Falls and Head Injuries

January 1, 2017
Falls and Head Injuries

Falls are almost always scary, but not always serious.

Here are a few tips for caregivers and providers to remember about falls.

Focus on Prevention. Simple Steps to Prevent Falls Include:

  • Babies should never be left alone on a changing table, a couch, a bed, or any other piece of furniture. When your baby is on any surface, you should always try to keep one hand on the baby for safety. It is safer to leave your baby on the floor than in a higher place. Never let toddlers play alone on a bunk bed, fire escape, balcony, or high porch.
  • Stairs can be fun for children ages 9 months-2 years to crawl and climb on. Children this age must always be watched closely and gates are recommended as well. Children ages 2 and older may be able to climb stairs independently while holding a hand rail.  Teach your children to always hold the railing on stairs. Keep stairs free of clutter and make sure they are well lit.
  • Slippery or uneven surfaces. Children often walk and run without watching where they are going. Be careful to choose shoes that stay on your child’s feet well. Flip-flops and sandals can cause falls. Repair chipped or uneven floors or walkways. Use a rubber pad in the bathtub to help prevent slipping. Clean up kitchen or bathroom spills quickly as floors can be slick.
  • Making a home safer. Safety gates can be installed to block children from climbing. Window guards should be installed for any windows that open; screens alone are not strong enough to protect a child from falling. Avoid playing near windows and stairs, which could result in children falling. Ensure electrical cords are behind furniture or secured to the wall as it is an easy target for children to trip over. Cover sharp furniture with corner or edge bumpers.
  • It is very important for your child to play freely. However, playgrounds have many areas that can also be dangerous and you should stay very close to your child to help them avoid injury and to catch them if they slip or fall.  Making sure you have free hands to help your child is also important – Your child will be safer and you will play better together with your phone in your pocket.
  • Supervision is most important. Closely watch infants and toddlers around any fall hazards to help prevent injury.

Watch Your Language:

Saying “NO” a lot can make it less effective.  Try to use “NO” only when your child is in danger, and not to overuse it at other times.  By using it less, you will increase the chance that your child listens to you when it is most important.  For younger children who have trouble understanding when they are in danger, offer them a distraction to get them to move away from something that is causing concern.  They are usually easy to distract and will forget about the dangerous area or item quickly if they see that you are interested in something else.

Pay Attention To Age:

If an infant has a fall, they should always be evaluated immediately in the office or in the emergency room.

Older Children:

Falls from less than 3 ft. with no loss of consciousness and no bleeding can often be observed at home.

  • Concerning signs (when you need to call your doctor or visit the emergency room):
    • Vomiting
    • Headache
    • Abnormal gait
    • Abnormal movements
    • Vision complaints
    • Lethargy
    • Altered states of consciousness
  • Note: Swelling on the head at site of impact can be expected. Ice or a cool compress can be helpful.

Important note: The information contained here should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.