Here's Why It's Dangerous To Go Down a Slide With Your Child

Putting your child on your lap is not the safest way for your child to enjoy the slide.

Mother holding hand of toddler going down a slide at the park

Tang Ming Tung/Getty Images

One, two, three…whee. It's a common refrain parents say when they go down the slide with their small child or baby on their lap. The well-meaning playground activity is a quintessential part of childhood, and caregivers usually go down slides with their little ones because they think it's the safest way. Children who can't or have just learned to walk may stumble or may be nervous to go alone.

Unfortunately, it's dangerous to join your child on the slide, according to a study first presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in September 2017, which has since been published. Children 5 years old and younger are at an increased risk for lower leg injuries, including broken bones, when they ride a slide on another person's lap, per the research led by Dr. Charles Jennissen, a clinical professor and pediatric emergency medicine staff physician at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

Dr. Jennissen and his team used the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to perform their research. They found that more than 350,000 children under 5 years old were injured on slides from 2002 to 2015, with 36% sustaining broken bones. Toddlers ages 12 to 23 months were more likely to sustain injuries than kids 3 to 5 years old. The toddlers were also 12 times more likely to be placed in another person's lap when injured than the older children the authors studied.

The authors concluded that children are less likely to be placed in another person's lap and injured on slides as they age. They called on healthcare providers to consider the potential for these types of injuries, which can result in tibia (shinbone) fractures. The researchers also believe parents should be informed that a child's foot can catch on the slide's surface when they are in someone's lap, upping the risk of twisting, turning, and broken bones.

There isn't any more recent data that refutes or backs up this study, so it's something still relevant for parents to remember as they visit playgrounds in the future.

There's no need to feel guilt or shame if you've gone down the slide with your child on your lap. You were only having fun with them and probably thought it was the safest way. Understanding the risks—of any activity or parenting strategy—can help you make informed decisions.

The study's authors recommend not going down the slide with a child in your lap. Although parents may think that this practice makes the activity more safe, it can actually lead to more harm.

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  1. Playground slide-related injuries in preschool children: increased risk of lower extremity injuries when riding on laps. Inj Epidemiol. 2018.

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