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What Are the Dangers of Swinging a Baby by the Arms?

By Kathy Gleason ; Updated June 13, 2017

Some parents and older siblings like to roughhouse with babies. And some babies seem to enjoy this type of play as well, especially if they see older children playing that way. However, special care does need to be taken with babies, especially when swinging a baby by his arms.


One of the risks of swing a baby around by his arms is that you could drop the baby while playing. If the baby is wiggling or your grip slips, you could drop him, exposing him to serious injuries.

Nursemaid's Elbow

One of the serious risks of swinging a baby by her arms is the risk of inflicting a condition called nursemaid's elbow, according to the KidsHealth website. In this condition, the elbow joint moves out of place after being pulled. This is also called a pulled elbow, and it's one of the more common elbow injuries for little ones. While it's fairly easy for a pediatrician to pop the joint back into place, it's painful for the child and once it happens, it's more likely to happen again. In addition to swinging a young child by the arms, other common causes of this condition are jerking your child by the arm to hurry her along, or your child can even do it to herself by breaking a fall with her arm or even rolling over the wrong way in her crib.

Hitting Objects

When you swing your baby by her arms, you run the risk of accidentally knocking her into objects in the room. If you're swinging a baby around vigorously, you could bang her into walls or furniture. If you have other children in the house, this activity becomes even more dangerous because a child running by or trying to get in the middle of the game with baby could get hit by the swinging baby, causing injury to both kids.

Scaring the Baby

It's easy to think babies are having fun when roughhousing, and sometimes it starts out that way. But swinging that is too fast or sudden or rough can quickly frighten your baby. A baby's mood can change dramatically and it's not a fun game anymore if your little one ends up in tears.

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