Infants, toddlers, and young children are not immune to brain injuries. Concussions can be especially dangerous for young children because they may not be able to let others know how they are feeling.
Below is information on the common symptoms of concussion in babies, signs of brain injury in toddlers, what to do if your child has hit their head, when to go to the emergency room, and treatment advice.
Things to Look For If Your Baby, Toddler, or Child Hit Their Head
Concussion symptoms in children may include:
- Listlessness and tiring easily
- Irritability or crankiness
- Change in eating or sleeping patterns
- Change in the way they play
- Change in the way they perform or act at school
- Lack of interest in favorite toys
- Loss of new skills, such as toilet training
- Loss of balance, such as unsteady walking
- Confusion, distraction, or if your child is easily distracted and cannot do normal activities
- Staring blankly
- Delayed answering of questions
- Slurred speech
- Stumbling or clumsiness, uncoordinated or cannot walk a straight line
- Exhibiting extreme emotions, such as crying very easily or angering easily
- Problem with memory
- Inability to recall words or objects
- Repeatedly asking the same questions
- Loss of consciousness
Additional signs of concussions in infants & babies:
- Any of the signs and symptoms listed above
- Will not stop crying and cannot be consoled
- Will not nurse or eat
Concussion Signs That Require Immediate Medical Attention
If your infant or toddler exhibits any of these signs, call the doctor or EMT immediately:
- A severe headache that will not go away
- Inability to wake up or extreme sleepiness
- Repeated vomiting
- Personality change
- Loss of coordination
- Weakness in arms or legs
- Ringing in ears
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights
When in doubt, it's always better to seek the advice of an experienced medical professional who understands traumatic brain injury. Our article on when to go to the hospital gives good advice for when it's appropriate to seek medical advice.
What to Do If You Suspect Your Baby or Toddler Has a Concussion
If your infant or young child exhibits any of the severe symptoms of a brain injury listed above, seek immediate medical help.
But what if you’re not sure if your child is exhibiting signs of a concussion? Two questions parents often ask are: Should you let your baby sleep after hitting its head? How long do you need to keep them awake if you suspect a concussion?
- Call your doctor or medical provider
- Rest is the best medicine, for both body and mind
- Refrain from physical activity and sports
- Avoid any activity that could result in another fall or injury
- Rest the brain, limit or refrain from screen time, including TV, phones, tablets, video games, and/or computers
- Children may experience disturbed sleep, either sleeping more than usual, finding it hard to fall asleep, or sleep through the night. Remove any distractions from the bedroom and encourage regular sleep routines
Learn about how to formally diagnose traumatic brain injuries in kids.
Treatments for Concussions in Young Children
Parents and caretakers of children who have had a concussion can help them heal by:
- Following the doctor’s instructions carefully
- Making sure your child gets plenty of rest.
- Avoiding activities that could result in a second blow or jolt to the head, until cleared by the doctor.
- Giving your child only those drugs that the doctor has approved
- Talking with the doctor about when your child should return to school and other activities and how to deal with the challenges your child may face.
- Sharing information about the concussion with teachers, counselors, babysitters, coaches, and others who interact with your child so they can understand what has happened and help meet your child’s needs.
Learn more about caring for your child after a concussion.