The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hurt. Of course it's never a fun thing to think about, but there are actually quite a few red flags to look out for after your baby falls that shouldn't be ignored. Nine out of the 10 times I call my son's pediatrician about a bad spill, it turns out to not be as bad as I thought. But it's still a good idea to keep these warning signs in mind to rule out any potential health and safety issues.
Arming yourself with knowledge and ways to spot potential danger is a great first step towards a bit of parenting peace of mind. Though I tend to abide by the, "better safe than sorry," school of thinking, learning about these kinds of red flags does help me to keep my worries in check. Since spills and tumbles are inevitable with every baby — no matter how "good" of a parent you are — check out these red flags to be aware of when your baby falls.
1. Unusual Eye Movement
Though most babies aren't known for their long attention spans, you should pay attention if they seem too distracted. "A few red flags to look for are uncontrolled crying and uncontrolled eye movement," Stacy M. Menz, a Board Certified Pediatric Clinical Specialist, tells Romper. So if your baby's eyes are darting around the room or they're excessively crying, there could be neurological damage from their fall.
2. Immovable Extremities
A red flag that indicates a broken bone is, "an inability — or unwillingness — to move the limb," according to the site What To Expect. However, "a child may still have a fracture even if they can move the area," the aforementioned article further noted. Don't be too quick to disregard your little one if they seem uncooperative or uninterested in crawling or moving their arms and legs.
3. Mismatched Pupils
There's a good reason medical professionals always check patients' eyes with a flashlight: their pupils play a role. "A sign you should go to the emergency room is [if] pupils aren't the same size," according to Heathline, since this could indicate a possible brain injury. Even a slight difference should be taken seriously.
After a fall, if your baby loses consciousness or becomes unresponsive at any point, you should consider this a major red flag, as Parents reported. To play it safe, you might even consider calling for medical transportation in case your baby's fall resulted in a head, neck, or spinal injury. In general, it's a good rule of thumb that any time your child blacks out, you should immediately contact a doctor.
According to Baby Center, persistent vomiting can be a sign of a concussion after a fall. The article further explained that this can occur with or without the presence of a fever. So regardless of whether or not your baby has any external problems, continuous vomiting should not be ignored an addressed by a professional.
6. Any Kind Of Fluid Discharge
This may be gross, but if your child loses any of their bodily fluids, that is a definite red flag to look for after your baby falls. "Bleeding or discharge from any external orifices," is a warning sign of possible trauma, pediatrician Dr. Faisal Abdul Karim Malim tells Romper via an email interview. So whether it's clear drainage from the nose or ears, bleeding, or any other kind of loss of liquid, contact a doctor.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.