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Picking up a baby by the arm. It's really wrong, isn't it?

(38 Posts)
wowzers Tue 31-Mar-09 02:53:21

My husband picked up our 12mo baby by the upper arm today and lifted him a few feet. DS had repeatedly climbed up on a low table and DH was angry by this time and this is how DH removed him. DS cried out but was fine as soon as he was set down.

I was really shocked and reacted quite strongly (said it could have hurt him, dislocated something). I asked him how he'd have felt if he'd seen nursery staff doing that. I said I'd have reported nursery staff for abuse.

We're at an impasse. I'm not accusing him of abuse, but I am worried that he did this in anger. He's saying I'm being ridiculous and is ready to pack his bags.

There's obviously more to our relationship than this one incident but I really want to know if this is beyond the pale.

Pawslikepaddington Tue 31-Mar-09 03:08:30

I play with dd sometimes by holding her wrists and swinging her around on the grass (she is a lot older though). As long as it is a one off he should be ok, but not as an everyday occurrance!

wowzers Tue 31-Mar-09 03:12:49

Thanks, Paddington. I do the same with our older DD, too. But I don't know about a younger baby. And the issue is that I think it could hurt a 12 mo, and that it wasn't done in a spirit of fun; rather of anger.

spicemonster Tue 31-Mar-09 03:26:14

Hmm that would alarm me too. Have you asked him if he did it because he was angry (ie to punish your DS)? What is he saying other than that you're being ridiculous?

Pawslikepaddington Tue 31-Mar-09 03:33:09

I would agree with spice in that the anger would worry me too, and it does need talking about. However ds should be ok as it was a one off (and may stop his clambering happening again!). He sounds like he is having a tantrum of his own TBH!

wowzers Tue 31-Mar-09 03:43:53

Spice, initially he said that was how he chastised him and I shouldn't question him in front of the DCs (1yo and 2.5yo). He was really angry at me. A couple of hours later after the DCs in bed he said he should have picked him up a different way but that DS wasn't hurt, he didn't cry out (he did). By this time the discussion is all about my behaviour (overreacting, mentioning the word abuse)

HarlotOTara Tue 31-Mar-09 10:35:00

My dd dislocated her elbow being swung around by her arms. Until they are 8 or 9 children's elbows are quite vulnerable to this. There is a name for it (which I have forgotten) and the dr in casualty told me about it.

whoisasking Tue 31-Mar-09 12:38:35

I have a friend who was doing the "swing" (One, two, three..SWIIING) with her daughter and her shoulder dislocated! shock

She said it was just so so awful, and when she took her daughter to A & E, the doctor told her that it happens quite often.

I do NOT think you're being unreasonable to be angry/upset.

BalloonSlayer Tue 31-Mar-09 12:50:21

I have seen a woman who I consider to be one of the best Mums I know lift her child this way.

I have also seen it on old film footage. I got the impression it's something you might learn to do when you have a lot of children, are BF a baby and need to lift your toddler out of harm's way with only one arm of your own spare for the task.

I think if you know how to do it safely it's ok. I don't, however.

messymissy Tue 31-Mar-09 12:54:19

I think you were right to object to your 12mo being picked up like this - in anger by the sounds of it. I would object too. your dh could have picked him up carefully rather than like a piece of baggage. He would not like someone bigger than him to do this to him would he?

And your DH is diverting attention away from his action by saying you are overreacting. - don't let him divert the attention. The focus of the discussion was on the inappropriate way he picked up a BABY!!! complaining about your response is a defensive smoke screen!

Draw a line under it for now, say you have explained how you felt that it is not appropriate to pick a BABY up like that and you trust he wont do it again.

good luck.

4andnotout Tue 31-Mar-09 12:54:29

I agree with Balloon Slayer especially with the bfing a baby scenario, sometimes i have to lift my 18 m.o dd3 up onto the sofa one handed and have to do it like this, although the back of her dungaree's are very handy today!

CherryChoc Tue 31-Mar-09 13:24:53

I have lifted my DS (6m) up by one leg when I was playing - have heard the thing about the elbows though so try not to do so with arms. Although I do sometimes hold him up by both arms, which he loves, maybe I should stop blush

Nabster Tue 31-Mar-09 13:26:10

My DH picked up our DD by her arm but did it quicker than he meant too. Three hospital trips and a week in a cast was the result. I wince when I see people swining children by their hands.

Nabster Tue 31-Mar-09 13:26:39

BTW she was about 3 or 4.

messymissy Tue 31-Mar-09 13:27:52

I think its the motivation for lifting them, if you are playing with them and they are having fun and its safe - fine and dandy.

