“Look, I’m bouncing so high!” And… crash.
You may have seen the recent Facebook post by a mom whose three-year-old son broke his femur bouncing on a trampoline at an indoor trampoline park with his parents. Or, if you have your own high-energy kid who’s decided to try out her best Simone Biles moves on a backyard trampoline, you’ve probably dealt with a few bumps, bruises, or perhaps even broken bones. Because despite the urgent warnings from groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), trampolines continue to be one of the most popular backyard accessories since the Slip ’N Slide, and they continue to send kids to the ER. In fact, the AAP estimates up to 100,000 kids are brought to emergency rooms each year from trampoline injuries, both at home and at trampoline parks.
“I can’t really give safety tips, because there is no safe way for a child to bounce on a trampoline,” says Ben Hoffman, MD, a pediatrician at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, OR, and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Injury and Poison Prevention. “Most injuries happen while there is a parent supervising, and even padding and netting don’t do much to lower the rate of injuries,” he explains.
As we’ve now seen from the viral Facebook post (which has more than 200,000 shares), injuries can be particularly devastating for toddlers, for several reasons. First of all, Hoffman explains, children under five don’t have the muscle or impulse control to protect themselves.
RELATED: 7 Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied
Second, the laws of physics are not kind to small, lightweight children—especially if bigger kids or adults are bouncing at the same time. “About three quarters of injuries happen when there are multiple people on the trampoline,” Dr. Hoffman explains. The bouncers can crash into each other, causing concussions and broken bones, and heavier bouncers can accidentally launch the lighter kids dangerously high up into the air. “If the timing is right, and a heavier person comes down just as the lighter person is coming up, the force can be amplified—it looks very impressive, but the results can be devastating when the child comes down,” he says.
Along with getting knocked off the trampoline onto the ground or crashing into the hard springs or frame, kids can also sustain serious head and neck injuries from failed attempts at somersaults and flips.
So bottom line is, if your kid is over age six and really, really wants to bounce, make sure there is only one kid at a time on the trampoline and discourage any “tricks” like flips and twists (and be prepared to answer the inevitable question, “What’s the point of going on a trampoline if you can’t flip and crash into each other?”). If your kid is under six, skip it. You want to keep those little bones safe and in one piece as long as possible.