Minor scrapes and scratches are usually just a normal part of growing up. But there are some seemingly simple things that Dr. Alanna Levine, a New York-based pediatrician, never lets her kids do because they're too dangerous.
The boundaries can sometimes be tough to enforce, Levine told Craig Melvin during a March 23 segment on the TODAY show. Along with the habits and mistakes she encourages parents to avoid, she also shared what she tells her patients to do instead.
Ride a bike or scooter without a helmet
Even if it's just down the driveway, Levine said she wouldn't let her kids ride a bike, scooter or anything else with wheels unless they're wearing a helmet.
"I make all of my patients pinky promise me that they won't do it because it's so tempting," she said. "I tell them that you only have one head and you really need to protect it."
Buy a trampoline for my backyard
Levine said she would never buy a trampoline for her children because trampolines can lead to so many injuries.
"This one was really tough for my own kids because they really want (a trampoline)," Levine said. "But I've seen so many injuries and broken bones from trampolines — especially when there's more than one child jumping at a time. And, let's face it, who wants to bounce by themselves?"
Let kids charge their phones in their room
"Plain and simple, it interferes with sleep," she said.
Looking at a screen — like a smartphone or tablet — late at night can affect the biological mechanisms that keep our circadian rhythm on track, TODAY.com explained previously. And the excitement we get from scrolling on social media can keep us awake, as well.
For kids and teens (and even adults!), it can be impossible to ignore alerts while you're trying to sleep. "So much of their social life is on their phone, so it's irresistible if that goes off in the middle of the night," Levine said.
If your child uses their phone as an alarm to wake them up in the morning, try letting them use a digital alarm clock instead, she suggested.
Give my kids fever reducers and send them to school
When your child has a fever, it might be tempting to give them ibuprofen or acetaminophen to manage it and send them to school. But Levine recommended against doing so for a few reasons.
First, "you're actually hurting other children because you're sending your child to school when they're potentially most contagious," she explained.
"And also think about your own child," she continued. "Once the medication wears off, they're really going to feel lousy."
Stray from car safety guidelines
"This is easy in the beginning," Levine said. Infants and toddlers should be in rear-facing car seats, and at that age "they're not going to put up a fight."
But when kids get older and graduate to a booster seat, it can get more complicated, and many parents may take their kids out of the booster too soon, she added.
You should use the child's height — not their age — when figuring out whether to take them out of the booster seat. "You need to be tall enough for the seat belt to fit you properly, and typically that happens around 4 feet 9 inches," Levine explained.
Some kids might hit that height at age 8 while others might not get there until age 12. "And I can tell you, 12-year-olds do not want to sit in a booster," Levine said. But you should stick to the guidelines and keep them in the booster seat until they're tall enough.