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?
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.
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’.
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.
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
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.
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.