Tossing babes and little kids skyward mostly seems to be a Dad thing—and plenty mums don’t begrudge the peculiar bonding exercise (but hold their breath while biting their tongue). Yet cute as the photo ops may be, is this actually a safe thing to do?
GP Philippa Kaye says throwing babies under 6 months is a definite no-go because their necks are not strong enough: “They don’t have enough control of their neck muscles and their heads are proportionally big and so being thrown in the air could result in their heads sort of whipping rapidly on their necks. This can lead to whiplash type injuries or even brain injuries.”
And even after that, there’s always a risk: “Children may enjoy the rough and tumble but you still need to make sure you do it safely and, of course, the risk of dropping them increases the higher you throw them.”
Dad blogger fathers_of_daughters recently shared one of his own throw-up (yes; pun intended) snaps on Instagram, and expectedly, the pic sparked a social media debate on how high is too high—even though he’s throwing his older child up into the air, not a baby:
“It’s just me invoking my father’s privilege to chuck a kid in the air, simultaneously setting a new world record while making all mums everywhere feel very uneasy,” he joked. “Please note – no children were harmed in the making of this photo. There was a lot of shrieking with laughter.”
Surprisingly, though, the general consensus was a positive one; it seems the heart-stopping ceremony is so engrained in Dad culture that it’d be sacrilegious to deny fathers.
Says one mum, “That seriously turns my stomach to see… but it’s also when I look the other way and let dad be dad.”
So what’s the safety verdict for kids old enough to play rough? There’s always, always a risk—no matter how small—that you might not catch your child. Ultimately, it’s down to parental prerogative—and responsibility. Dr Philippa offers an alternative that limits the danger:
“So throwing a 2-year-old a few inches is unlikely to be that risky! If you want to stay safe then do the same whooshing type movement, or flying through the air without letting them go – gives all the pleasure with less risk!”