While parents try their best to take care of an infant after they are home from the hospital, hoping that the baby will be safe all the time may not necessarily be practical thinking. Falling off the bed, for instance, is a common accident that happens in many houses, even after parents have taken all precautionary measures to baby-proof their home.

Dr Lini Balakrishnan, a consultant paediatrician at Motherhood Hospitals, Sarjapur, Bangalore says a child will fall off many times. While some injuries can be mild, others can put the baby at risk.

“You won’t even realise the moment you divert yourself to some other work, your baby might fall off the bed. If this happens, instead of panicking, take a moment to observe,” the doctor says.

What to do after a fall

According to Dr Balakrishnan, it is hard for parents to notice if the baby has suffered from an injury or pain. “Remaining calm throughout the process is the best thing you can do. Immediately after the fall and a cry, try not to panic. Look for a few obvious signs of head trauma and serious injuries.”

– Losing consciousness
– Vomiting
– Swelling, bruises or lumps on the head
– Blood coming out of nose or ears
– Bleeding

“If you notice any of these changes, you must contact your baby’s doctor. Also, do not pick up your child and try to comfort them, as movement can harm the baby. There is a possibility that the child might have also injured their back or neck. After the fall, if your baby has a seizure, consider it an emergency as well. Turn them on their side and keep their neck straight to comfort them,” she explains.

The doctor adds that if you do not notice any of these signs, pick your baby up and comfort them. “If your child is crying, it does not mean there has to be an injury. Babies get startled when they are scared. It is normal for them to cry. Once they have calmed, look for bruising or any minor injuries. Make sure you contact your doctor even if injuries seem minor.”

Keep in mind

You can monitor the baby for the next 24 hours, as a few changes may not appear immediately. If within 24 hours, the baby does not show unusual behaviours or any signs of head trauma, they are less likely to suffer from a serious injury.

When to take the baby to the ER

A few signs and symptoms are indicative of serious injuries, for which you must take the baby to ER:

* Excessive sleepy
* High-pitched crying
* Signs of a broken bone
* Skull fracture
* Pupils are not the same size
* Sensitivity to light and sound
* Vomiting
* Soft spot bulging in front of the head
* Inconsolable baby

“If there are no immediate signs of an injury, your baby could suffer from a concussion, a brain injury that causes temporary loss of normal brain functioning,” says Dr Balakrishnan.

Watch for the following changes:

1. Irritability
2. Change in sleeping patterns (more sleep)
3. Excessive crying
4. Crying in a particular position
5. Inconsolable

What parents can do

Prevent falls by making sure your baby does not sleep on an adult bed without supervision. You can place some bouncy seats on the floor to prevent injuries. Also, do not leave them alone.

A baby is more likely to sleep after a fall, with or without any reason. Make sure you keep waking them every few hours to monitor them, the doctor concludes.

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