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If your child hits his head as a result of a major collision or a fall from any serious distance — he rolls off the changing table or falls down the stairs, for example, it's best to err on the side of caution and get help. Call the doctor, especially if your child is less than 1 year old. A doctor will advise you about what to do.
The doctor will want to know the details of the accident and whether your child lost consciousness, is excessively irritable or crying, or is vomiting or lethargic. She may tell you to bring him to the office or to the emergency room.
Call 911 or take your child to the emergency room if you see any of these symptoms:
- Change in color
- Difficulty breathing
- Unusual drowsiness
- Pupils of unequal size
- Difficulty with coordination
Even if your child has had a little bump and doesn't need to see a doctor right away, keep an eye on him for a few days. There's no need to prevent him from sleeping, and a restorative nap after an emotional trauma like a scary fall can be comforting. But his doctor might recommend waking him up every two to three hours to make sure he responds normally.
If he's alert when you wake him up (well, as alert as a child who's been awakened can be), then it's unlikely that the fall has caused any evolving problems, like bleeding in the brain.
If he seems overly groggy or lethargic, or if you're worried for any reason, trust your instincts and call the doctor for advice. She may want to give him a quick checkup.
If at any point you're unable to wake your child, call 911 or take him to the emergency room.