Learn first aid for a baby or child who has a head injury

A blow to the head may result in the baby or child having pain or a headache. There may be a bump on their head and they may look pale.

1. Ask the child to rest and apply something cold to the injury: for example, frozen vegetables wrapped in a tea towel.

Applying something cold to the injury for up to 20 minutes will reduce external swelling and pain. When a person has a blow to the head, their brain can be shaken inside the skull as well. This may cause a more serious head injury which may make them feel sick or drowsy.  

2.  Call 999 if they become drowsy, repeatedly vomit or their condition gets worse.

This could be a sign of a serious injury to the head. If you can’t call 999, get someone else to do it.

3. Make sure someone responsible is able to look after them.

If the injury has happened when playing sports, they must not return to sport until they have been seen by a medical professional.  

Some people should always seek medical advice after a head injury because they are at greater risk. See the FAQ’s for more detail. 

Watch how to help a baby or child who has a head injury (1 minute 13 seconds)

Common questions about first aid for a baby or child who has a head injury

What can I apply to the injury to reduce swelling and pain?


What is concussion?


What are the signs and symptoms of concussion?


Should I watch a baby or child who has a head injury to see if they have concussion?


Are there any other reasons I might need to call 999 after a head injury?


What if the baby or child becomes unresponsive as the result of a head injury?


What should I do if the head injury is bleeding heavily?


Can I let my baby or child go to sleep after a head injury?


Should I call 999 every time my baby or child bumps their head?


 

What can I apply to the injury to reduce swelling and pain?

You could wrap a towel or clothing around frozen vegetables or ice and apply it to the injury.

Never place ice directly on the skin, as it’s too cold.

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What is concussion?

Concussion happens when the brain is shaken inside the skull because of a blow to the head.  

A baby or child with concussion may be unresponsive for a few seconds to a few minutes. Most people make a full recovery from concussion, but occasionally it becomes more serious.  

Seek medical help if you think they have concussion.  

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What are the signs and symptoms of concussion?

A child may have concussion if they:

  • are temporarily unresponsive
  • are dizzy
  • have a headache
  • are confused
  • feel sick
  • have blurred vision
  • loss of memory of what happened immediately before or during the head injury

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Should I watch a person who has a head injury to see if they have concussion?

Yes, you should watch anyone who has had a head injury for the signs of concussion. Sometimes you may not see the signs immediately. Call 999 if you suspect they have concussion.

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How do I know whether to call 999 after a head injury?

 Call 999 if:   

  • They become less responsive or unresponsive  
  • They have numbness or weakness in any part of their body  
  • They have clear fluid or blood coming from their ears or nose  
  • They have a seizure  
  • They have been in a serious accident or had a severe blow to the head  

They should also seek medical advice if:  

  • They have had a previous brain injury  
  • They are taking medicines to thin their blood  
  • They are known or suspected to have been drinking alcohol or taken drugs
  • There is no one to look after them  
  • You should also seek medical advice if you are unsure how bad the injury is but think it could be serious.

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Back to questions

 

Should I watch a baby or child who has a head injury to see if they have concussion?

Yes, you should watch anyone who has had a head injury for the signs of concussion. Sometimes you may not see the signs immediately. Call 999 if you suspect they have concussion.

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Are there any other reasons I might need to call 999 after a head injury?

Call 999 if they vomit, become unresponsive or show other signs of a serious head injury.

You should also seek medical advice if you are unsure how bad the injury is but think it could be serious.

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What if the baby or child becomes unresponsive as a result of a head injury?

Find out:

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What should I do if the head injury is bleeding heavily?

Apply pressure to the wound to stop or slow down the flow of blood and call 999.

Find out more about how to help a baby or child who is bleeding heavily.

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Can I let my baby or child go to sleep after a head injury?

Yes, you can let them sleep if it is their normal time to sleep and they are not showing signs of a serious head injury.

If they seem unusually drowsy, they may have a serious head injury and you should seek urgent medical attention.

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Should I call 999 every time my baby or child bumps their head?

No, you should call 999 if they show signs of a serious head injury. You should also seek medical advice if you are not sure of the severity of the injury.

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Email us if you have any other questions about first aid for a baby or child who has a head injury.