(Above: I slap my face in disbelief while Lilly freaks out about being stuck. You might think we are crazy parents for pausing to take a photo, but I think it will come in handy in her teen years...)
Last night my two and half year old, Lilly, decided to stick her head between the railings leading downstairs. She was just trying to get my husband’s attention and then suddenly realized she was stuck. She began to panic and cry. I was totally calm. I learned the trick on getting your toddler’s head unstuck without calling 911 or destroying your banister from my own personal experience. We even stopped to take a photo before we freed her. Of course that pissed her off just a little, but I need evidence to embarrass her at her sweet sixteen one day.
When I was two, I also stuck my head through the iron rails separating the sunken living room from the foyer in our Long Beach, NY apartment. I remember thinking I could get down to the living room fast if I just went through the rails… Which of course turned the routine trip down the two steps into the living room into a four hour fiasco. My mother had no idea what to do. She called my father who was a work. She called the building super, who couldn’t be reached. She called a few neighbors who came over to help. Next my mother COVERED my entire head with gobs of Vaseline with the hope of slipping me out. It didn’t work. She set up a TV tray for me with cup of juice that had a long straw so I could reach it. She put some sesame street on and turned the TV so I could see while she tried to figure it out. Meanwhile my father raced home from work. My mother says he was doing 70 mph down residential streets. They were doing everything in their power to not have to call the fire department who would no doubt destroy the iron rail in the apartment they didn’t yet own. Then the two neighbors had a brilliant idea. Since a child’s head is the biggest part of their body, why not just put the rest of my body through the railing, instead of trying to pull my head out? They turned my shoulders sideways and carefully passed me through. Simple as that!
So when Lilly got stuck we immediately knew what to do and, without any problems, it worked and she was freed in under a minute. Lilly learned an important lesson: Never stick your head anywhere you aren't positive you can get it out again.
I decided to write this post because I was shocked that this helpful little tip couldn’t easily be found by Googling how to get my kids head unstuck from a railing. In fact there were a lot of posts suggesting people rub butter all over their kids heads, get strong men to pull the railings apart, and even just to keep pulling until you free them. So, if your kids head gets stuck, there is no need to pull, or butter their heads (it took around three months for my mother to finally get the last of the Vaseline out of my hair, just a thought before you break out the butter), cut the railing, or call 911. Relax. Just turn that kid sideways and pass them through the railing. It’s easier if you have two people, one to hold their shoulders and one to hold the child’s waist. You might want to pretend you don’t know how you’re going to get them out for at least a couple of minutes, just to freak them out enough so that they don’t ever do it again. This probably won’t work with say, a six year old. Unless you have a skinny six year old. But with a toddler, it works like a charm. Hope this prepares many of you for the day when your kid decides sticking his or her head through a railing is a brilliant idea.
(Below: A diagram for you visual learners out there.)