It happened. The thing you feared most has come knocking at your door, and now you’re scrambling, trying to find a solution to ease the hurt. As parents, it can be distressing to see our little ones in pain, and even more frightening to think that we’re ill-prepared or uninformed about the steps we need to take next. Rather than guess, it can help to think about what to do when baby bumps head ahead of time, so that when it happens, the situation isn’t quite as terrifying.
What do I do if my baby bumps his head?
First and foremost, relax.
In instances like these, you need to remain calm in order to best be of service to your baby in a potentially serious situation.
After you’ve grabbed your baby and removed them from the hazardous situation, examine the impacted area. Does it appear red, swollen and tender? Has it taken on the shape of a goose egg?
All of these symptoms are to be expected, but you aren’t out of the woods yet.
Next, you need to check for bleeding. If it is profuse, take a wash cloth to wipe the area and inspect the actual size of the cut. Has the skin separated? You may need to consult a doctor as to whether or not the wound will require stitches. Apply pressure with a wash cloth, and clean the wound with a mild soap before applying a bandage.
Once your little one is all bandaged up, sit him or her on your lap and apply a cold compress. If there was no blood, this is one of the first things you;ll do following the injury.
The cold compress could be in the form of ice wrapped in a sandwich bag then wrapped in a paper towel or could be as simple as using a frozen bag of fruit or veggies wrapped in a similar barrier. Whichever you choose, make sure intermittently lift the compress to give the baby a break before reapplying it again. Do this for a maximum of 10 minutes.
Now, for the most important part in this process. For the next 24 to 48 hours, it is imperative that you watch your child.
Because it is during this time that your baby may exhibit concerning signs that may warrant a trip to the hospital. Signals like unexplained drowsiness, unresponsiveness and more could be indicative of a concussion, so it is important to act if you feel that your baby is behaving differently than usual.
Is It Normal for a Baby to Bump His Head?
As you might guess, a baby hitting his or her head is completely normal, especially in the mobile stage of babyhood. In fact, we recommend that as your baby approaches those exciting mobile years, which for some occurs as early as 7-8 months, you begin baby proofing your house to help lower the risks of head injuries.
Cushions like these are designed to be placed around the sharp edges and perimeters to curb head injuries in little ones. Think of affixing them to table edges, fireplace ledges, TV stands and anywhere else you think your baby will take a liking to at this young age.
In addition to being mobile, some babies, even those that aren’t walking or crawling yet, tend to tip over, especially when they are first learning to sit on their own. To help with this, never leave your baby alone while he or she is sitting up and, if you must sit them down, be sure that there is nothing in either direction that your baby could hit his or her head on, and ensure that there is a pillow behind and on the sides of them at all times.
Oh, and remember that Snoogle you bought back when you were pregnant? These make great “catchers” for wobbly babies that tend to topple over, as you can position them to surround your baby on all sides at once.
Just be sure to supervise your child when using these, and be sure never place them in the bed with your sleeping baby. Doing so may cause suffocation.
What to Watch for After Child Hits Head?
You may be wondering, “But how do I know if baby is OK after hitting head?” It’s a good question, and one that’s worth exploring in detail.
As mentioned earlier, you can expect your little one to have a bump on the head, some bleeding and some pain. All of that is normal.
What isn’t normal however, is a profuse amount of bleeding that won’t stop, inconsolable and ongoing crying and mood changes that last for more than an hour.
Moreover, if you notice that your baby doesn’t respond to pain or your voice, is overly drowsy, is having seizures or is throwing up, you should seek help immediately. Also be on the lookout for confusion, fluid leaking from ears, imbalanced steps or crawling, persistent headaches and oversleeping.
Baby Bumped Head: When to Worry
When it comes to the question of, “Should I take my child to hospital after hitting head?” the answer may shock you.
In many instances, a bumped head isn’t anything to worry about. Similar to how you can have a sense of when your baby is poorly, such as taking your baby’s temperature by touch, you’ll likely know when the bump is severe enough to rush your baby to the hospital.
Honestly, even extra bleeding can seem worse than it actually is, and those goose -sized bumps that form? They’re usually just an indicator of your baby’s body doing it’s job.
Having said that, you’ll still want to use caution, common sense and your instincts when it comes to a head injury with your child. While it is true that many bumps look worse than they actually end up being, there is always the chance that things could actually be worse than they appear.
As a rule of thumb, always check for the previously mentioned warning signs, including vomiting, seizures, inconsolable crying and fluid leaking from the ears, and always trust your gut if you aren’t sure, or if your child just doesn’t seem to be acting right.
Can I Put Ice on My Baby’s Head?
You can and should ice your baby’s head after a fall. Just be sure that you aren’t doing this too long and that you are wrapping the ice in a towel, tea bag or some other sort of barrier to block the sting of the ice.
Other home remedies for baby head bump include using frozen items from the fridge to relieve the pain, and also using a mild soap and water for any bleeding cuts.
