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. The first thing to do when your child falls is to relax. Most falls are NOT serious. Kids are very resilient. Most falls seem worse than they really are, and usually do not require a call to your doctor or a trip to the ER.
What type of falls to worry about:
The most common falls are babies rolling off the bed or couch or falling out of an infant seat or stroller. These falls are usually only 1 to 2 feet high, and almost never result in any significant injury, even if onto a hard floor.
Sometimes an object will fall off of a table or furniture onto baby. This rarely results in any significant injury.
Many babies trip and fall while running and hit their head on an object or the floor. Unless there is a large cut that needs stitches (click here to help decide if stitches are needed), you probably don’t need emergency attention or a call to your doctor.
Another common fall is while being carried by an adult and the adult trips and falls onto a baby. If the adult was running, this can result in injury. If the adult was walking, however, then baby usually will not suffer any significant injury.
Falls from a height greater than 3 feet, such as a counter top, high chair, changing table, or table can result in injury, especially if onto a hard floor.
What to do if your child falls:
- Consol your child. Stay calm and don’t panic. This will help your child calm down so you can better assess your child’s condition.
- Don’t rush to page your doctor or call 911 just yet.
- Check your child’s limbs, head and body for any bumps, bruises, redness, swelling, or deformity. Undress your child to do this. IF YOU DON’T SEE ANY SWELLING OR LARGE BUMPS ON THE HEAD OR BODY, THERE IS PROBABLY NO SIGNIFICANT INJURY.
- If you see any obvious swelling or deformity in the extremities, or you child is limping for more than a few hours, you should go to the ER or your doctor’s office.
- Assess your child for head injury. Click here to help you decide if your child has any head injury and what to watch for.
Paging your doctor:
If your child shows no signs of serious head injury (according to our head injury guidelines) and there is no sign of broken bones, then you probably don’t need to page your doctor. Observe your child for any signs of worsening.
Even if your child has a bump on the head, you usually don’t need to page the doctor. Just treat your child according to our head injury guidelines.
However, if your child fell from a high place such as a highchair, tabletop, countertop, or changing table onto a hard floor, AND you know baby hit head first, you should probably go straight to an ER without even paging your doctor. If your baby has such a fall onto carpet, however, then you should look for signs of head or body injury and page your doctor if your baby shows any of the warning signs mentioned above.