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First Aid & Emergencies

Babysitting: Dealing With Falls

With all the running, climbing, and exploring kids do, it’s not surprising that falls are common. Although many falls result in mild bumps, cuts, and bruises, some falls can cause serious injuries that need immediate medical attention.

Here are some possible signs that a child had a serious fall:

  • a change in the way the child is acting
  • difficulty breathing or not breathing
  • seizure
  • unconsciousness
  • head, neck, or back pain

What to Do

If you think the child had a serious fall:

  • Don’t move the child. He or she might have a serious injury to the head, neck, back, hipbones, or thighs.
  • If the child stops breathing, call 911 (or have someone else call) and begin CPR immediately. If you are not trained in CPR, wait for emergency medical personnel.

If the child doesn’t seem to have serious injuries after a fall:

  • Comfort the child and check for injuries.
  • Place a cold compress or ice pack on any bumps or bruises.

Call the parents if a child hits or injures his or her head. They may want to call the doctor. They’ll also want to watch the child closely for the next 24 hours for unusual symptoms or behavior.

Luckily, you can take steps to help prevent falls — and make it less likely you’ll have to deal with the panic and worry that go with them. Always follow these simple rules:

  • Supervise kids at all times and enforce rules like using age-appropriate playground equipment and not running around pools.
  • Use safety straps for high chairs, changing tables, and strollers.
  • Require children to wear helmets and other safety gear while biking, skating, skateboarding, etc.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: May 2013