Are trampolines safe for toddlers? Trampolines are a fun part of childhood. You may remember your own experiences with trampolines and worry about your children taking the same risks. Trampolines have come a long way since their beginnings, and your child can now even have one indoors.
Trampolines, therefore, are all boon.
Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System show that trampoline injuries increased from 581 in 2010 to 6932 in 2014. Trampoline injuries date back to 1956, according to a study done by Zimmerman.
Trampoline jumping poses a high risk of injury for children. The activity can result in sprains and fractures in the arms or legs and head and neck injuries.
The risk of injury is so high that the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourages the use of trampolines at home. Trampoline park injuries also are on the rise.
Backyard trampolines are more popular than ever, partly thanks to stay-at-home guidelines implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kids love releasing excess energy by jumping, and parents appreciate that trampolines encourage motor development and physical activity. But do the benefits of trampolines outweigh the risks?
Unfortunately, injuries happen for the same reasons trampolines are fun. A child has some, but not total, control over how high she bounces and where she lands.
Please keep reading for more about common trampoline injuries and how to prevent them with expert-approved tips.
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Trampolines Can Cause Serious Injuries
Kids can end up paralysed, brain damaged, or even killed from trampoline injuries in worst-case scenarios. And the younger and smaller a child is, the more likely they are to get hurt.
The most dangerous risks are neurologic injuries typically caused by doing somersaults, flips, or falling from the trampoline.
That said, most trampoline injuries involve dislocations, sprains, head injuries, and broken or fractured bones.
Emergency departments see rising numbers of trampoline-related pediatric fractures each year; the AAP reports that incidences rose from 35.3 per 100,000 person-years in 2008 to 53.0 per 100,000 person-years in 2017.
Nearly 75 per cent of trampoline accidents are caused by children jumping at the same time and crashing into one another, reports the AAP.
Unsurprisingly, the minor child is 14 times more likely to be injured than the larger child. Other common causes of injuries include:
Falling off the trampoline.
- They are colliding with the device’s springs or frames.
- You are incorrectly performing tricks like somersaults and flips.
Is a Trampoline for a 2-Year-Old Safe?
According to the AAP, trampolines should be discouraged for kids below six years.
Not to deny them the fun of rebounding but let’s face it, toddlers could get superficial injuries such as sprains and bone fractures or even more complex ones such as cervical spine and skull fractures.
What Are Some Common Trampoline Injuries?
Research done by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) showed that between 1991 and 1999, over 100000 were treated in hospitals for trampoline-related injuries.
Shockingly, in the same period, 11 deaths were reported from the use of trampolines!
Common trampoline injuries include:
- Broken bones–children jumping on the trampoline are highly likely to have broken bones on their forearms and elbows. One could also hurt their feet or even their spine. This is because they want to try dangerous flips and antics that have them risking their axial skeleton. Children hitting on each other as they jump could also cause these problems.
- Concussions–when they hit their head on the trampoline surfaces, kids are likely to get head concussions. You will see it when your child tends to have dilated eyes and feel tired all the time.
According to a study done by NCBI, the leading causes of trampoline injuries included:
- Awkward landing on the trampoline surface from a jump-53%
- Falling off from the trampoline after a jump–22%
- Colliding with other jumpers–13%
- Doing a dangerous somersault–11%
Does that mean that all forms of trampolines, whether park or mini-trampolines, should be avoided for toddlers?
Well, not really, in my opinion.
Owing to the incredible benefits that we saw on rebounding, you could administer trampoline therapy for your kid but ensure that an adult is nearby to supervise them.
No gymnastic antics or flips are to be allowed. The mini-trampoline should be well padded on the rails, plus with a net enclosure to protect your kid from potential injuries. It should also be placed on soft level ground.
Possible Causes of Trampoline Injuries
Some of the injuries caused when trampolining come from:
Too Many Jumpers on One Trampoline
In park trampolines, you are likely to see a commotion of kids of all ages jumping on the trampoline.
They could easily hurt each other as they do their flips, jumping on top of each other squeezing each other’s muscles.
You would not want your 2-year-old autistic kid exposed to all that, would you? It gets even worse when the other kids are older, bigger and more vigorous since they could seriously hurt your toddler.
Too many kids jumping on a mini-trampoline indoors is no better since it has also been shown to cause injuries in toddlers.
Falls from the Trampoline
Unless well enclosed with a safety net, your toddler could do a high jump on the trampoline rebounding on the ground. There could be rocks and all kinds of solid materials that could hurt your toddler.
