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May 15, 2023

Balancing His Kid on One Hand, One of Dad’s Favorite Tricks

There are number of dads balancing babies on the palms of their hands. Sure, most dads play it safe and keep their children over a soft surface. But, as with anything on the internet, others raise the stakes. Some dads have been filmed lifting their wobbly kin above their heads, or running with their kids balanced on the palms of their hands. There are even online tutorials on how to balance your baby without dropping them. Nobody seems to think it’s a bad idea—even though it’s clearly a bad idea.

Dads may have gotten this terrible idea from watching pediatricians test their childrens’ balance. While physicians never hold babies out toward potentially free-fall, they do hold their feet in a similar (but safer) position to gauge their centers of gravity. Physicians advised that parents not try this at home, and they were not joking.

Documentation of balancing babies dates back to the early 1900s and there’s evidence that the trend spans across cultures as well. Holding up babies is not all bad and, if done over a safe surface like a bed, it can help infants build balancing skills and have a lot of fun. But Benjamin Hoffman, a physician and fellow of the AAP, told Fatherly that although he’s not aware of any specific records of injuries or fatalities from this practice, he’s certain they’ve happened. The challenge in tracking such injuries is that emergency room codes would indicate that a baby fell, without mentioning how. Hoffman suspects that a bulk of these likely injuries have been minor lacerations, or perhaps broken arms and legs. But worse things could happen.

Bonus: Two vintage snaps of a mom balancing her kid on one hand:


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