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Children often bump or bang their heads and it can be difficult for parents to know whether it is serious or not. Any time a child has a blow to the head it is considered a head injury.
Most head injuries are not serious, especially in toddlers when they are developing motor skills. They can be especially prone to trips, falls and a host of other little accidents, that could lead to a bruise or bump on the head or an open wound. It is important to note that a fall from the child’s own height usually isn’t enough to cause a serious injury, but sometimes a blow to the head or falls from furniture can result in a more serious injury such as a skull fracture or concussion.
You may wonder if you should take your child to the hospital or take a conservative watch-and-wait approach. For anything more than a light bump on the head, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you call your child’s doctor for guidance or have them evaluated.
In a minor head injury, your child will be alert and interact appropriately following the injury. They usually cry immediately and will not lose consciousness. Sometimes a child will get so upset they throw up immediately after the injury. Once they calm down, they should be able to eat and drink normally without vomiting. They may also have bruising, mild swelling and/or an abrasion or cut to the head.
Based on the severity of the accident, your child may need to go to the ER for an X-ray of their skull or a CT scan. This would be to look for signs of swelling, bleeding, or fracture. Treatment of head injuries depends on the location of the injury, the severity of the injury, your child’s symptoms, and her age.
If your toddler has had a concussion, she will have to take it easy for the first few days. Make sure she gets plenty of rest, and limit her physical activities and other activities that require a lot of thinking and concentration. Also, avoid activities that could put your child at risk of injuring her head again. As time goes on and your child starts to feel better and has fewer symptoms, you can gradually increase her activity as she can tolerate it. If your toddler starts to have symptoms again after resuming more vigorous activity, have her rest and try again the next day. For prolonged symptoms, follow up with your Pediatrician or Healthcare provider.
The good news is that most kids will recover without complications. If the injury is minor, no treatment may be necessary. Just a little extra TLC should make things better. All toddlers experience an occasional bump on the head.
Remember, most toddler head injuries tend to be minor and don’t cause lasting damage. After a little (or a lot) of crying and some TLC, your toddler may forget all about it. If you have questions or concerns regarding your child’s accident, contact your primary healthcare provider or bring your child into an Urgent Care for further evaluation. If it’s a more serious injury, remain calm, call 911 or take your child to the Emergency Room.