Some parents view shoulder rides as a perfectly ordinary method of transporting their children.
To some, it’s a dangerous, irresponsible and strictly forbidden activity due to the possibility of accidental slips and falls.
Kids love it, though. What’s not to love?
They have a premium seat to watch the world from the top view!
Plus, they have a great bonding experience with their parent.
With no official guidance or recommendation from healthcare professionals, it is your own choice whether you want to give your child shoulder rides or not.
So, if you’re in this situation, here’s a list of things to think about that will help you make an informed decision.
Carrying a child on your shoulders is a definite no-go when *your child is unable to sit steady and unsupported *when they are unable to hold on to you while sitting on your shoulders *when they are unable to sit still on your shoulders *if you are a particularly clumsy person *if you are wearing slippery or unsteady footwear *if you are unable to hold your child’s legs *if you are walking in the unstable ground with potential obstacles.
Ask yourself the following 8 simple questions.
Remember, be honest. No one is judging you or your kid.
The only way to decide if it is safe to give your baby shoulder rides is by having the right information.
Also, go through this list every time you want to carry your little one on your shoulders.
So, here we go.
1. Is your child able to sit up steadily unsupported for the duration of the shoulder ride?
So, this is probably the first and most important question you should ask yourself.
The ability of your child to sit steadily, no matter their age.
Because every child reaches their milestones at a different pace, you should really judge how well they can sit because not all 6-month-olds are steady sitters.
If your baby is not quite there yet, you must support their back to prevent them from falling backwards. However, this will be an extremely awkward position for you and may strain your neck. So unless you have no other option, it’s better to wait with shoulder rides until your baby is an independent sitter.
5 Tips to Teach A Baby to Sit Up Independently (Including When Do Babies Sit Up)
2. Is your child able to hold on to you when sitting on your shoulders?
And what happens when you pop your baby on your shoulders? Are they able to wrap their hands around your neck or hold onto your shoulders?
It is essential for them to hold on to you, as this will not only help them stay balanced on your shoulders but also provide them with a feeling of safety.
Also, what is the likelihood they will start poking your eyes or sticking their fingers to your ears or nose?
As funny as it may sound, it may be an unwanted distraction leading to an accident. So something to assess and bear in mind…
3. Is your child a wriggly worm?
Let’s face it. Most babies and toddlers like to be in motion. They are generally active and full of beans. And that’s totally normal.
It helps them to self-regulate and stay calm.
But not only that.
Also, there is evidence that increased activity boosts cognitive performance.
And unlike many people believe, not all fidgety children have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Only around 9% of children are officially diagnosed with ADHD.
Nevertheless, ask yourself this question – is my kid particularly fidgety, or can they sit still for a while?
If the former, they may find it hard to sit still when you carry them on your shoulders. In this case, the risk of them falling down and you not catching them is significantly higher.
4. Are you able to hold your child’s legs at all times?
One of the drawbacks of giving your child shoulder rides is that you must always keep a firm grasp on their legs. You can’t set them free.
It is definitely not a hands-free mode of transportation.
Therefore, no reaching for a phone to chat or text your friends, no carrying shopping bags or sipping a takeaway coffee. Your hands will be busy holding your little ones’ legs.
Can you ensure you can do it?
Just something to think about….
5. Are you clumsy?
Have you ever tripped over your own feet?
Perhaps it is not one of those characteristics anyone wants to be associated with, but let’s be honest here.
Not everyone can move with natural elegance or grace.
Some of us are awkward, uncoordinated, often bumping into things, dropping things, and are simply accident-prone.
To reassure you, clumsiness is not your fault. So, don’t feel bad about it. It’s something you are born with.
If you are one of these unlucky people, perhaps you should give miss a shoulder ride for your precious one.
6. Are you wearing flip-flops, heels or other unstable footwear
When carrying your child on your shoulder, it’s a great time to use your common sense when choosing the most appropriate footwear.
So you should opt for a pair of good walking shoes that are lightweight, comfortable and supportive to keep you steady and well-balanced on your feet.
It goes without saying that flip-flops or high hills are a definite no-go!
7. Are you walking on unstable ground/stairs?
It is also important to consider where you intend to carry your precious cargo.
Is it a mountain trail, woodland pathway, dirt road made of gravel, or stones, or just a muddy footpath?
Because of the possibility of slipping and tripping, you need to take precautions.
You are much better off walking with your child on your shoulders on a paved and flat surface than on a natural trail in the woods or mountains!
8. Are you vigilant of your surrounding?
As a follow-up to the point above, you should also be mindful of the possibility of bumping your child’s head and knocking them down.
Because with your child on your shoulder, you are at least 2-3 feet taller, so going through doorways can be rather tricky.
You should also watch out for low-hanging branches and ceiling fans that can cause your child to fall.
What are the risks involved in giving your little one shoulder rides?
So if you think about it, there is always some element of risk involved when we carry a child, no matter how we do it. Whether we hold them in our arms, in a baby carrier, or sling, give them a piggyback ride or shoulder back ride.
The risk of them falling off or you tripping over and falling and dropping your kid as a result of it is still there.
Now, the consequence of your child tumbling off your shoulder is more severe than when the baby falls down from those other scenarios, as the height from which they fall is much lower.
Because, for example, if you trip forward with your child on your shoulders, the chances are you and your baby will smash your face into the ground. If you fall backwards while holding your child, they will also fall headfirst from a significant height backwards.
Secondly, when you fall with a child on your shoulders, you will instinctively try to hold on to something to break your fall. This means you will let go of your child trying to rescue yourself!
This won’t happen if you wear your child hands-free in a sling or a carrier. You can easily break your fall, and your child is safely strep to your body.
On the other hand, there is always an element of risk involved in your child’s day-to-day activities, i.e. climbing a ladder to the slide, jumping on the trampoline, swinging on swings, or even eating solid food that they could choke on.
And we still let them do that and accept the potential danger.
After all, we can’t bubble wrap them, put the helmet on to the park trip and keep them away from it all! And falling is a part of any child’s life.
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Final Few Lines
To sum it up.
Is it safe to carry your child on your shoulder?
Well, it depends on your child’s ability to sit steadily and hold on to you, and their ability to sit still for an extended period.
It will also depend on you, if you are a klutz, wear appropriate, comfortable shoes, hold your child’s legs, and make sure you are stepping on steady ground without low-hanging obstacles.
Hopefully, at the end of these 8 questions, you will have your answer.