Do you or your partner enjoy tossing your infant around, flipping them over, and hearing them squeal delightfully? It’s hard not to – aerial stunts always make babies smile. But before you send them flying anywhere, make sure it’s safe.
What kind of play is dangerous for infants?
Depending on your child’s age, playing can be risky. Infants and young kids, especially infants under two, should play gently to protect them from accidental injuries and drop.
Young children’s heads are disproportionately large compared to their bodies, with a lack of neck muscle strength and a developing brain that is still malleable and vulnerable. Infant skulls are relatively soft and pliable, making them pass quickly through the birth canal. As they grow, these develop into solid bones that harden as the child reaches adulthood.
All of these dangerous features make children more prone to potential injury. Actions that cause the head to swing back and forth, or damages due to falls, can also cause young children harm. Violent shaking from frustration or anger can lead to child abuse, and shaking a child, even in older age groups, is highly harmful. This includes shaking for an extended period, but even brief periods can cause significant brain damage or death. Tossing children in the air and bouncing on their knees might be normal behavior to some. However, these are not appropriate activities for young children. Soft play is much better.
Here are some guidelines for enjoyable and secure play:
- Never shake a baby or child.
- Avoid any play that involves jostling the head or neck of an unsupported young infant during this critical time.
- Games involving flipping and tossing have a higher risk of falls, which are especially dangerous for children under 2.
Avoid causing your child discomfort by playing those games. Always ensure you support their head and neck when doing anything involving physical activity with them. If you’re going on a jog, keep them in the stroller; running with a baby carrier can strain their joints or muscles too much. Especially be careful not to pull, jerk, or lift children by their arms to avoid potential partial dislocations at the elbow called “nursemaid’s elbow.”
- Ensure your Baby has a safe place to play in so they don’t get scared or hurt, and they’ll have more fun playing near the ground: don’t play up high on couches and beds, so try to avoid falls. Soft bouncing may be OK for older babies and toddlers, but only if it’s gentle enough for their age. Never bounce them hard enough to scare them, as it could result in injury.
Injury prevention is essential to maintaining children’s safety since accidental accidents are a primary cause of hospitalization and mortality for kids. So remember to pay special attention when playing with your children because although we want them to fly, they need to land safely too.