However I still would never do it, their bones and joints are tender fragile things and you have to be so careful to support their heads and necks, so why risk it?

its when they are lifted in temper that it can be hurtful and frightening to a child.

macdoodle Tue 31-Mar-09 13:36:22

hmm strictly by your OP I think you are over reacting TBH - are we not all guilty of doing something in frustration and anger - talking of abuse is way OTT IMO - is there more to this then???

wowzers Tue 31-Mar-09 14:35:43

DH has got an awful temper, and was once physically abusive to me. That was over a year ago and hasn't happened again since. (He's stopped drinking since then which has helped a lot) But his temper is still there and he throws/breaks things when he's angry.

I guess I'm just on the look-out for any of this affecting the DC and this set alarm bells ringing. Yesterday he'd been in a bad mood all day and very shouty to the DCs and this was the culmination.

His first reaction was to shout at me for question him in front of the DCs as this was 'how he chastises them'. I'd have dropped it if he'd just said sorry he didn't mean to hurt DS.

wowzers Tue 31-Mar-09 16:00:53

But I wasn't consciously saying he was abusing our DS. By giving the nursery staff analogy I was just trying to make him think how he would feel if he saw someone else do it.

screamingabdab Tue 31-Mar-09 18:14:45

If it were my DH (who only rarely loses his temper, and has never been threatening, but HAS once or twice been rough with the kids in anger - as have I), I'd let it lie.

But you have reason to be worried about the anger. He is, understandably, perhaps, not wanting to confront the fact that what he did was wrong. But it was wrong, and the fact that he doesn't seem to realise it is worrying.

Having said that, I don't really know what to advise you.
I think you would be wise to keep a very close eye out. Looking after toddlers is very stressful, and if someone does have problems with their tempers it's a potentially explosive combination.

samsonthecat Tue 31-Mar-09 18:22:03

My DH picked DD1 up by her arms when she was 2 and dislocated her elbow. They were only playing but he felt really bad for ages about it and at 4 she still remembers it.

marie1979 Tue 31-Mar-09 22:14:07

i personally do not pick my children up by arms or legs and i remember my mate doing it and throwing her daughter to her bf backwards and forwards like a rag doll awfull to watch and i let them no i did not approve and they did it more rolling about with laughter( sick) anyway i know what your saying about the nursery if u see anyone doing that it looks awful i would keep a close eye on your bf for anymore signs of you bf being angry towards the children. as you say he started saying about your reaction thats the sign of a guilty man trying to devert the attention to you to make himslef feel better.

iwontbite Tue 31-Mar-09 22:18:19

it isn't a great idea. my uncle dislocated my cousins shoulder by lifting her up by one arm when getting her out of the car.

MsHighwater Tue 31-Mar-09 22:19:57

I think your dh might have a point if you berated him in front of the dcs. I don't think parents, whatever their circumstances, should argue in front of their children. I don't know whether you were overreacting by being upset about what he did but perhaps you should have talked about it in private.

marie1979 Tue 31-Mar-09 22:27:59

i would of done exactly the saw thing i would of been fuming i do not call it overrecting at all many people igore things dont get me wrong im not sayin your bf is an abusing i just think its a good thing to pull him up when hes done it so he knows that its not ok to do that to a baby

marie1979 Tue 31-Mar-09 22:28:35

i meant same thing

Supercherry Thu 02-Apr-09 09:53:16

I haven't read all this thread but just wanted to add it is really stupid to pick a baby up by their arms, one or both. Obviously we all do stupid things in ignorance, but really please don't pick your baby up by their arm/arms/leg think how guilty you would feel if you dislocated something?

The fact that your DH did this in anger is ringing alarm bells. You are right to feel the way you do.

My DP has on a number of occasions gone to pick DS up by his arms without thinking (in play) and I have gone mad at him. It is a really stupid thing to do.

At 6mths Cherrychoc- yes you should definitley stop! shock

thelionmummy Thu 02-Apr-09 10:11:44

If this was just a one of "not thinking" type incident then i wouldn't be worried. But there are so many "flags" in your posts. His temper, his shoutiness with the children, his physical abuse!!! Nothing worse than a shouty father, well of course there is the one that hits - can you be sure he wont be the one that hits?

bigbang Thu 02-Apr-09 13:24:41

Oh gosh I didn't realise this was so bad. I pick ds (20 mo) up by one arm sometimes. Not if I can help it, but if he is getting into something he shouldn't and I only have one hand free I swoop him out the way using his arm blush. He also has a habit of going limp for no reason, so if he does this while we are walking he ends up hanging by the arm for a second till I can sit him down/use my other hand. I have once had to pull him across the road like this too- he went limp in the middle of crossing and the green man disappeared, he wouldn't stand up and my other hand had bags in so I just lifted him across to the other side. I know its not nice and I wouldn't do it to hurt him on purpose (obviously) and I'm not angry when I do it, just want him out the way quickly without dropping stuff everywhere.

I had no idea I could be hurting him, he never seems to get upset about it, I feel like such a crap mum now. I'm never going to do this again even in hast, the thought of dislocating something is awful.

