What should you do if your baby has a fall or suffers a blow to the head? Know the important signs to watch out for after any head injuries
As careful as you are when it comes to your baby’s safety and well-being, accidents are bound to happen.
An occasional small bump or bruise is inevitable, but if your baby suffers a fall or receives a blow to the head, there are some important warning signs you should watch out for and know when to bring him to the emergency room to get thoroughly checked out.
Head injuries in young children
According to Dr Chong Shu-Ling, Staff Physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), the Department of Emergency Medicine at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital sees an estimated 28,700 children presenting with injuries of all severities, in a year.
“This makes up about 15 – 17 per cent of all children seeking medical attention in the Emergency Department”, she says.
For example, among children aged 2 years and younger who are brought to the KKH’s Children’s Emergency with head injuries, almost 90 per cent of these take place in the home, and up to half of these occur in the bedroom.
In most cases of childhood injury, the injury is minor and the child recovers fully after receiving first aid or medical treatment.
In a few cases, the injury is severe and can cause permanent damage, or even death — such as the unfortunate incident where an eight month old baby boy in Pasir Ris died after falling from his pram.
What should you do?
If your bub has an injury to his head, you should try to remain calm, console him, then tend to his injury before determining whether or not to bring him to see a doctor.
Using a clean cloth or bandage, apply direct pressure on the wound for several minutes.
Don’t be too alarmed at the blood because there are more blood vessels around the face and head, so it may just look worse than it actually is.
Small bump on the head
Due to broken blood vessels under the skin, a large swelling can form a bump — also known as a “goose egg” — which can quickly go down if treated with an ice pack and some pressure.
If you don’t have an ice pack, you can also use a bag of frozen veggies from your freezer, which will help ease any discomfort and reduce inflammation.
Minor cuts and scrapes
After gently rinsing the area with mild baby soap and warm water, apply some antibacterial ointment and cover it with a bandage to prevent infections.
Your baby might vomit after getting a head injury just because he is feeling upset about the whole ordeal and hurting — which is perfectly normal, unless there is persistent vomiting over the next 6 to 24 hours.
To soothe him, you can continue to breastfeed or if he’s above 6 months old, then you can offer him clear liquids.
In the case of a concussion
If your baby received a serious blow to his head or was knocked unconscious, even if it was just for one minute, he could have a bruise to the brain, otherwise known as a concussion.
In this scenario, it is recommended that you try to keep your baby awake for the first hour or so and if he’s crying and not acting like his usual self, this could mean that he is feeling dizzy or confused.
If he does fall asleep, then keep on checking his skin colour and breathing pattern — if it appears to be normal, there’s no need to wake him.
But if he looks pale or his breathing seems to be irregular, rouse him gently from his sleep — if he fusses and tries to go back to sleep, this means that everything is fine, but if you can’t wake him up, bring him straight to the emergency room.
Go to the next page to see what are the other warning signs to look out for in babies with head injuries