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The Safety of Monkey Bars for Kids

by Eliza Martinez

Fractures and dislocated body parts are the most common playground injuries and usually occur in falls from equipment such as monkey bars, according to Raising Children Network, an Australian parenting website. Short of keeping your kids off the playground, the risk of injury is always present, but you can reduce the chances of a trip to the emergency room by teaching your little one to use monkey bars properly.

Age

Besides the fact that a young child can't reach the monkey bars, she probably wouldn't be able to stretch her arms far enough to grab the next bar. While you could hold her legs and help her across the bars, it might be a safer idea to wait until she can cross them on her own. Children under age 5 probably shouldn't use monkey bars because they lack the upper body strength to do so properly, according to KidsHealth.org. Once you feel your child is ready, stand beneath her so you can catch her as she practices crossing the monkey bars.

Set-up

You don't have to take a tape measure to the playground to ensure your child's safety, but eyeball the monkey bars to determine whether the bars are far enough apart so your child can't get stuck between them. The National Safety Council recommends using monkey bars that are at least 9 inches apart. This gives your child enough room to swing her arms and grab the next bar, but is wide enough that her head won't get stuck as she swings upward.

Proper Use

Monkey bars are designed for swinging across, but you've probably seen kids on top of them, either crawling across or trying to hop from bar to bar. Using the bars improperly increases the risk of a child getting hurt from a fall. The Raising Children Network encourages parents to keep their kids from climbing or jumping from the top of the monkey bars. If other children are up there, have your child play on something else until the monkey bars are clear to avoid someone stepping on her hands and causing her to fall off the bar.

Clothing

Don't let your child play on monkey bars while wearing a hood or with loose strings on her top. If she loses her grip and her clothes get stuck on the bar, she could have trouble getting down and her clothes can stop her from breathing. Don't let your child wear mittens or gloves or pull her sleeves over her hands either. This makes them slippery and she'll have a hard time gripping the bars firmly and might wind up on the ground with a broken bone.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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