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Winnipeg family, doctors warn about dangers of sliding with toddlers

WINNIPEG — Taking a young child down a slide at the park is something almost every parent has done, but now doctors and some families warn against it.

“You think you’re doing right by going down the slide with your kid to protect them but you’re actually causing them more harm,” dad Nathan Walker said.

His son Riley was just 18 months old in December when he fractured his fibula and was put in a full leg cast for six weeks after his mother took him down a slide on her lap at the Winnipeg Children’s Museum. Riley’s left leg got caught under his mom and her momentum caused his leg to twist.

“As she was going down, his leg got caught with his shoes on at the end and she heard kind of a pop sound, something wasn’t right and he started crying,” said Walker, a Winnipeg firefighter.

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Nathan Riley Walker swing broken leg slide
Nathan Walker pushes his son Riley, 1, and daughter Sydney, 4, on swings. Riley’s leg broke in December while he was sliding on his mother’s lap. Lorraine Nickel / Global News

They took Riley to the hospital emergency room and to their surprise, doctors said this wasn’t the first time they’d seen this happen.

Now Winnipeg emergency room doctors are warning parents not to take little ones down a slide on their lap.

“The ones we see in emergency had absolutely no idea this could happen or that is was related to them holding them,” said Dr. Lynne Warda. “It could have been prevented by them going down on their own.”

Dr. Warda, an ER doctor at the Winnipeg Children’s Hospital, said doctors at the Pan Am Clinic have seen as many as a dozen toddlers aged one to two who have broken a leg while sliding with an adult. This spring alone four toddlers broke their tibia, also known as a shinbone.

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But the accident can be avoided.

Slides designed for toddlers are less than a metre (three feet) tall and have a gentle slope, but the majority of outdoor play structures in Canada are designed for children older than two, Warda said. Check the sign or label on the equipment to see if it’s appropriate for your child.

Walker hopes the message gets out.

“As hard as it is on the kids it’s hard on the parents that you’ve injured your kid and that’s the last thing you want to do,” he said.