Safety Guidelines for Kids' Lawnmower Use

What You Need to Tell Your Kids Before You Allow Them to Mow the Lawn

Young boy using a lawnmower
Young kids and lawnmowersnot a safe combination. Photo © Yellow Dog Productions/Getty Images

My son can't wait to earn some money of his own, and in the summer, the easiest strategy he can think of is starting a kids' lawnmower business with some friends. This would be great ​if they were older. Right now, he's only 11, and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), he just isn't old enough yet to be mowing anyone's lawn—including our own.

In fact, the AAP recently released a statement, in conjunction with four other well-known medical societies, titled Children and Lawn Mowers: A Dangerous Combination.

They not only urge parents to wait until children are at least 12 before allowing them to mow the lawn, they also caution parents not to allow children to play anywhere near the operation of either a push or ride-on lawn mower. They recommend:

  • 12 as the minimum age for operating a push mower, and 16 as the minimum age for operating a ride-on mower
  • The use of sturdy, closed-toe shoes (not sandals or flip-flops)
  • Picking up debris - such as sticks, stones, furniture, and toys - before mowing
  • Wearing both eye and hearing protection
  • Using the type of push mower that automatically stops moving forward when the handle is released
  • Not allowing children to ride along with adults or teens on ride-on mowers
  • Teaching children to play at a safe distance from anyone who is operating a lawn mower

As a single parent, adhering to these recommendations may change your lawn mowing routine. If you have young children, consider teaching your children to play on the front or back porch while you mow the lawn, mow the lawn after they go to bed at night, or send them to play at a neighbor's house while you mow (and offer to return the favor for that parent while they mow, too).

If you have older children, you may need to be more specific about teaching them lawn mowing safety guidelines, such as wearing sneakers, using goggles, and wearing hearing protection (in lieu of turning up their mp3 player to compete with the sound of the lawn mower).

Finally, when it comes to kids' lawnmower use, remember that safety takes precedence over things like appearance and straight lines.

Be careful to demonstrate safe techniques and check on novice lawn mowers frequently until you are sure they are both comfortable and competent.

Source: "Children and Lawn Mowers: A Dangerous Combination." American Academy of Pediatrics. 8 June 2010. Web. 29 June 2010. [a href="http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/LawnMower2010.htm">http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/LawnMower2010.htm].