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Is roughhousing harmful to our 6-month-old?

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Is roughhousing harmful to our 6-month-old?


Gender differences in how we play with kids are there from the beginning-how dads play with boys versus girls and how moms play with boys and girls differently. So don't expect that your style of play will be or even should be the same as Dad's. And don't be surprised that he treats his son in a manner different than his style with his daughter. Study after study has shown that we show these different patterns and expectations for play. That's another reason why two parents are a good thing-we get different kinds of experiences from each of our parents. And we learn something different about ourselves in these interactions.

Now, how much is too rough? Babies generally like frolic play beginning at about 5 or 6 months, responding by smiling, giggling, and generally signaling that they are having a good time and want more. If they look fearful or unhappy or try to get away, we can say for sure that it's gotten to be too much. Brief somersaults are fun; more than a few seconds upside down usually is uncomfortable and may increase head pressure. So, think of ups and downs as part of normal play, but watch the baby's response and back off if it seems to be getting a negative review from him.-- Suzanne D. Dixon, M.D., M.P.H.

I asked another of our panel, Dr. Angela Rosas, an expert in child injury, about what she thought of the upside-down baby play. Here's her response:
Certainly, shaking the infant or high speed "airplane rides" could be dangerous. The greatest risk is probably from dropping the infant accidentally, which could result in a skull fracture, closed head injury, or fracture of the collarbone, arms, or legs. In general, PUT THE BABY DOWN! Roughhousing is NOT for young infants.  

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