Kids love jumping on trampolines, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says they're too dangerous for home use. Check out these 10 alternative ways for kids to expend their pent-up energy.

By Nicole Harris
February 01, 2021
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Trampolines are backyard staples across America, and they've become even more popular during the coronavirus pandemic.  Some parents love that trampolines help kids blow off excess energy. Others appreciate the physical and mental health benefits of jumping. 

"Particularly during the pandemic, when many team sports are closed, the mental health benefits of providing activities that get your child's heart rate up are important to foster and hard to find," explains Wendy Hunter, M.D., board-certified pediatrician at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and assistant clinical professor of pediatric emergency medicine in the UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics. "There are only so many minutes a day that parents can play tag with their kids, and kids certainly can't go for a jog alone or use a treadmill." 

But despite the benefits of backyard trampolines, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons strongly discourage using them. More than 1 million emergency room visits were attributed to trampoline injuries between 2002 and 2011, according to a report from the AAP, and most patients were younger than 17 years old. The most common injuries were fractures, sprains, head injuries, dislocations, and broken bones—but paralysis, brain damage, and even death have also been reported. 

So how can kids get the mental and physical benefits of trampolines without the risks? Keep reading to learn about 10 safer alternatives.

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Experts also recommend avoiding those mini toddler trampolines because they’re just as dangerous as full-sized ones. Instead, consider letting your child jump around on sofa cushions. This activity is “just as fun to a toddler and far safer,” says Dr. Hunter. As a variation for older kids, play "the floor is lava" in your living room.

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Old-fashioned jump ropes can get those little muscles moving—and they offer some serious cardio exercise. Your child can master jump rope tricks on their own, or they can recruit siblings for multi-person games like Double Dutch.

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These inflatable toys, which are suitable for indoor and outdoor use, can keep kids active for hours. This particular hopper ball has a maximum sustainable weight of 300 pounds. 

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This gadget is simple to use: Your kid wraps the loop around their ankle and "skips" the rope by jumping over it. The ball lights up as your kid moves, encouraging them to burn off even more energy.

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Capture the Flag, SPUD, Red Rover, Ghosts in the Graveyard, Kick the Can... there are so many backyard games to choose from! Teach your kids some of these classics, and watch them run around all afternoon.

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Does your toddler love the massive ball pits at indoor playgrounds? Consider buying your own for jumping, rolling, and throwing! This one comes with mesh siding for keeping injuries (and messes) to a minimum. 

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Not only does Hopscotch require plenty of energy-exerting jumping, it also strengthens balance, rhythm, body control, and cognitive development. Figure out how to play and learn five fun variations here. 

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Gather some household supplies to create a fun outdoor or indoor obstacle course for your kids. Potential  challenges include balance beams, tunnels, mazes, hopscotch variations, and more.

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During warm summer days, almost nothing is more satisfying than running through a sprinkler. To burn even more energy, encourage your kid to try out different jumps and tricks as they go through the water.

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When you don't have time to plan an activity, throw on a free exercise video for kids. Movement releases pent-up energy and is a powerful mood-booster to boot. These 15 videos are highly rated by fitness professionals.

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