Going down on an adult's lap increases a child's risk of leg fractures.
Your baby is big enough to go to the playground, but not quite brave enough to tackle the side on their own. That's why many babies and toddlers take their first trip down the slide on mom or dad's lap, but one mom's viral post is urging parents to send the kids down solo or not at all to prevent a surprisingly common injury.
Heather Clare's now 4-year-old daughter Meadow was 12 months old when the duo took a mother-daughter trip down the slide and unfortunately ended up in the ER. A photograph taken by Clare's husband that day captured the exact moment Meadow's leg got stuck on the side of the slide and broke.
Clare shares the photo on her Facebook account annually in the hopes of letting other parents know what the ER doctors told her: This kind of slide injury happens a lot, and doctors recommend children use slides alone, not on a parent's lap.
"I want parents to understand that there isn't a safe way to ride with your children and that this is a super common injury," Clare tells Motherly.
According to a 2017 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child's risk of injury increases when they slide while on their parent's lap. Researchers found kids' feet often catch on the edge of the slide when riding down in this way. With mom or dad still sliding beneath them, the leg bends backward and fractures.
"Many parents and caregivers go down a slide with a young child on their lap without giving it a second thought," says lead researcher Charles Jennissen, a pediatric emergency medicine staff physician. "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."
Chrissy Teigen is an example of one mom who didn't know about this risk until internet commenters criticized a photo of her and daughter Luna sliding together. Criticism after the fact though isn't helpful, but proactive warnings can be.
That's why Clare is advocating for signage at playgrounds to advise parents that children should not go down the slide with mom or dad.
"I really want to see signs on playgrounds that warn against riding together. I have seen signs about ages for playgrounds, but I specifically want to see signs that warn not to ride together," she tells Motherly.
Now a mom of three, Clare takes a different playground approach with her youngest than she initially did with Meadow and her twin brother Matthew, because she has the information to do so. Her 10-month-old daughter is just about to enter the age range the AAP says is most commonly injured on slides, 12 to 23 months.
"I will put her on a slide, but only as high as I can hold her from the side and guide her down," Clare explains.
She's making different choices now because she knows the risks. And thanks to her viral Facebook post, many more mamas do, too.