Your baby falling off the bed is a scary event for all parents. Here is what you should do in this case, along with tips to prevent it from happening.
As a parent, you try everything you can to give your baby a healthy, safe and secure upbringing. Yet, parents are human too, and it can be impossible to prevent every single fall, scratch or scrape. In fact, I don’t think there’s a single parent out there who hasn’t experienced the traumatic incident of their baby falling off the bed.
While that is certainly scary, most of the time, a baby falling off the bed is nothing to worry about, and most babies are resilient enough to withstand such a fall. However, it is important to know what to do in such a situation, as well as how to prevent such accidents in the future.
Baby Falling Off the Bed: First Aid & Baby Safety
As mentioned earlier, a baby falling off the bed is quite common and in most cases, is not dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are among the leading causes of non-fatal injuries in babies and children. Falls are more common among babies older than 4 months, as they begin to roll over.
The reason could be that babies have quite resilient skulls. The fontanel, the soft spot on the head, is open in the early months, which means it allows for movement of the bones which can protect the brain during a fall. That said, it is important to treat a fall as a medical emergency and perform the required first aid.
First aid for baby falling off the bed
The very first thing to do is not to panic. Being in a panicky state will only make your baby more stressed. Stay calm so you can follow the steps for first aid properly.
It is natural to want to pick up your baby immediately, but this is not advised. In the rare case that your baby does have an injury, picking him up right away can make it worse.
Instead, first check if your baby is conscious and if there are any visible injuries. Remember that if your baby fell against glass or sharp edges, she is more likely to have an injury. Check if she is breathing and moving normally.
If your baby seems to be fine besides being alarmed by the fall, you can gently pick her up and hold her close. Your baby is sure to be frightened and may cry loudly even if they’re not hurt – this is normal. Use this opportunity to check for any other injuries, cuts or bruises.
One possible impact of falling can be a bump on the head, which is usually just superficial and will go away in a short while. You can ease the pain by applying a cold compress on the bump, like a cloth soaked in cool water. You can also use a pack of frozen peas wrapped in a cloth and applied to the bump. If your baby still seems to be in pain, you can give her some baby-friendly painkiller in the appropriate dose – ask your doctor first and never give babies aspirin.
Console your baby by walking around with her or nursing her. You can also try to distract her by handing her a toy or reading a book together – most babies will forget about the fall and go back to playing soon enough. However, it is important to keep an eye on your little one for the next 24 hours, so you can catch anything that seems abnormal.
Another thing you may notice after your baby falling off the bed is cognitive fatigue – minor behavior changes and irritability for some days following the fall. This is usually nothing to worry about and goes away on its own. In any case, avoid vigorous activity and play for at least 24 hours after the fall. If your child goes to daycare or preschool, let the caretakers know so they can also keep an eye on your baby.
When to call the ER
If you notice any of these symptoms after your baby falls, rush to the emergency room right away:
- Loss of consciousness
- Any kind of bleeding
- Fluid leaking out of the nose or ears
- Vomiting more than once
- Dizziness or slurring in speech
- Difficulty breathing
- Bulging of the fontanel (soft spot on the head)
- Signs of broken bones
- Eye pupils being of different sizes
- Excessive sleepiness
- Continuous rubbing of the head
- Too much sensitivity to light or noise
- Excessive high-pitched crying
- Inability to be comforted
- Any change in co-ordination or balance
- Any fall from a height of more than 3 feet or 5 stairs
Besides these signs, if you feel like something about your child simply isn’t right, don’t hesitate to go to the doctor straight away. It’s always best to be safe rather than sorry.
After calling the emergency room and while you’re waiting for the ambulance, do these first aid steps:
- Don’t move your baby – they may have injured the neck or spine, and moving them can worsen the injury
- If there is bleeding, apply gentle pressure on the area with a clean towel or cloth
- In case of a seizure or vomiting, turn the child on the side, taking care to keep the neck straight
- In case your child is having trouble breathing, administer CPR – infant CPR for children under 12 months and regular CPR for older children
Possible injuries due to baby falling off the bed
The most likely serious injury from falling off the bed is a head injury. Babies usually fall forward, which means the front part of the skull is most prone to injury, followed by the back of the head. These parts of the skull are usually thicker, but the sides of the head are thinner, which makes these areas more vulnerable to injury. The most common serious head injuries are skull fractures, brain damage or concussions.
Concussions usually show delayed symptoms, which is why it’s important for parents to watch out for them. A concussion generally appears as a regressing of developmental skills and signs like these:
- Change in sleep patterns
- More than usual crying
- Crying in certain positions
- Increased irritability
- Appearing dazed
- Balance or orientation problems
- Weakness in limbs
- Unusual eye movements
- Mood or behavioral changes
- Increased sleepiness
Please remember that babies are bound to have changes in sleep, balance and mood as part of normal development, and not all changes mean that your child has a concussion. Besides concussions, a fall may also result in fractures, which may have these signs:
- A deformity or abnormal shape of an arm or leg
- Swelling in any part of the body
- Trouble moving any limb
- Pain when moving certain parts of the body
- Difficulty in bearing weight on any part of the body
How to prevent baby falling off the bed
- Never leave your baby on any high surface unsupervised – beds, sofas, chairs, changing tables etc.
- If you need to move around when your baby is on a surface, keep one hand on the baby at all times
- Always strap the baby in whatever gear she is placed in, like high chairs, carriers, swings and strollers
- Never leave car seats or baby carriers on high surfaces like tables
- When buying things like high chairs, make sure they are strong and stable enough to hold baby’s weight
- Keep baby’s crib, chair and other furniture away from windows
- Install safety gates at the bottom and top of stairs
- Never let children play on balconies, decks or stairs
- Once your child can stand up, lower the mattress of the crib
- A child’s bed should be lower than 120 cm, and the gap between the railings should be less than 6 cm
- As soon as possible, teach your child to climb down the bed safely, sliding off the bed on the tummy
- Place a soft carpet on the floor to minimize injuries in case of a fall
- Keep the floor free from anything that can trip your baby can cause her to fall
- Let baby enjoy play time and tummy time on the floor instead of on the bed
- Avoid wheeled baby walkers that can be dangerous
Always remember that your baby may try to roll over the very first time when you’re not looking, so you can never lower your guard. Even babies who aren’t ready to roll over may squirm and kick, which can also lead to a fall. Always make sure your baby is supervised by a responsible adult and you can prevent falls and help your baby grow strong, healthy and happy!