Infants and toddlers are prone to rolling off beds or couches, falling out of high chairs, strollers, car seats, or swings, and getting bumps and bruises from all kinds of things. Almost all children bump their heads every now and then. While these injuries can be upsetting, most head injuries are minor and do not cause serious problems. Children are very resilient. Most falls seem worse than they really are. Precautions should be taken to prevent falls.
What to do if your child falls:
- Console your child- Stay calm and don’t panic. This will help your child to calm down so you can better assess your child’s condition.
- Check your child- Check Head, body, arms, and legs for any bumps, bruises, redness, swelling, or deformity. (If you do NOT see any swelling or large bumps on the body or head, there is probably no significant injury.).
If your child is alert and responds to you, the head injury is usually mild; no tests or X-rays are needed. Your child may cry from pain from pain or fright, but this should last no longer than 10 min. You may need to apply a cold compress for 20 minutes to help swelling go down and then watch your child closely for a period of time.
The concern after a significant head injury is a possible concussion with bruising, or injury to the brain. A large “Goose-egg” in a child who acts fine after an injury may be a reassuring sign that the impact went to the outside of the skull. Skull fractures are rarely a concern in a child who is acting fine. In fact, small non-displaced skull fractures heal on their own without treatment and there is more of a risk from radiation to the brain when unnecessary X-rays are done. Skull X-rays do not show brain injury. This is demonstrated on a CAT scan available at hospital ERs, which may be needed if a brain injury is suspected.
The following signs suggest a possible concussion or significant head injury. If any of these occur, you should call Dr. Eisner’s office, and your child should be seen as soon as possible. For emergencies call 911 or bring your child to Texas Children’s ER.
- Cannot be woken up
- Infant or toddler NOT acting like they normally do
- Won’t nurse or feed
- Has bulging soft spot (fontanel) when not crying
- Stumbling or difficulty walking
- Vomiting more than 2 times
- A constant headache that gets worse
- Slurred speech or confusion
- Dizziness that does not go away
- Extreme irritability or other abnormal behavior
- Oozing blood or water fluid from the nose or ears
- Unequal size of the pupils(the dark center part of the eyes)
- Unusual paleness that last for more than an hour