As your baby crawls, cruises, and walks toward toddlerhood, you can expect to start seeing more bumps and bruises. You can minimize this by thoroughly babyproofing your house, but no matter how safe your home, it seems growing children still find ways to bang themselves up. When is it OK to treat something yourself, and when is it time to call the doctor?
Minor cuts. Small cuts or scrapes (the kind that might bleed for only a few seconds before stopping) are treated much like you would in older children. Washing them gently with warm, soapy water is the most important part in preventing an infection from developing. If possible, keeping the minor cut covered to avoid dirt is nice, but be cautious with the use of bandages because they can become choking hazards.
Bruises. Minor bruises on the shins or forehead are common as babies learn to stand, cruise, and walk. Often the bruise does not develop until the day after the fall. Small bruises are nothing to worry about and no special treatment is needed. A large bruise or one that appears to cause pain or swelling should be evaluated by a physician.
Mouth injuries. Older babies are still head heavy, meaning their heads are relatively large and heavy for their body size. So when they fall, they often wind up with mouth injuries. While most bumps to the gums, teeth, or lips are not serious, they can often bleed quite a bit. When bleeding is noted from the mouth area, first calm your child down. Once calm, gently look under the lips (upper and lower) and examine the tongue and teeth to see where the bleeding is coming from. If the injury to the lip is small and the bleeding stops quickly, nothing is necessary. Cool compresses and a pain reducer can be helpful. If you have concerns, then it’s always a good idea to have a medical professional evaluate the injury. If a tooth is knocked out, do not attempt to put it back in. Use a cold compress to help stop the bleeding and keep your child calm. You will need to see a pediatric dentist to determine if there was any damage to the surrounding teeth and mouth.
Large cuts that are bleeding need to be evaluated by a doctor. Hold firm but gentle pressure to the area as you transport your child. Only transport your child yourself if you are able to place him or her in the car seat. Keep your child as calm and relaxed as possible.
Many small cuts can now be closed with a “glue,” or a medical product that glues the edges of skin together. Larger cuts or ones on parts of the body that are subject to tension will require sutures. Call your pediatrician and ask if you should be seen in the office or if you should go to the emergency room. Some towns now have pediatric urgent care clinics, which are capable of placing stitches and are less expensive (and time-consuming) than a visit to the ER.