Any activity that requires excessive force can result in injuries to a baby. Throwing a baby up high in the air poses several risks -- from whipping his head to an unintentional fall. If you still want to play with your baby in this manner, it's much safer to gently toss him than throw him high into the air. Also, you want to ensure that your baby has the physical development necessary to avoid any unintentional injuries.
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While head control usually develops around 4 months, it's safest to wait until a baby is at least 6 months of age if you decide to play with her by throwing her in the air. By 6 months of age, a baby's neck muscles have strengthened. Throwing a baby high in the air before the age of 6 months might result in neck strain for a baby who is unable to properly support her own head. Even after 6 months of age, you should take it easy on the rough play, recommends Dr. Heather Armstrong, a Florida pediatrician in an article on the "Parenting" website.
When throwing a baby high in the air, she leaves your grasp. You might not be able to catch her and she could fall to the ground. According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, short falls can result in conditions such as skull fractures or epidural hematomas -- bleeding between the inside of the skull and the tough skin that surrounds the brain. In addition, if the baby falls on an extremely hard surface, or suffers a longer fall, the injuries sustained could be more severe.
Shaken Baby Syndrome
According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, activities such as tossing a child in the air, jogging with a child in a backpack, swinging a child in an infant swing or bouncing the child up and down on an adult's knee are not causes of bone, brain and eye injury associated with shaken baby syndrome. Shaken baby syndrome results when a child is shaken violently and his head whips back and forth repeatedly, causing bone, brain or eye trauma. However, if you are throwing the baby in such a way that her head whips back and forth, then she is at risk of developing shaken baby syndrome.
Safety When Playing
It's best to support your baby's head and neck while playing with him. Play that jostles your young baby's head on his neck can result in a strain on the neck. If the play is rough enough, more serious injuries can possibly result. Raising your baby in the air without letting him go is a safer option than tossing or throwing.