Are frequent falls normal?
For a toddler, an adventure awaits them every day. And as with any epic adventure, accidents can and do happen. Your toddler’s insatiable curiosity for the world around them, coupled with their need for constant motion, is not something you can control. However, there are simple steps you can take to promote fall safety and minimise injuries when falls happen.
Signs you should go to the Accident & Emergency (A&E)
If your toddler has suffered an obvious open head injury or loses consciousness, it is obvious that you should seek medical attention immediately. But when there appears to be no physical sign of injury, the line is a little more blurred. In such cases, you should seek medical attention if you notice any of the following warning signs within a week of a fall.
Your child is:
- being inconsolable
- complaining of a headache
- constant severe headache
- continually rubbing their head
- experiencing sensitivity to light or noise
- having a loss of balance
- having pupils that aren’t the same size
- having yellow fluid coming from their nose or ears
- persistently vomiting or feeling sick
You should also seek immediate medical attention if you notice a bulging of the soft spot on the top of your child’s head or if their sleeping patterns change in the week following a fall.
What to do when you don’t see any obvious signs?
Though it is hard for a parent to not overthink a fall, not all falls are emergencies. Here are steps you can take If your toddler doesn’t have any of the symptoms that require emergency medical attention:
- Comfort your toddler while looking for any signs of injury
- Let your toddler rest under your supervision as you monitor for any unusual symptoms or behaviour
- Place a cold compress on any bumps or bruises
Prevention measures to take
Keeping your toddler safe from falls requires more than just blind luck. Here are a few steps you can take to promote fall safety and minimise injuries both around the house and outdoors:
- Apply non-skid strips to the bottoms of bathtubs
- Avoid accordion gates, which can trap a toddler’s head
- Don’t use a walker for an infant or toddler
- Move furniture away from windows to prevent toddlers climbing onto sills
- Never leave a baby unattended on a changing table or bed
- Never leave a child alone around stairs
- Remove all loose rugs
- Use childproof window guards
- Childproof your outdoor playground equipment (eg. no loose parts or rust)
- Ensure playground surfaces are shock absorbent. (eg. sand and wood chips)
- Ensure sidewalks and outdoor steps are clear of clutter
- Hold your toddler’s hand when using an escalator
- Never allow a toddler to play on a trampoline, even with adult supervision
- Only put your toddler in a shopping cart with a designated seat with a safety belt
When in doubt, rush down to the A&E
It can be difficult to make sound and rational split-second decisions when you witness your toddler take a hard fall for the first time. (It doesn’t get easier). If you ever find yourself in doubt, it is advisable to bring your toddler in to the A&E for a clearer diagnosis.
Article reviewed by Dr Low Eu Hong, paediatrician at Parkway East Hospital
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