As a parent or caregiver to a little one, you’ve got a lot going on, and baby is likely wiggling and moving around often.
Although your baby may be small, kicking legs and flailing arms can bring several hazards, including the risk of falling to the floor after you’ve placed them on your bed.
While prevention is truly the best way to avoid falls, accidents can and do happen.
We know it can be scary when your baby falls off the bed! Here’s how you can handle the situation.
First, don’t panic. If there are signs of distress, trying to remain calm will make them easier to address. It’s possible the fall could cause your baby to lose consciousness.
They may appear limp or sleeping, then usually resume consciousness rather quickly. Regardless, this is a medical emergency. If your baby appears to have a serious head injury, such as visible signs of bleeding or unconsciousness, call 911 or local emergency services immediately.
If you see bleeding, apply pressure gently with gauze or a clean towel or cloth until help arrives.
If your baby doesn’t appear severely injured, gently pick them up and comfort them. They’ll likely be scared and alarmed. While comforting, look at their head to inspect for visible signs of injury.
You should call your doctor after any fall from a bed if your baby is under 1 year old.
If you don’t immediately see any signs of injury, put your child at ease. Once your baby has calmed, you’ll also want to inspect their body for any injuries or bruising.
Even if your baby didn’t lose consciousness or appear to have a severe injury, there are still signs that can require a trip to the emergency room. These include:
- being inconsolable
- bulging of the soft spot in the front of the head
- continually rubbing their head
- excessively sleepy
- has bloody or yellow fluid coming from the nose or ears
- high-pitched cry
- changes in balance or coordination
- pupils that aren’t the same size
- sensitivity to light or noise
If you notice these changes, seek emergency attention as quickly as possible.
If you notice any symptoms that your baby is acting out of the ordinary — or you just feel as if something isn’t right — seek immediate medical attention. It’s definitely better to be safe than sorry in this instance.
That said, while it is important to observe your baby and consult their doctor as needed, keep in mind most babies don’t sustain significant injury or head trauma from falling off the bed.
Even if your baby doesn’t show immediate or concerning signs of injury, it’s possible (but uncommon) that they could have a concussion that doesn’t show immediate symptoms.
A concussion is a brain injury that can affect your baby’s thinking. Because your baby can’t tell you what they’re feeling, recognizing concussion symptoms can be difficult.
The first thing to look for is a regression of developmental skills. For example, a 6-month-old baby may not babble.
Other changes to watch for include:
- being fussy when eating
- changes in sleep patterns
- crying more in a particular position than other positions
- crying more than usual
- increasingly irritable
A concussion isn’t the only injury that can occur after falling. Internal injuries can include:
- tearing blood vessels
- broken skull bones
- damage to the brain
It bears repeating that concussions and internal injuries are not common in babies after a fall from a bed. And remember, it’s not unusual for babies to have changes in sleep patterns or fussy moments as they move through developmental milestones!
So use your best judgement, and check in with your pediatrician if you have any concerns.
After any fall, your child will likely act sleepy. You may want to ask their doctor if you should wake your baby up at regular intervals to check for concussion symptoms.
Your baby may be more irritable, have a shorter attention span, or vomit. Head and neck pain can also occur.
However, if your little one is breathing and acting normally, letting your child rest can be beneficial. If they’re difficult to wake or can’t be fully woken at a normal interval, call their healthcare provider.
You can ask your child’s doctor if you should give your child pain medication and in what dose.
Your child’s doctor will also likely advise against rough or vigorous play to reduce the risk for further injuries for at least a 24-hour period. This includes avoiding riding toys or climbing.
Adult-supervised play can include:
- going on stroller rides
- listening to a story
If your child goes to day care, inform the personnel of the fall and need for closer supervision.
Babies shouldn’t be placed on adult beds unsupervised. In addition to risks of falls, babies can become trapped between the bed and wall or bed and another object. Adult beds don’t meet the criteria for safe sleeping that a crib often has, such as a tight-fitting mattress and bottom sheet.
To prevent falling, always keep at least one hand on a baby on any surface, such as a changing table or adult bed. Don’t put your baby in a car seat or bouncer on a table or other elevated surface, even if they’re strapped in.
It can be scary when your baby falls from a bed. While such falls can result in significant injury, it’s uncommon. If your baby appears uninjured and is acting normally after a fall from a bed, it’s likely they’re A-OK.
If you have any concerns, call your doctor and ask what symptoms you might watch for and for how long.
In the meantime, remember squirmy and rolling babies can move fast. Keep an eye on your little one and remain within arm’s reach whenever they’re on a bed.