It’s a pretty safe bet to say that every baby and/or toddler falls at least once within the first few years of life. It’s likely also a safe bet to say that most fall much more than once.
When my first child (my son) began standing, he fell occasionally. Once, he fell into the leg of our kitchen table and cut his upper lip. Once he even managed to wriggle to standing in his high chair at the age of two and fell out of it…in a matter of seconds. My daughter once fell and hit the front of her face on our couch, actually biting through part of her upper lip. Am I a bad parent? No, I’m not. In fact, most people would tell you I’m overprotective. But falls happen. They happen fast. Not just when you aren’t paying attention, but when you are, but have turned around to grab the phone, have opened the refrigerator to take out something for dinner, have reached down to pick up the last few pieces of Cheerios your child dropped.
If you’re like me, you’ve heard, “Oh, did he take a tumble?” more than once, as someone casually brushes off your baby’s fall. As a first time parent, this was especially hard for me. I took falls seriously, especially because my baby couldn’t tell me when it hurt, how bad it hurt, and if he needed medical attention.
One day, when my son was 19 months old, he fell while at a party. The floor that he fell on was made of hard, terra cotta tile. He cried. I held him. Others tried to get him up and running again, brushing off his fall with ease and encouraging me not to make too much of it. Then later that day, I noticed my son’s head jerk to the side. It did this out of the blue. Immediately my stomach sank. It happened a few more times that day and I mentioned it both to my husband and my mother. My mom assured me that he was fine and that I shouldn’t worry. I knew better.
Over the next few months, my son endured two hospitalizations and many, many tests. The head jerks continued and arm jerks also began occurring. The doctors thought he might have epilepsy, or even Tourettes Syndrome. But he was young and Tourettes is usually diagnosed later. What we came to find out was that my son was having Transient Tics. That is, involuntary jerks that would go away without permanent damage. Though tests were inconclusive, the tics were likely caused by his fall.
Falls can be serious. They are the leading cause of injury for children in this country. This article is not meant to scare you, it’s meant to inform you, to urge you to do two things:
1.Realize that, yes, all children fall. But not all falls are merely “a tumble.” They should be taken seriously. When in doubt, take your child to the doctor.
2.Trust your instincts when your child falls. If something looks off, it probably is.
My son is a happy, healthy five-year-old now and I thank God every day that nothing more serious came of his fall. You can’t prevent all falls. But you can listen to that little voice that tells you when you need to be concerned and when you don’t. I believe in Mother’s intuition. It has gotten me through many fevers and illnesses with my children. I hope you’ll trust your own.