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Little Kids, Big Questions
is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.

Our 4-month-old loves to be tossed up and down, but my mother says this is dangerous. Is she right?

Q: Our 4-month-old loves to be tossed up and down, but my mother says this is dangerous. Is she right?

A: Your mother's concern likely stems from the highly-publicized and very serious problem called "shaken baby syndrome." Shaken baby syndrome results from violently shaking a baby (usually under 6 months) while holding the infant by the trunk or by the shoulders. Forceful shaking causes tearing of the small blood vessels on the surface of the brain that can interrupt blood flow and can lead to brain damage.

The experience of being tossed up into the air no more than a foot or so is unlikely to harm your baby. This action does not generate enough force to cause your baby harm. 

However, as much as your baby enjoys being tossed into the air, there is always the chance that the person tossing her will drop her accidentally and cause physical harm. While this risk is admittedly very small, play it safe and choose other ways to be active together.  Try dancing, swaying, swinging, and other movement activities that offer little or no chance of injury.

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