If your baby has a fall

Now your baby is on the move, they may find themselves having a fall, perhaps on the stairs or from a piece of furniture. It can be very scary to find your baby has fallen. Read the advice below to find out what you should do.

Watch our video - If your baby had a fall

Baby primary survey

If you find your baby has fallen, assess their injuries using the primary survey. Remember the steps using DR ABC – Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing, Circulation.

1. Danger: if there is a danger in the area (eg. broken glass), make sure that it is safe for you to approach without injuring yourself.

2. Response: See if your baby reacts to you by calling their name or gently tapping or flicking the sole of their foot. If they do not respond to you, they may be unresponsive – it’s important to open their airway. If your baby is awake, alert, and breathing normally move on to checking them for other injuries (circulation).

3. Airway: if your baby is not responsive, open their airway. Place a hand on the baby’s forehead and gently tilt the head back and lift the chin with your fingertip to open the airway.

4. Breathing: check to see if they are breathing normally – look for chest movement, listen for sounds and try to feel their breath on your cheek.

  • If they are not breathing normally: keep the airway open and pick out any visible obstructions from their mouth, but take care not to push anything further into the throat. Start baby CPR.
  • If they are breathing normally: your priority is to maintain their airway before checking for any other injuries. Do not move them unless they are in danger or they stop breathing normally. Hold your baby in the recovery position by cradling them in your arms with the head tilted downwards. This will protect their airway. While holding them in the recovery position, check them over for other injuries. Take the baby with you while you call for emergency help.

5. Circulation: if they are breathing normally, check their circulation. Run your hands down their body and check for any bleeds or other injuries. If your baby has a bleed or any other injury, such as a head injury or broken bone, treat for this now (Secondary Survey).

6. If your baby has a serious injury or becomes unresponsive, call 999/112 for help, keep checking their breathing and prepare to do CPR if they stop breathing normally.

If you think your baby has broken their arm (closed fracture):

Bones that are still growing are supple but may split, bend or crack. If your baby has had a severe injury to their arm, looks in pain, has difficulty moving the limb, with deformity, swelling or bruising, they may have a broken bone.

1. Try to keep your baby still. Do not move them unless they are in danger, until the limb is secure. Support the joints above and below the injured area with your hands if appropriate.

2. Call 999/112 for help. You may place padding around the injury for extra support.

3. Treat them for shock if necessary.

4. Keep checking their breathing and whether they can respond to you.

If your baby has a head injury:

1. If the injury is minor or just a bump and they are still alert, sit them on your lap and try to hold something cold, like frozen peas wrapped in a cloth, against the injury.

2. If you are worried that the injury may be more than a simple knock to the head, especially if there is an open wound or deep bruising or they are not acting normally, seek medical help.

3. Take your baby to hospital or call 999/112 if your baby:

  • • has fallen downstairs
  • • had a heavy blow to the head
  • • was knocked unresponsive
  • • is unusually drowsy following the injury
  • • has had a fit (seizure)
  • • keeps vomiting
  • • has fluid draining from their ears or nose

These may indicate that a severe injury may have occurred and your baby needs to be assessed by a healthcare professional.

4. While you’re waiting for help to arrive, keep checking your baby and whether they respond to you. If they become unresponsive and stop breathing normally then follow the steps for baby CPR.

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