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Someone told me that my 10 month old grandson was injuring his hips by continually bouncing himself when he stands while holding onto a couch or table. He seems very healthy and strong. Is there a health risk?

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    I think the question, precisely as asked, must be closed, for it is asking a medical question: Is there a health risk?. We should not be judging if there is any health risk from a question here (as we don't know the child nor can we say definitively there is absolutely no risk, as many common activities include some small risk). I don't see any problem with the question adjusting that phrase to Is this normal?, and would edit it if there is general agreement. – Joe Dec 8 '14 at 15:30
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    Is a question of the form "Is X a health risk?" really a medical question? I can see it being borderline, but if it has a general answer that can be documented and that's appropriate for children without special medical conditions, I don't see how it's any more inappropriate than other typical questions. There's hardly any question about babies that doctors won't have an educated opinion on, but I don't think that reaches the scope of a "medical question" unless it's specifically about treatment of an illness or similar. – R.. Dec 8 '14 at 17:10
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    AE's answer, on the other hand, shows how this can have a very good answer (at least mostly) as written; maybe I'm just picking nits on the specific wording. I do think that the top answers are, while accurate, not what I'd want to see as answering the question as written, and is why I voiced this concern: while Anongoodnurse is a medical professional and a good source in and of herself, it's very easy to see answers from non-professionals that are basically "no" without sources, and that makes me worry about venturing into medical advice. – Joe Dec 8 '14 at 18:42
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    30+ years of bouncing; no problems yet other than always being asked to stop rocking the table. – Mazura Dec 8 '14 at 22:36
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    My son was running all over the place by 9.5 months. He was bouncing on his legs before six months. Happy, healthy 11yo now! – Ernest Friedman-Hill Dec 8 '14 at 23:23
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I can't think of any risk in this normal behavior (yes, this qualifies as normal) in a normal baby (contrast this to children who engage in abnormal activity, e.g. head-banging, who are putting themselves at risk).

If anything, your grandson is showing good strength in his legs, good balance (he's not falling over with movement), and good large-motor skills in his lower extremities.

People believe in all kinds of myths. I don't know where this one came from, but you don't have to worry about your grandson damaging his hips be doing what comes naturally to him.

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    If he starts feeling pain as a direct result of bouncing he will probably stop on his own. – ratchet freak Dec 8 '14 at 12:05
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    Both my mother an mother-in-law sternly told me not to let my baby stand and put weight on her legs before a year old: "all that weight on a little developing body will make her bow-legged!" They were going off the outdated notion that rickets is caused by too-early pressure, unaware of its actual cause (vitamin deficiencies). It's possible there's some similar misconception at work here... although guessing the real root cause isn't necessary, since it's not a problem for the baby to bounce :) – Acire Dec 8 '14 at 14:15
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    Erica, if I had a dollar for every outdated piece of advice from my mother and mother-in-law, I could take you, me and our spouses out to a nice dinner. – corsiKa Dec 8 '14 at 21:17
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That's absolutely fine - in fact it helps him to develop.

How can I help my child to stand?

Your child can be held supported in a standing position from an early age

This allows the child to experience the feeling of their body weight through their feet.

They may bounce up and down. They do this to develop the strength in their leg muscles.

You can stand your child in many different ways, for example on your lap when you are sitting in a chair, in front of a coffee table or sofa or on the sofa cushion next to you with their back against the back cushions.

As they get stronger, they will need less support from you and they will use their hands on the furniture to support themselves more.

When they can stand briefly without holding on, they are ready to learn to step along the furniture or ‘cruise’.

Helping a baby develop standing and stepping
Advice sheet CYP ITS ASEY012, NHS Somerset Partnership, 2012.

Five months to 10 months

By the time your baby is about five months old, if you let him balance his feet on your thighs, he'll bounce up and down. Bouncing will be a favourite activity over the next couple of months.

Many babies love jumping up and down in their door bouncer. However, if you have a door bouncer, limit the time your baby spends in it to three supervised 15-minute sessions a day.

As your baby learns to roll over, sit, and crawl, his muscles will continue to strengthen.

Between eight months and 10 months he will probably start trying to pull himself up to stand while holding on to furniture. If you prop him up next to the sofa, he'll hang on for support.

As your baby gets better at standing, he'll start to cruise (moving around upright while holding on to furniture). He may then feel confident enough to let go of any support and stand unaided. Once your baby is ready to let go of the furniture, he may be able to take steps when you hold his hands. Your baby may even stoop to pick up a toy when standing.

Developmental milestones: walking
babycentre.co.uk, Medical Advisory Board, August 2014

The myth is more usually about small babies 'bouncing' on their parent's lap, supported by the parent's hands around their torso. Parenting magazine has addressed it in this form:

Myth: Letting your little one stand or bounce in your lap can cause bowlegs later on.

The truth: He won't become bowlegged; that's just an old wives' tale. Moreover, young babies are learning how to bear weight on their legs and find their center of gravity, so letting your child stand or bounce is both fun and developmentally stimulating for him.

14 Most Outdated Pieces of Baby Advice
Parenting, Amanda First / Ari Brown, M.D

Paediatrician Dr Kristen Stuppy has also addressed it:

I am surprised how often I am asked if having a baby "stand" on a parent's lap will make them bow legged or otherwise hurt them.

Old Wives Tales are ingrained in our societies and because they are shared by people we trust, they are often never questioned.

Allowing babies to stand causing problems is one of those tales. If an adult holds a baby under the arms and supports the trunk to allow the baby to bear weight on his legs it will not harm the baby. Many babies love this position and will bounce on your leg. It allows them to be upright and see the room around them. Supported standing can help build strong trunk muscles.

Will "Standing" Hurt a Baby's Legs?
Quest for Health, Dr Kristen Stuppy MD, 4 August 2012

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    Excellent documentation! – Acire Dec 8 '14 at 18:43
  • Thank you, @Erica! The one thing I would improve (if I could find a good source for it) would be that most of these sources are talking primarily about younger babies than the OP is asking about, with 'later months' as an extra addition, and that they're talking primarily about babies being 'bounced' on their parents' laps (with parent supporting torso) rather than independent self-supporting standing babies like the OP's. – A E Dec 8 '14 at 18:54
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No, there is no health risk. Your grandson is actually doing something healthy — building his leg muscles to be able to stand more easily, and to raise and lower himself in a more controlled, coordinated way. Sounds like he'll be walking in the next few months!

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There are seats you can get for babies to bounce in, which my daughter loved, but her orthopedic doctor said not to use for risk of hip problems. However, that was an external device for a child who already had a high enough risk of hip problems that she had an orthopedic doctor. My guess is the person who told you had heard similar advice, perhaps secondhand, and falsely extrapolated it to the situation of a perfectly healthy child bouncing himself.

Most of the time how a toddler moves under his own power is safe. Even our daughter's orthopedic doctor encouraged that kind of exercise. It's when you add external factors, like bouncers or walkers, that you might want to run it by an expert.

  • Bouncers specifically are often discouraged by doctors of all sorts, not for orthopedic reasons but because they support the baby too much - they don't learn a sense of balance as quickly as they ought otherwise. – Joe Dec 8 '14 at 18:44
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As someone else has said above, if it was painful for him to do this he would stop.

I believe any movement they are making is only helping to strengthen their muscles so that there is less risk of joint problems when they are older. Stronger muscles will help to support joints. My daughter loved to bounce when she was younger (less than 1 year old), she is now 2 and doesn't show any signs of problems so far.

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