Injury from the Rails and Metals
The rails and metals that give the trampoline its round shape could also pose a disaster. You do not want this, and as such, you have to make sure that they are well padded with foam.
Gymnastic Flips and Dangerous Stunts by the Kids
Kids are dramatic. You have to give that one to them. Even when you tell them to minimise their theatrics, there will be that over-excited, hyperactive kid who does all forms of gymnastic flip that end up hurting them.
How to Prevent Falls and Trampoline-Related Injuries?
Have an Adult Supervising
Whenever your toddler is rebounding on the trampoline, be sure to be there or have a responsible adult supervising and seeing that they do not do those crazy and hurtful stunts or that too many are using the trampoline at one time.
Put Safety Nets and Paddings
To protect your little ones from hurting themselves while playing on the trampoline, you need to pad your rails. You also need to prevent falls onto the ground through the use of mats on the floor.
Also, have safety nets enclosing the trampoline so that your toddlers are not rebound outside the trampoline. Your trampoline should be on ground level, away from trees or any other complex substances.
- Limit the number of kids on the trampoline to one at a time.
- Limit the number of kids on the trampoline to just one. You would rather be mean than sorry.
Mark Your Trampoline as Not for Use by Toddlers Unless Supervised
CPSC advises that for a trampoline higher than 20 inches above the ground, no toddler should be allowed unless supervised by an adult, and there are net enclosures so that they do not fall off. They go ahead to state that ladders should not be sold alongside trampolines.
Safety Tips for Using Trampolines
If you’re still set on letting your kids use a trampoline, it’s vital to take appropriate precautions.
Certainly, trampolines are risky, but a few simple rules can significantly reduce a trampoline’s risks.
Only allow one person on the trampoline at a time. Doing this decreases the cause of the most common trampoline injuries.
Create a communication system with unique words that signal someone’s turn is up or have a time limit (and a timing device) for each jumper.
Forbid Somersaulting and Flips.
Even older kids shouldn’t attempt these dangerous tricks. They increase the risk of head, neck, and cervical spine injuries that can lead to disability or death.
Buy the Right Safety Equipment.
Purchase shock-absorbing pads that completely cover the trampoline’s metal frame, springs, and hooks. If you see tears, fraying, or other signs of wear in the padding, replace it immediately.
Also, put up a net enclosure and carefully read your owner’s manual to make sure that you have installed it correctly. Don’t allow kids to climb or hang from the netting.
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Position Your Trampoline Wisely.
It’s essential to put a lot of planning into the location and set-up of the trampoline. We recommend keeping the trampoline on level ground, away from other structures and trees.
Provide a separate hang-out spot for kids to wait their turn. The fully netted trampolines don’t have that space, but you can create one nearby where kids can watch their pals jumping. It’s essential to think like a kid when planning your play space.
Always Have Adult Supervision.
Don’t forget to make a comfortable place for an adult to hang out and supervise. Adults should also examine the trampoline regularly for wear and tear.
Brainstorm fun activities for kids. Since you should have a rule against somersaults and tricks, you’ll need to provide other fun challenges.
For example, kids can throw balls at targets or in basketball hoops while jumping. You can also play a memory game where kids copy the moves of the person before them.
Consider Your Child’s Temperament.
Many of the injury risks can be mitigated by following a few simple rules. If you have a child who generally listens, they will be significantly safer on a trampoline.
Avoid Mini Trampolines as Well.
The AAP also advises against buying mini trampolines, which pose similar safety risks to full-sized trampolines.
Do Your Research.
Make sure your homeowner’s insurance policy covers trampoline-related injuries. Regularly search saferproducts.gov for the make and model of your trampoline to stay up-to-date on product recalls and consumer complaints.
Use Safety Nets and Pads.
For home trampolines, install a trampoline enclosure — a particular net designed to surround the trampoline — and cover the trampoline’s frame, springs and surrounding landing surfaces with protective pads. Regularly check the equipment for tears, detachments and deterioration.
Place Home Trampolines at Ground Level.
A fall from a higher surface increases the risk of injury. Make sure the trampoline is set at a safe distance from trees and other hazards.
Limit Trampoline Activity.
Don’t allow a child younger than age six years to use the trampoline.
Allow Only One Person to Use the Trampoline at a Time.
Don’t allow flying somersaults or other potentially risky moves on the trampoline without supervision, instruction and proper use of protective equipment such as a harness.
