The sickening thud of your little one bashing their head – usually on a hard surface and often because they’ve fallen off something – is a sound every parent has experienced at some point. ‘It’s very common,’ says Dr Rita Kovesdi, Specialist Paediatrician at Health Bay Polyclinic in Umm Suqeim. ‘And the first time it happens is when babies suddenly become more mobile, and end up rolling off their changing mat, a sofa or a bed.’
‘It’s scary,’ she explains, ‘especially for first time parents who tend to be more anxious. But in the vast majority of cases, your baby will be fine.’ Dr Rita advises parents to assess the damage and look for signs of a more serious injury. ‘The first thing you should consider is the height of the fall. If it was considerable, from a table top for example, the impact will be much greater. Gauge the reaction in your child. Were they knocked out? Or did they cry right away?’
If bub was knocked out cold – even for just a few seconds, you must visit a doctor. But, if your baby cries right away, then calms down and seems fine, adopt a watch-and-wait approach, Check their pupils to make sure they are both the same size (different-sized pupils could indicate a problem) and don’t let them go to sleep right away – even if they bumped their head right before nap time. Keep them awake and observe them for at least half an hour, and check on them throughout their nap. If your child vomits after the fall, is pale and seems unusually drowsy, take them to the clinic.
Bumps to heads typically happen on the forehead, producing a very large bruise, but not much else. ‘This is the hardest part of the skull, but there are lots of blood vessels there too, so egg-sized bumps, with bruising that can spread down and blacken the eyes, are quite common. In these cases, the damage looks far worse than it is, says Dr Rita. ‘However, if your child has knocked themselves on the temple, where the bone is thinner, and they hit themselves on a sharper surface, like the corner of a door frame, that can be more serious.’ Unless there are obvious symptoms, the advice is to hold fire and keep an eye on bub for the next 24 hours. And, says Dr Rita, ‘These accidents happen all the time. Almost every parent has experienced it at some point. It’s part of life.’
Bruised bonce advice
Take your little bruiser to the doctor immediately if:
• They’ve been knocked out.
• They are bleeding (cuts to the forehead often require a stitch or two)
• They look pale, weak and disorientated
• They vomit
• Their pupils are different sizes
Watch and wait if:
• They cry immediately and are not dazed
• They are fully conscious and alert, and calm down within a reasonable time.
• Their pupils are the same size
Treating a bump:
• Apply a cold compress over the swollen area to reduce the bruising. Remember that bumps to the forehead can look a lot more dramatic than they are. And, they tend to look worse before they look better.
• Calpol or baby brufen can help alleviate a post bump headache.
• Don’t let them sleep for at least half an hour after the bump.
• Check on them periodically once they do go for a nap, to make sure they are resting normally.
• Continue to observe their behaviour for 24 hours.
Dr Rita Kovesdi is a Specialist Paediatrician at the Health Bay Polyclinic in Umm Suqeim, 04 348 7140.