What to do if your baby has a fall

Falls and bumps are inevitable with young children, but one can make serious events less likely by accident proofing your baby’s environment.

Babies are fairly resilient, as bones are still soft and a bit more elastic than an adult’s, so that falls onto soft surfaces rarely result in fractures (e.g. from a bed to a carpeted floor).

When to worry after a fall:

  • A significant fall, e.g. from a table to a tiled floor. Note that immediate crying is reassuring
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Open wounds with possible underlying fractures as these will need immediate attention
  • Depressed fractures of the skull (like a dent in a ping pong ball)
  • Failure to move a limb as this might suggest a fracture
  • Persistent vomiting

Immediately after a fall:

  • Comfort your baby and carefully feel and examine the whole body, running your fingers over the skull, clavicles, arms, torso and legs.
  • If baby is conscious but irritable, try some sugar water i.e. 30ml of water with half a teaspoon of sugar. Give baby a dose of paracetamol syrup (5ml of syrup for 10kg or 1 dropper measure of drops).
  • Allow baby time to settle.
  • Sleepiness is not a worry and is part of recovery from the shock.

Consult your doctor or take him to the nearest emergency unit if baby fails to settle or if any of the above worries persist.

Dr Martin Bailey