For the last three years, Heather Clare has been trying to warn parents about a completely avoidable injury that many are unaware of. In September 2015, the mom took her twin babies, Matthew and Meadow, to a park in New York hoping for some family fun. She went down an almost 10-foot-long slide with Matthew on her lap first.
When it came to Meadow's turn, the then 1-year-old started off centered on Clare's lap, but about halfway down the slide, the infant's right foot got caught between Mom and the slide, twisting it backwards.
"When I realized what was happening, I used my top hand to try to stop us and leaned to release her foot," Clare wrote on Facebook on Monday in a post that has now been shared about 83,000 times.
That exact moment when Meadow's leg bent was captured by Clare's husband and is a very visual reminder of just how dangerous going down the slide with a young child on your lap can be.
Clare rushed her daughter to the emergency room, where they found multiple fractures in the baby's right leg. The doctors at the ER told her how common the injury is.
"They both advised us that there really is no safe way to go down the slide with your child in your lap," Clare told People. "Even if parents tuck in their child’s feet, they can get stuck under their parents then. They really advise one person at a time down a slide."
Kids sliding with an older sibling or adult now have the added weight of another, bigger person, increasing the momentum and twisting force, and making it harder to stop if a limb gets caught.
According to a study presented at the Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in Chicago in 2017, researchers found that out of the 350,000 children younger than 6 years of age who were injured on slides in the U.S. from 2002 to 2015, toddlers ages 12 to 23 months had especially high rates of injury.
"I had no idea. I thought everyone took their kids down the slide," Clare wrote. "I strongly feel every playground should have a warning sign, but since I’ve never seen one (and we go to A LOT of playgrounds), I share this picture every year in hopes that the pain Meadow felt and the guilt that I still feel will save other babies and parents from the same."
After her injury, Meadow spent about a month in a cast.
This isn't the first time slide safety has made headlines this year. In January, celebrity mom Chrissy Teigen shared a photo of her and her then 21-month-old daughter going down the slide. She was met with criticism, unsolicited advice and stories about young children getting hurt in a similar way to Meadow.
With summer in full swing, it might be a good time to brush up on some playground safety recommendations.