winter months.

In this post, we've asked members of the Family Cycling UK Facebook Group to share the ways they keep their children's heads and ears warm whilst cycling throughout the winter. Most hats you own will be too thick to fit under a bike helmet, or they might not cover enough of their head and face to keep warm.

Here are a few hints and tips on how to keep your child's head warm when cycling in autumn and winter.

Don't forget - there's not much point in your child wearing a cycling helmet if it's not fitted and done up correctly so:

  • Make sure any hat or other layer doesn't affect your ability to fit the helmet properly.
  • Remember to resize the helmet back to your child's head when they're no longer wearing the additional layers so it fits snugly.
keeping your child's head warm when cycling

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ti go thermal head band - how to keep your kid's head warm under their bike helmet

Ti-Go Bikes Thermal Headband

A thermal headband is a great idea to keep your head warm in the colder months because they cover their forehead and ears without taking up too much space.

The Ti-Go thermal headband is suitable for use under a helmet or on its own, and it means that you don't get a sweaty top of head as the heat can still escape!

Perfect for keeping those little ears warm against the cold wind.

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Kids Buffs / multi-tubes

I love buffs - they're so versatile! If you don't know what one is, a buff is a tube of material that you can wear around your neck or head or knot into one of many different uses.

They're great for both hot and cold weather use as scarfs, sweatbands, hair bands, hats, and even emergency hankies (or worse!) -  you imagine a use and a buff can probably do it!

They wash and dry easily and can fit in your pocket when not in use.

Buff is the trademarked name from the original manufacturers, so other manufacturers may call them multi-tubes.

The great thing about buffs is they're thin so can fit easily under a helmet, and then can be manipulated to be positioned so it's not obscuring your child's vision - particularly important if they're riding themselves.

You can get thicker polar fleece ones, but these are harder to adjust around the helmet.

They come in lots of different colours and themes so you're bound to be able to find one that your Sprog loves!

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multi tube or buff to keep your child's head warm under their helmet

Kids sized skull caps for under bike helmets

If you're wanting something more thermal and hat-like, then a thermal skull cap that helps cover the ears will fit closely under your child's cycle helmet and also keep their ears warm.

They're available in different sizes and thicknesses - it's worth looking at a ski-specific one if you're riding in very cold temperatures.

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skull cap - how to keep your kid's head warm under their bike helmet

Polarn O Pyret caps and hats for babies and kids

The Swedish company Polarn O Pyret makes a range of different caps and hats for babies as young as two months, through to kids of 12 years. If they're suitable for Swedish winter weather they should be able to keep kids warm on a bike in the UK!

Polarn O Pyret have got a wide selection of hats in different styles and thicknesses, some which will be suitable for under helmets, and other for kids in cargo bikes and trailers who aren't wearing helmets.

polarn o pyret hats to go under kids bike helmets to keep them warm

Balaclavas and face masks

Balaclavas aren't great for kids who are pedalling themselves as they can obscure their peripheral vision, which can be dangerous if they're riding in traffic.

However, for smaller kids in cargo bikes, trailers, and seats they can be a good way to keep their faces warm.

Decathlon do this kid's sized helmet liner balaclava - it's designed for use with a ski helmet, which should mean you can fit under a cycling helmet too. Face masks, which allow a greater field of vision, are better for kids pedalling themselves, but obviously, they don't have the same level of protection on the cheeks, nose and mouth.

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Odlo do this fun kid's face mask which is designed for active kids in cold environments (four-season) and is fast-drying and highly breathable. The material is extra stretchy the mask has a low-profile design so it can be worn comfortably under a helmet.

odlo face mask to go under kids bike helmets to keep them warm
decathlon helmet liner balaclava to go under kids bike helmets to keep them warm

Hooded fleece

If it's a dry day then a quick and easy way to help keep them warm is to use a fleece with a thin hood.

However, this isn't such a good idea if rain is forecast and they're going to be wearing the fleece at your destination.

It can also be a bit uncomfortable if the fleece is slightly on the small side, as the helmet and hood combination can pull the fleece up under their arms.

Go Outdoors and Mountain Warehouse are good places to look for cheap options - just make sure the hood isn't too thick (or lined) or it won't fit under the helmet.

Ski helmet or full-face bike helmet

Cycle Sprog follower Tim recommends using a ski helmet, with the following advice: "We switch to a ski helmet for winter riding. They have smaller vents (usually with the option to close them off), slightly warmer lining and removable covers for your ears.

There's a longer off-season than cycling, which usually means really good deals once the weather warms up. The safety standards are pretty much identical to cycling helmets (in some cases they're actually more stringent about how much of the head is covered).

I ride with one year round because I find the offset buckles more comfortable than the centered buckles on most bike helmets and fewer open vents on top means less risk of sunburn on a bald head. Full face helmets also work well for similar reasons - thicker padding and greater coverage area."

Obviously with this type of helmet you need to consider whether your child will be cycling in traffic and if their peripheral vision is impacted. Read more about our thoughts on kids full faced helmets.

If you've got another way of keeping your Cycle Sprog's head warm under their helmet, then do please leave a comment below, thanks!

Thanks to members of the Family Cycling UK Facebook Group for their wisdom and advice on keeping little ones warm whilst cycling in cold weather.


Mary Shoulvin

Use a skull cap specific to cycling that’s slim enough to fit under your helmet and covers the ears.

Fergus O’Loughlin

Buffs are one of the most useful things to carry if you are taking kids riding when it starts to get cold… they are easily packable and very versatile.


Totally agree Fergus – they take up virtually no space, and can be used for all sorts. Love the fact you can get summer and winter weight ones too! Karen

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