In a nutshell: You should never throw a newborn baby up in the air.


In fact, it's not a good idea to throw any baby in the air.

Once your child is older — and their neck is stronger — it may be a little less risky, as long as you take care to do it safely.

At what age can I throw my baby in the air?

It's an absolute no-no to throw a newborn. They don't have enough control of their neck muscles and their head is big in proportion to the rest of their body, so being thrown in the air could result in their head being forced rapidly back and forth on their neck. This can lead to whiplash-type injuries or even brain injuries.

Even at around 6 months, when most babies will have good control of their neck, I would still avoid throwing them in the air.

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As your child gets older, the dangers of neck and head damage decrease and, it's fair to say, they tend to enjoy this kind of rough and tumble play.

How can I throw my child in the air safely?

If you do decide to throw your child up in the air when they are 1 or 2 years old — or older — it is important to remain safe and not throw too high. When you throw a child in the air, there is always a risk that you won't catch them and they will fall. This risk obviously increases the higher you throw them.

If you want to stay safe but still give your child the pleasure of that flying-through-the-air feeling, you could try this instead: hold them tight and then lift them up and whoosh them high in the air without letting them go. All the pleasure with less risk!

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Dr Philippa Kaye works as a GP in both NHS and private practice. She attended Downing College, Cambridge, then took medical studies at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’s medical schools in London, training in paediatrics, gynaecology, care of the elderly, acute medicine, psychiatry and general practice.