Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Don't do it!

Many pediatricians say young children should not be tossed. Photo by: DEREK RUTTAN The London Free Press. Note: the picture is shown exactly as it is running on the newspaper webpages. The magenta tint was not added by the Rockin' On site. This is a copyrighted image and is being used to make an editorial comment on the image itself. Legally, it cannot be modified.
As anyone who has followed this blog knows, I'm a grandfather. And whenever I see my granddaughter tossed in the air I cringe. Her head seems so big compared to her fragile looking neck. She giggles and clearly loves the roughhousing but I'm not sure tossing a young, small child is safe.

Today was The London Free Press retirees' monthly breakfast. I sat with a couple of former editors and a retired reporter. One topic of conversation that grabbed my interest was the negative talk surrounding today's front page picture. It shows an 18-month-old little girl being tossed high into the air by her dad.

The one editor was absolutely livid that such an image is gracing the front page of the paper. It certainly would have been spiked if he had been running the desk. He saw the image as encouraging behaviour all too common and all too dangerous. He made it very clear he firmly believed small children can be seriously, and totally unintentionally, injured in this type of roughhousing. Never toss a small child; Never!

I came home and did some quick research. The editor was right: Don't toss small children.

Lyuba Konopasek, associate professor of pediatrics at the New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City says, "Being physically playful with your child is a great way to bond and to have fun, but keep it very gentle . . . never include throwing a child or baby into the air in your roughhousing. The potential for a dangerous fall or neck injury isn't worth it."

Rady Children's Hospital, San Diego, a pediatric hospital, advises, "Never shake or toss a baby or a child under age five." Further, this research hospital advises that infants should not be wiggled or bounced.
The children's hospital notes that the heads of babies and young children are heavy, and that the neck muscles are not strong . . . parents, grandparents, and babysitters often don't realize "how easy it is to hurt their baby this way".

Play tossing can injure babies and children.

Not only does Rady advises parents not to toss their baby in the air. The children's hospital states that even though children may laugh and appear to be enjoying the toss, this activity could leave them seriously injured.

As I said at the start of this post, I've seen my 11-month-old granddaughter tossed in the air. I bit my lip every time this was done. No more. I guess I should thank The London Free Press and the former LFP editor. Together they've made my granddaughter's life a little safer.

I hope I may have made life a little safer for the children of those reading this post.

(In the pictured father's defence, my bet is he doesn't just catch his daughter but grabs her and then drops his arms gradually slowing her fall. This would minimize the forces acting on the small child. Still, it is not a good practice.)

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