How To Spot Signs of Concussion In A Toddler

Children will eventually bump their heads, we can watch them carefully and take every safety precaution imaginable, but it will still happen sooner or later. Now while a bump on the head is usually not much to worry about there is always the risk of a more serious injury.

The head is a sensitive place after all especially with a young child, but that doesn’t mean you should panic if your child falls or bumps their head against something. Whatever happens, stay calm and cool-headed because if you to notice the signs of a concussion in a toddler you’ll need to pay close attention.

A concussion is not always the onset of doom either despite what movies and TV shows might tell you. There is certainly a lot of variation when it comes to concussions some can be very mild while others can be much more dangerous. In the majority of cases, they will be temporary issues as well with no long-lasting damage.

Spotting The Signs of A Concussion

One of the tricky parts of spotting a concussion is that it’s not always obverse. You might know for a fact that your child has suffered a head trauma of some sort, but they might not show any noticeable symptoms. Sometimes you can suffer a concussion and not actually feel or show any symptoms till later on.

So, there is a lot of variables to take into consideration and this is made either more difficult when it comes to young children because they won’t usually be able to tell you or explain how they are feeling. Even young children who can talk might find explaining how they are feeling difficult, which makes spotting a concussion during the early stages quite hard.

This is bad news because the earlier you spot a concussion the better off your child will be. But likewise, you don’t want to run to the doctors or casualty every time your child hits their head, do you? So, let look at what warning signs you should watch out for. To make this easier I’ve broken it into two main categories.

Symptoms For Babies and Toddlers

Babies and toddlers are more adventurous that many people think which means a bump or knock to the head are more common than you might think. But what should you watch out for if your child bumps their head?

Crying: This symptom might not be the most helpful because even if it’s just a little bump on the head a toddler or baby will likely cry! But if the crying doesn’t stop after a while or is on and off then it could be a sign of a concussion. Don’t panic right away give your child/ baby time to calm down but if the crying continues you should call a doctor.

Vomiting: Again, this can sometimes happen due to shock especially if your toddler/ baby has eaten not long before bumping their head. However, it is a more serious warning sign to watch out for and there is no harm in calling a doctor if your child is sick after hitting their head.   

Bruising: Bruising will likely happen with any bump to the head a young child’s skin is very sensitive after all. But if the bruising is big and far-reaching then going to your doctors to get the injury checked out is advisable.

Sudden Behaviour Changes: This is the warning sign that you really need to watch for carefully because you might not always pick up on it. If your child as a rapid change in behaviour after bumping their head, then it could be due to a concussion.

Behaviour changes can take many forms with some of the most common being changes to their sleeping habits or a loss of interest in their usual habits. They might also suddenly become more irritable as well, so keep your eyes peeled and stay alert. If you notice some strange behaviour consult your doctor.

Symptoms For Children Aged Two and Up

Children who are a little older will show more signs of a concussion which makes spotting them a lot easier. Many of the symptoms we previously looked at still apply but when it comes to behaviour changes there are more things to watch out for, which we’ve laid out below.

Difficulty With Balance: Having difficulty with balance after a head injury is normal but if it doesn’t dissipate quickly then it could be a sign of a concussion. Even if your child can talk they still might struggle to fully explain what is wrong so keep an eye on their movement and make sure their balance is back to normal. 

Increased Sensitivity: More sensitivity to light or movement is a notable sign of a concussion so ask your child how they’re feeling and if things look normal to them. They might also experience blurry vision especially if your child wears glasses.

Fatigue/ Dizziness: Dizziness is again relatively normal after a knock to the head, but it should again only be a temporary symptom. If your child is still feeling dizzy later on, then I would advise calling a doctor as soon as possible just to get them checked out.

Forgetfulness/ Confusion: This is one that might take form later on so stay alert for it. If your child starts showing increased signs of forgetfulness or confusion after a head injury then they could have a concussion. So, call a doctor if you notice your child showing this symptom.

Treating A Concussion

Concussions can only really be treated with rest, but this doesn’t mean sleep either in fact if your child does suffer a knock to the head you shouldn’t let them sleep straight away. It means a rest from physical and mental activity, so you should ensure your child takes a break from the television or computer.

Using screens will increase the pressure on the brain which is the last thing you want if your child as a concussion. Early nights and naps are a good way to let your child get some rest and keep their head clear. 

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