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Baby and Child First Aid

Questions and answers about first aid for babies and children: broken bone

Here are some questions people often ask. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please feel free to email us at firstaid@redcross.org.uk or use this form.

Q

How can I tell if my baby or child has a broken bone?

Answer
Answer

The baby or child may have pain, bruising or swelling. They may also be lying in an unnatural position. In severe cases, their limb may be misshapen.

As babies’ and children’s bones are still growing, they are supple and may bend or split. It can often be difficult to tell if a baby or child has a broken bone without having an x-ray, so if you are unsure always seek medical advice.

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Q

How do I support a broken bone?

Answer
Answer

Do not move it unnecessarily. If you can, place soft padding (like clothing and blankets) around the limb to align it, but do not force it. If they are able to, the child could support the injury themselves by holding it. Continue to support it until help arrives.

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Q

What should I do if a baby or child won’t let me support the injury?

Answer
Answer

Try and encourage them to support the injury themselves by holding it, or help them place it on cushions or padding.

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Q

If a bone is dislocated, should I put it back in place?

Answer
Answer

No, if there is a dislocation or the limb is misshaped, the baby or child will have this dealt with at hospital. Never attempt to put dislocations back in place as you may cause further damage.

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Q

My baby or child can move their limb or stand on it. Does this mean they probably haven't got a broken bone?

Answer
Answer

Not necessarily. The baby or child may still have a broken bone, even if they can move their limb. If the injury causes pain or discomfort and symptoms do not improve, seek medical advice.

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Q

What if everything looks normal and they only have a bruise?

Answer
Answer

It can often be difficult to tell if a baby or child has  a broken bone or a sprain or strain without an X-ray. If you are in any doubt about the severity of the injury, seek medical advice.

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