Dr. Mom: It's safer for your toddler to go down the slide alone

05/03/2012 12:00 AM

02/26/2013 8:10 PM

Toddlers are rambunctious. In all their "I do it" and super-human-strength glory, you've got to love them.

They are the epitome of joy and living life to the fullest. They run, jump, stomp, laugh, cry and scream – all before lunchtime. They test us as parents and really force us to exercise our parenting muscles.

They're truly beautiful.

But they can also turn any parent into a nervous wreck. We set up gates, clear the floor and countertops of choking hazards, and rarely get near a parking lot without reinforcements.

Safety precautions are a must.

However, one thing we should not do with our toddlers is ride with them down that park slide. I know it's tempting. I've done it. I know we think we are being safer by having them ride on our lap. Unfortunately, as it turns out, this common activity is more dangerous for your curious tot.

A recent article in New York Times highlights the danger in this mommy-and- me activity. Orthopedic surgeons report an increasing number of toddler leg fractures resulting from their foot getting caught on the slide while going down.

As their rubber-soled shoe slows them down, the weight of the adult behind them forces them down the slide, all the while twisting that leg and potentially resulting in a spiral fracture. Young children are far more prone to bone fractures than to sprains because their bones are in a rapid state of growth and change.

I know parents this has happened to. I have had a few close calls myself.

Riding alone, toddlers are much better equipped to handle a stuck leg by stopping themselves and re- arranging their position. So this is one situation where we should really listen to our toddler when they say "I do it" and want to ride that slide solo.

It's really a tough balance, this thing we do as parents – knowing when to let go a little and when to hold on tight. It takes trust and courage to face our own fears of the unknown and the inevitable passage of time.

Toddlers really force our hand in this whole letting- go business, don't they?

So, by all means, get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Bring your adorable toddler with you. Apply her sunscreen, affix her hat and give yourself an extra dose of free-range courage. Your toddler's squeals of delight as she glides down that slide all by herself will be your precious reward.

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