Don’t Allow Unsupervised Jumping.
If you use a trampoline ladder, permanently remove it after use to prevent unsupervised access by children.
Indoor Children’s Trampolines: Good Idea, or Accident Waiting to Happen?
Indoor trampolines, on the other hand, have their perks, but are they safe?
Anything can be dangerous with misuse, but could an indoor trampoline be an accident waiting to happen rather than the fun activity you know and love?
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons to help you decide if this is right for your household.
The Benefits of Indoor Trampolines
Trampolines are a good exercise for children, especially if you don’t have access to an outdoor yard.
Jumping on a trampoline helps release energy and frustration while keeping the heart rate up. It’s a terrific cardiovascular exercise, and there’s a reason trampolines had a fitness heyday.
Trampolines are also great for children’s perception and motor skills.
Jumping targets the vestibular nervous system, providing information to the brain about position and spatial awareness.
As children jump, they learn to feel where their body is with a rapidly changing surface.
It requires them to coordinate their core, muscles, and feet in a way that contributes to overall balance and coordination.
Jumping may also be beneficial for focus. Some studies show that jumping helps the brain relax because of physical activity, but it doesn’t tax the body as running or jogging would.
Instead, it’s a low-impact exercise with many physical benefits for kids as far as practising coordination, heart health, and focus. Mini trampolines give children the chance to benefit without requiring a lot of space.
The Downsides to Indoor Trampolines
There are significant downsides to indoor trampolines if your child is under the age of 6.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children never have a trampoline if they are under this age because the risk of injury is high.
While most of these recommendations are actually for outdoor trampolines, an indoor trampoline can be just as dangerous.
Young children don’t have the coordination or ability to manage a trampoline, and this can cause them to flip over or fall off with vigorous bouncing.
Indoor trampolines can sometimes come with an attached handle, giving children something to hold onto while jumping.
This is an improvement over a standard indoor trampoline, but children can still damage teeth or misuse the trampolines without proper supervision.
Many organisations are worried about the lack of valuable data to help parents make the right decision.
Trampoline statistics tell us only part of the picture, and even fewer statistics exist for indoor trampolines.
While you can expect a few risks during childhood, it’s essential to understand the risks and hazards.
If you have more than one child, an indoor trampoline could prove more trouble than it’s worth. Same if your child is very young or has developmental delays.
Trampoline Risk Is Hard to Quantify
The biggest problem with trampolines is that we can’t quantify the risk adequately. We can find out how many children visited the hospital due to a trampoline accident last year, but we don’t know how many children had access to trampolines or how long they jumped.
Many of the statistics for trampolines are tied to large outdoor trampolines, where children are more likely to jump with many other children at the same time.
Injuries from falls or crashing into each other are some of the most common, along with doing dangerous tricks.
Indoor trampolines may pose less of a risk because they’re designed for only one jumper, and they’re much closer to the ground.
There is no room to do significant tricks.
However, the dangers could still be an issue because indoor trampolines are more accessible.
They’re in your living room or your child’s room, ready for play at any time of the day. Parents are also less likely to supervise vigilantly because they perceive the risk to be minimised.
Keeping Indoor Trampolines Safe
Your child can get some physical and mental benefits from a trampoline, but the best policy is to create boundaries around them.
If you decide to bring an indoor trampoline into your home, consider a few rules first.
Instead of putting it in your child’s room, consider keeping it in a central area where you can put it up or down.
Your child will have access to it when appropriate and reduce injury due to a lack of supervision.
Never allow more than one child to jump unattended, and always ensure that all children know the rules.
Watch weight limits and use the trampoline away from sharp or hard surfaces where your child can fall.
That being said, even in a common area, you should always supervise usage. Make sure your child is with you and that you can stop the activity if your child is engaging in risky behaviour. Also, talk with your child about what is OK and what isn’t.
Wait Until Your Child Is Older
Waiting a few years till your child isn’t a toddler and has more coordination can help minimise risk. Try to stay until your child is at least four before introducing an indoor trampoline, or use one with a handle for much younger children.
Risks Can Happen No Matter What
Trampolines can be a beneficial form of exercise for your child and help get those wiggles out on rainy days.
However, you must always supervise trampoline use and be aware of the risks involved.
A trampoline used correctly can help your child develop coordination and spatial recognition and ensure that they can exercise in a small space.
They’re instrumental, but you must take the time to consider the risks. Trampolines are not a simple decision, so tread lightly.
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