A Parent’s Guide to Toddler Head Injuries
“My Toddler Bumped their Head, What Should I Do?”
One of the biggest fears among parents with toddlers is to have your baby suffer an accidental head bump. For this reason, today, we will learn more about toddler head injuries, what they are, how to prevent them, and when to go to the ER.
Bruises and bumps are inevitable during the toddler years, thanks to your young one’s developing motor skills and their increasing curiosity and need for independence.
Toddlers are by nature accident-prone, think stumbles, trips, falls, and a host of other minor accidents that could lead to a bump to the head.
Most head bumps are usually nothing to worry about. Still, occasionally, your toddler’s head injury could be serious and result in a concussion, and in rare cases, if the blow is severe enough, it can cause bleeding or swelling of the brain.
That is why it’s good to learn how to spot the signs of a severe toddler head injury and when you need to seek medical help.
What Is A Head Injury?
Let us first explore the different types of toddler head injuries. A head injury is any impact or trauma to any area of the head, including the forehead, the scalp, the skull, the blood vessels, and rarely the brain.
In toddlers, mild head injuries usually result in bruises or bumps on the head or a small wound like a scrape or cut.
More serious blows, although less common, tend to cause more serious symptoms. The most common types of severe head injuries include:
Contusion: Contusions are bruises and happen when small blood vessels become damaged by the impact.
Most contusions are superficial and can be painful to the touch, but they typically heal on their own. However, when a serious head injury happens, deeper bruising can occur, affecting the brain; this is known as a brain contusion and will require medical attention.
Scalp Wound: Shallow cuts on the scalp are nothing to worry about, as long you keep the injured area clean. However, deep or gaping wounds may require stitches.
Concussion: Forceful hits to the head or the body can cause the brain to move within the skull. The sudden movent can result in chemical changes and cause damage to some of the brain cells. This type of injury is serious; if you think your child has a concussion, you should see visit the ER right away.
Skull Fracture: When the impact is strong enough, a bone in the skull can break. Skull fractures usually happen along with other types of injuries, such as a concussion and bleeding.
Know Where to Go in Case of an Emergency.
Toddler Head Injury Prevention Tips
The following are some basic toddler head injury prevention tips to keep in mind:
- Childproof your home: Add baby gates to the stairs, childproof door locks, cabinet locks, door handle, etc.
- Have them wear proper footwear. Sneakers on hard play surfaces, while sandals are famous for trips & falls. As toddlers have large heads, they do not react fast enough to catch themselves to prevent head hitting.
- Never leave them unattended. Adult supervision is particularly needed while at the playground or on high surfaces such as decks.
- Proper equipment during play. Make sure that they use helmets for bike rides, scooters, power wheels, toddler skates, etc.
- Childproof are sharp corners. Cover all sharp furniture edges and corners with bumpers or safety padding.
When to Go to The ER for a Toddler Head Injury
When it comes to severe toddler head traumas, prompt medical attention is critical, especially if you think they may have a concussion or a skull fracture.
You should go to the nearest ER if your toddler fell from a height of 5 feet or more. You should also seek medical help or if they were hit with fast-moving or heavy objects such as a ball or a piece of furniture.
You should call 911 or bring your child to the emergency room if you spot any of the following symptoms:
When to Come to Altus Emergency Center
Bring your baby to the nearest Altus Emergency Center if you notice any of these symptoms:
- They’ve lost consciousness (even for a moment) or appear dazed.
- They can’t stop crying.
- They vomit, especially if they do so more than once after hitting their head
- They seem clumsier or exhibit less coordination than usual afterward or aren’t speaking or walking normally
- You have trouble waking them up after they’ve dozed off
- You notice that their pupils (the dark central part of the eye) are different sizes.
- They are bleeding heavily in the head or face, including bleeding from the nose or ears.
- There’s an object sticking out of the head wound.
- They show signs of memory loss or confusion
- They have a persistent or worsening headache, or they have significant neck pain.
- They are acting more aggressive or are more irritable than usual.
- You notice a visible dent on their head or bruising under the eyes or behind the ears
Thankfully, most toddler head injuries are mild and won’t cause any lasting damage. However, if it’s a severe head injury, the most important thing you can do is stay calm, check your child, and bring them to the ER if they are awake. If your child is unconscious, don’t move them and call 911 immediately.
The pediatric trained physicians at Altus Emergency Centers is always ready to treat your child. Remember, we always treat our patients like family, so you know your child is in the best hands.