Apply pressure and a bandage, and only use a genetic acetaminophen or Tylenol when absolutely needed. Remember, unnecessary usage of pain reliever may dull symptoms and keep you from being able to detect serious signs of a concussion, so it may be better to let your baby’s body take its course, rather than take the risk of missing concerning symptoms.
Worried about head bumps and other injuries while out and about? You might consider stocking your diaper bag with a specially designed travel first aid kit that will be light-weight and easy to take with you on the go.
Is It Okay for Baby to Sleep After Bumping Head?
Assuming that you aren’t noticing any other alarming signs in your child after his or her head injury, it is okay to let your child go to sleep or take a nap.
The most important thing, however, is that you are monitoring your child vigilantly for at least 24-48 hours after the head injury took place. This means you’ll need to check in on your child at least every 2-3 hours while he or she is sleeping to ensure that everything still seems okay.
What to Do When Newborn Bumps Their Head
A newborn bumping his or her head isn’t uncommon, and can happen in a variety of scenarios. Unfortunately, because a newborn’s skull is still developing and the head is still soft, head injuries for a newborn baby can be a lot more serious.
While the best thing you can do for a newborn to keep head injuries from happening is not to put the baby in compromising positions, accidents do happen and it is important to know what to do when they do.
If something happens and your newborn incurs a head injury, look for the aforementioned signs and pay very close attention to your little one’s behaviour.
Is he or she crying non-stop? Do you see any bleeding? Is he or she unusually quiet or refusing to eat? These clues, along with the others mentioned, are sure signs that you need to get your newborn to the hospital, immediately.
Likewise, if your baby seems to cry when you move him or her, call your local emergency line to ensure that he or she gets the proper care. You may attempt to gently move him or her to a safe location if possible until help arrives, but even then, be sure to hold your newborn still and in your lap in case there is a neck or spine injury involved.
Bear in mind that, depending on the severity of the impact, you may need to go ahead and have your little one seen by a medical professional regardless, even if your newborn seems “okay”, as a newborn’s skull is fragile and may be damaged more easily.
Tips to Prevent Head Injury in Children
Sometimes, it isn’t just the rock and tumble that your baby takes that causes a head injury. Situational circumstances, such as being involved in a car accident, may also play a role. No matter the situation, you can try the following helpful tips to prevent future injury, applicable for children of any age.
- Safety At Home – Got a flight of stairs? You’ll want to be extra cautious about keeping an eye on your little one. The same goes for sharp corners, edges and hard surfaces. Moreover, for added precaution, be sure not to place your little one in positions that may be compromising, such as underneath you as you put heavy dishes away, or wearing your baby in a carrier while lifting heavy objects. And though you may have fond memories of jumping on the bed, sofa or other high surfaces from when you were a kid, we at Yellodoor don’t recommend letting your little one follow suit.
- Car Safety– Caring for a child who was injured in a car accident is, indeed, a chilling thought, and as such, it is worth giving attention to. Never, under any circumstances, allow a child to ride without a car seat, unless he or she is of age, and always be sure to adhere to the correct guidelines and restrictions for your area in regards to child booster and car seat use and installation. Furthermore, be sure to steer clear of drugs, alcohol, medications and other substances that could hinder your ability to focus on the road. Check out our post on how to properly secure your child in a car seat for more tips on child car safety.
- Helmet Wearing– Whether your little one is just learning to ride a bike, is going for his or her first sledding adventure or is signing up for junior sports, you should ensure that your child is wearing a helmet at all times. Doing so will greatly lower the risks of a head injury, and could save your little one a trip to the E.R.
- Night-time Safety– Does your tiny tot like to get up and roam around at night? This could spell trouble, especially if you’ve got a flight of stairs. Add to that the fact that it is dark and that you are likely asleep and, well… you see where we are going with this. Thus, to prevent hazardous situations, install baby gates, bed rails, locks on doors and whatever else you have to do to keep your child safe. In addition, pay very close attention to your little one around the ages of 3 months, when he or she begins to roll. You may find your little one rolling, or for an older baby, crawling, off of the bed, resulting in a head injury. And no matter what you do….never fall asleep with a baby in your arms!
- Safety Outdoors– Headed to the park? You may already have the helmet, but keep your eyes peeled for potentially hazardous surfaces as well. Playground surfaces should be soft, like turf, mulch or rubber chips. And if you aren’t sure whether or not a playground piece of equipment is age-appropriate for your child, we recommend you skip it all together. It isn’t worth the risk!
Tumbles Happen… Know What to Do When They Do!
All in all, when it comes to head injuries, you’ll want to keep a close watch on your baby or toddler, but be sure to expect a few tumbles, too. Remember, that most head injuries aren’t quite as bad as they seem, but some can cause serious, long-term and irrevocable damage.
As such, be vigilant and trust your instincts if something doesn’t seem right after your baby has taken a tumble or fall. Call your local doctor for help, or emergency services if severe signs are noted.
Want even more information about childhood head injuries? Check out this article on head injury in children by Harvard Medical School for even more information.