Babies and children often bang their heads. This is partly because their heads are disproportionately large compared to the size of their bodies; but also because they don’t tend to look where they’re going and are oblivious to many dangers around them. Head injuries are frightening and it can be difficult to assess how seriously they are hurt and what you should do about it. Fortunately, most head injuries are superficial and only involve the scalp. This can be alarming as the head and face are extremely vascular and consequently often bleed profusely, but is rarely life-threatening. A severe blow to the head or repeated injury can cause damage to the brain and it is signs of this that people need to watch out for.

Head Injuries - What to Do and How to Help

What to look for following a head injury

Call 999 or 112 if a baby or child is injured and they lose consciousness, even momentarily.

Or if they:

  • won’t stop crying
  • complain of head and neck pain
  • are unable to walk normally

If the child has not lost consciousness, is alert and behaving normally after the head injury:

  • Reassure the child and remain calm.
  • Control any bleeding with direct pressure using a clean, non-fluffy cloth.
  • Apply a wrapped ice pack or instant cold pack to the injured area for 10 minutes (this will reduce bruising but has no effect on the severity of any internal head injury).
  • Observe the child carefully for the next 24 hours. If you notice any worrying signs (see below), get medical help immediately.
  • If the incident has occurred close to bedtime or naptime and your child falls asleep soon afterwards, check in continually to look for anything unusual.

Worrying signs

  • Twitching limbs
  • Disturbances in colour
  • Disturbance of breathing.

It’s fine for your child to go to sleep, however do not confuse falling asleep with losing consciousness!

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Emma Hammett
Author: Emma Hammett