When toddlers hurt their parents

Babies can be dangerous
Babies can be dangerous 

They may be cute, but toddlers and babies can often inflict serious injuries on their parents.

New York: When Carter Rosengarten was two, he gripped a Matchbox car and, mimicking the Kung Fu Panda, whacked his mother across the face.

Sarah Rosengarten, 27, wound up at the local emergency room, where doctors diagnosed a hairline fracture of the jaw. 

‘‘Children,’’ she said wearily, ‘‘can be dangerous.’’

Although much attention is paid to the safety of infants and toddlers, their sudden jabs, bites, head-butts and kicks can inflict injuries on caregivers, usually parents.

After her two-year-old daughter ‘‘clocked’’ her under the eye, leaving a significant shiner, Alaina Webster, 31, coined a term on her blog to describe this common problem: ‘‘unintentional parent abuse.’’

In a ‘‘public service announcement’’ on the blog, Absolute Uncertainties, Webster called for battered parents to rise up: ‘‘Will you fight back against the two-foot six-inch tyrants taking over our subdivisions, or will you continue to let unsuspecting parents be beaten into submission simply for loving their child too closely?’’

According to emergency room doctors, pediatricians and other experts, UPA is no laughing matter.

With unpredictable infants and toddlers, meals, bath time or even cuddles can go terribly wrong. Though statistics for injuries caused by young children are difficult to find, parents routinely suffer concussions, chipped teeth, corneal abrasions, nasal fractures, cut lips and torn earlobes, among other injuries.

‘‘You’re dealing with wonderful human beings who can’t be reasoned with, who are impulsive, who are stronger and faster than you think they are, and don’t understand consequences of their actions,’’ said


Dr Benjamin Hoffman, medical director of the Tom Sargent Children’s Safety Center at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon.

Bobble-headed babies pose a particular risk, but even after infants gain head control at about six months, parents must remain vigilant.

"Even toddlers, who have great control but are not physically aware of their bodies - it’s very easy for them to accidentally bonk their head into you,’’ said Dr Allison Brindle, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.

Young children frequently poke parents in the eyes, causing corneal abrasions or subconjunctival hemorrhages, also known as red eye.

One reason: ‘‘Kids can be very curious about glasses,’’ said Dr Ramona Sunderwirth, pediatric emergency medicine attendee at St Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York.

Parents can ‘‘play defence,’’ said Dr Jennifer Shu, an author of ‘‘Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality.’’

She advises caregivers to closely monitor a child’s development. ‘‘You can say, ‘Don’t poke Mommy in the eye,’ but if they don’t get it, you just know you are going to have to be a step ahead of them.’’
Injuries such as torn earlobes often occur when infants and toddlers grab earrings.

"Anything loose can be dangerous, such as necklaces, long hair, hoop earrings,’’ Shu said.

‘‘Put your hair up, and rethink the jewellery selection.’’Shu also reminds parents to frequently trim their children’s fingernails and to keep potential weapons out of reach.

"What you might not have thought dangerous can be dangerous in the hands of a toddler - something as innocuous as one of those stirrers in a coffee cup,’’ she said.

Another recommendation: a good night’s sleep. Research shows that sleep deprivation, common among parents of young children, can diminish motor skills - for example, ‘‘the sense to dodge a ball or something that is coming to hit you,’’ said Dr. Ana C. Krieger, director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.

For Rosengarten, whose son jabbed her with a toy car, absorbing an unexpected blow had unpredictable consequences. A CT scan detected a lesion on her jawbone, which was eventually diagnosed by doctors at Cleveland Clinic as a brown tumor, a sign of end-stage kidney failure. Fortunately, her sister was able to donate a kidney to her last year.

Rosengarten now considers the Matchbox car to the face a lucky punch:

‘‘It was a sign from God that saved my life.’’

New York Times