My Baby Bumped Her Head: When to Worry
It’s any parent’s constant fear: the sound of your little one tripping or falling. Let’s face it, that awful thud sound can be terrifying. Let’s say the worst has happened – your baby bumped her head. Should you be worried about a head injury? Well, it depends.
Head injury is a term that can encompass a wide variety of injuries. It could be anything from a mild bump on the noggin to a far more serious brain injury. Before an injury occurs, it pays to know how to deal with the situation so you can act quickly should you need to. Knowing when to stay calm, and when to worry, can really help.
Frequent Falls: My Baby Bumped Her Head
First of all, let’s discuss why babies fall so much. Well, to be blunt, babies’ heads tend to be fairly large when compared to their bodies. Since they’re so top-heavy, they often trip and fall because of this disproportionate size. Now fortunately, little kids are far more resilient than many of us assume.
That said, the height of the fall can be a serious factor to consider. The higher the fall, the more likely it is that the injury will be severe. As you can probably imagine, falling off the couch is often much safer than a tumble from a tabletop or counter.
Still, each injury must be treated on an individual basis. Any fall can possibly cause a major injury. Let’s take a closer look at the type of injuries your baby may sustain from a bump on the head.
A mild head bump won’t include a brain injury or skull fracture. Often, if your baby bumped her head but only suffered a minor injury, it will likely manifest in a red mark or bump. There could even be a cut. The point is that these types of injuries are often nothing to worry about. Sure, your child will be uncomfortable, but with a bit of minor first aid, everything will be "A-Okay." For a bump on the head, be sure to place cool ice (or even a bag of frozen vegetables) on the wound. Rotate it on and off in short intervals. For minor cuts or scrapes, apply a bandage and antiseptic. Your little one may be crying, so do your best to comfort her during this time.
More Serious Injuries, Like Concussions
Beyond minor bumps and bruises, there are more serious injuries to worry about. Moderate to severe head injuries can include:
- skull fractures
- bleeding in or around the brain
- contusions or concussions
Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries. These often occur when someone experiences trauma to the head, such as forceful shaking or a heavy impact. Obviously, a fall can produce one of these. Basically, concussions can affect the brain’s ability to function properly. This damage often lasts for just a few days, but it can also cause permanent problems.
When it comes to serious bumps on the head, there is good news. According to one study, only about two to three percent of falls lead to a simple linear skull fracture, and most of these don’t cause neurological problems. Only about one percent of skull fractures related to accidental falls cause moderate to severe brain injury. That may sound scary, but these are actually very good odds. Like we said, kids are surprisingly resilient. To learn more about concussions in children, read our dedicated blog post.
When to Worry
As we’ve seen, more often than not, your baby is probably okay following a fall. Even if she is sleepy, it’s actually not unusual for a baby to react to stress by feeling a bit tired. All that crying and stress can really wear a little one out! Persistent drowsiness, on the other hand, is another story.
- Uncontrollable bleeding
- Excessive bruising and/or swelling
- A dent or bulging soft spot on the skull
- vomiting more than once
- unusual sleepiness and/or difficulty staying alert
- loss of consciousness or not responding to voice/touch
- blood or fluid draining from the nose or ears
- a seizure
- a suspected neck/spinal cord injury
- trouble breathing
When baby bumps her head, it can be traumatic for everyone involved. As we’ve seen, it is likely nothing, but it should always be taken seriously. As with any potential injury, don’t simply ignore your fears. If you are already worried, take your child for medical help. A qualified medical professional will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis for your particular situation.