That free-falling feeling toddlers get from sliding down a slide is captivating. So they do it over and over and over again. (Toddlers have an abundance of patience for their own joys.) It's such simple yet invigorating fun, but are slides safe for toddlers? That noise as their butt hits the ground off the plastic ramp always sounds a little scary.
But as long as they are supervised, small slides are safe, according to board-certified pediatrician Dr. Gina Posner, M.D. She recommends parents not put toddlers on larger slides just yet, but otherwise they're good to go.
Dr. Daniel Ganjian, M.D., a pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, tells Romper that it’s safest to stick to playgrounds that are designed for children less than 5 years old. “Slides for older children are dangerous because the child moves faster, and older kids slide down after your child without waiting enough time for your toddler to get up. As a result, the older child can hurt your child,” he says.
For toddlers about 12 to 18 months, Posner says stick to slides no longer than 4 feet. Once little ones are around 3 years old, they might be ready for the larger slides. If your child can stand up quickly after going down a slide without falling off, they’re ready to go down on their own, says Ganjian.
Another thing about those big slides? Do not slide down them with your child in your lap. While you think that may be safer to slide down holding your child, it isn’t. In fact, Ganjian adamantly says of the safety of this practice, “No way! One out of seven pediatric leg fractures happen when an adult slides down with their child on their lap.” What happens is the child gets trapped under the parent and the bone snaps, Posner explains.
Of course, every kid is different, so consider your child's motor skill development before deciding they're ready. Skills such as climbing and balancing are also necessary for toddlers to get up to the slide and come down the slide safely. After enough visits to busy playgrounds, maybe they'll even start to master waiting their turn.