What am I supposed to do instead? How do you move your children swiftly if there is something in your other hand? An arm around their waist or is this just as bad? Or do you just drop cups/bags/other children! Would really appreciate some help here maybe I am missing something obvious.

Supercherry Thu 02-Apr-09 17:36:24

You're not hurting him bigbang- you would know if you were hurting him it's just that there is a possibility of dislocating something. I'm not sure how old they are before you can play swinging around by the arms type games. I'll try and find out. Can't you use reins or pushchair? Holding him around the waist is fine though.

I wouldn't have known about the possibility of dislocating something myself but luckily read it in a parenting book while I was pregnant. I think they should make more things clear in the hospital book when you have your baby.

screamingabdab Thu 02-Apr-09 18:23:18

bigbang You are not a bad mum!!

Arm round the waist is good. You might have to drop other things in an emergency.

And you might have to pick them up by the dungaree straps in a real "stopped in the middle of the road emergency" grin

cestlavielife Fri 03-Apr-09 11:29:31

the worrying thing is the anger and abuse you refer to - what strategies does your h have to deal with his anger? has he addressed this? does he use his own "time out" - see

linked to from

can he control his anger?

start logging this and other incidents to establish a patter of his anger towarsd you/the child...when eh breaks things etc. write down what triggered it, how you responded, what then was the outcome....

how can you change your reaction to his behaviour?

tehre are very worrying issues here that might result in someone getting hurt - nit just a dislocated elboow or shoulder (my dd has ahd several of those but ahs hypermobile joints so is prone)

messymissy Fri 03-Apr-09 12:36:55

Hi Cestlavielife tried that site but could not find the page. Can you check the link address please?

Wowzer - My DP undergoing anger management at moment as he storms about slamming doors etc, and also thinks its possible/acceptable to discipline a toddler - I prevent him every time as his response to her normal toddler actions is off the mark and I have to explain to him how to respond each and every time. I wonder if its because he hasnt been around as many children as me, or he is just too thick and controlling to care! Whatch out for the anger side of it as if they can;t control their initial anger response it is hard to see how they will cope when the toddler decides to have a normal terrible twos meltdown.

I also started to keep tabs on when he was worse and found that my DP is far far worse after he has been on a boys night out to play xbox - the hair trigger temper lasts for days.

Supercherry Fri 03-Apr-09 14:15:32

Accoring to the following website it is thought to be safe to pick up a child by their arm only after the age of 5.


cestlavielife Fri 03-Apr-09 14:25:58

or go from the site

Manage the risk - short-term solution
As a short-term solution you can read the leaflet below. It can help you understand how you get wound-up and how you can decide to walk out before it's too late, before you become violent. Remember, this is only a short-term solution and it is entirely your responsibility to behave in a non-abusive, non-violent way. Download Spot the warning signs, take a 'Time-Out'

wowzers Fri 03-Apr-09 20:41:37

Thanks for all your responses and sorry it's been a while since I checked in.

At least I know I wasn't overreacting by thinking that was not the right way to pick up a baby. And I gave DH some of the examples in this thread about dislocations. Thanks for the cautionary tales Harlot, whoisasking, Nabster, iwontbite. They may have saved another dislocation.

I also now know not to play swinging games with DD (2.5). She loves being swung up curbs when we're out walking, so we'll need to stop that!

Cestlavie the anger management stuff is useful to me and even better if I can get DH to read it. Even when he did calm down and apologise for grabbing DS like that, he said it was because he has so much anger inside of him because of me. So that leaflet rings true. DH doesn't consciously manage his anger, but maybe he'll do the timeouts?

rellen Sun 22-Aug-10 13:37:05

Absolutely, you did the right thing. No one should grab a child in anger, and that is what he did. This IS abuse and should NEVER happen again. If it does, you should do what it takes to remove the children from this environment, or you are enabling this abuse.

tortoiseonthehalfshell Mon 23-Aug-10 05:43:45

he said it was because he has so much anger inside of him because of me

Oh, eeek. So he has anger problems, shouts at the (very small) children, has been physically abusive to you before (when you were pregnant, right?), and he blames you for his continuing anger? And he talks about "chastising" a one year old.

If he's not taking responsibility for his anger, it's likely that another episode of physical abuse will happen. Throwing and breaking things is not normal, it's physically intimidating, and it's a huge red flag.

templemaiden Mon 23-Aug-10 10:37:01

I think it is an unacceptable way of lifting a small child - imagine danglig with all your weight while someone holds YOU by your upper arm.

I also have a story about a loving father who was playing with his daughter by swinging her around by her hands. Child was loving it, until it got a bit too far and ended up dislocating wrists, elbows AND shoulders!!

Conversely, I have been known to lift my kids up by their feet, but only in play, only when I am sure they are enjoying it, and never forcefully, always gently.

It's all about intent, isn't it?

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