Why Riding the Slide With Your Toddler Is Actually a Terrible Idea

 parent riding on slide with kid
Evgeny Bakharev/Shutterstock

If you've ever been to the park with your kids, you've no doubt seen parents riding down a slide with a child in their lap. Odds are, you've probably even done it yourself. The activity is fun, adorable, and a great way to teach little ones the logistics of the slide while they have someone there to make sure they don't hurt themselves. But some new info on injuries caused by riding the slide with your child sheds a light on a real danger we didn't even know existed.

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A recent study presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition found that a staggering 350,000 children under the age of 6 had been injured in slide-related accidents between 2002 and 2015. The majority of those injuries were leg fractures. 

Even scarier, most of those leg fractures -- especially in toddlers aged 12 to 23 months -- occurred when the child's foot got caught on the bottom or side of the slide while riding on his or her parent's lap.

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Considering the fact that children who are going down a slide alone are much less likely to injure themselves than those who are going down on the lap of an adult, researchers says the size and weight of the parent plays a large role in the potential injury of a child. In the event that children's feet or legs get caught on the side of the slide, their low forward momentum is unlikely to cause injury. But if children's feet get stuck while lap-riding, having their parent's weight behind them can force them down the slide anyway, resulting in some pretty serious fractures.

"Many parents and caregivers go down a slide with a young child on their lap without giving it a second thought," said lead researcher Charles Jennisen in a statement to Science Daily. "And in most cases I have seen, the parents had no idea that doing so could possibly give their child such a significant injury. They often say they would never have done it had they known."

As for the solution, it's pretty simple, really. Researchers suggest that children be allowed to go down the slide alone. That might mean limiting slide time if you truly think they're too little to do it by themselves.

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The dangers of the playground are well-known to most parents. And constantly witnessing falls, scrapes, and other injuries related to playground equipment can make it difficult to watch your child completely go it alone. But, as this important warning proves, sometimes letting kids tackle the big slide on their own is actually the safest option.

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