Toddler First Aid: Bumps & bruises

How to treat bumps and bruises at home and when you need to see a doctor

Most of your toddler’s bumps will require no more than a magic mummy / daddy kiss or a quick cuddle to make them better, but you’ll quickly be able to tell by: the noise of the bang, the reaction of your child and the colour of the area affected, which are the more serious ouches.


The first thing to do is to calm your child with lots of affection and perhaps a couple of distraction techniques. If it looks like the bump may swell then use a cold compress (soaking the cloth with witch hazel can help reduce swelling) or ice pack (but don’t put ice directly onto the skin) to cool the area for at least a few minutes, and again at intervals throughout the day.

Many toddlers aren’t overly keen to have something cold and wet held against their bang, and if reluctance is making things difficult then look for a distraction this could be singing a special ‘ouch’ song, reading a special ‘ouch’ book, counting together to a certain number (repeatedly) while you hold on the compress, using a compress or cool-pack that appeals to your child, or whatever else works with your own toddler.

A bruise appears where the blood vessels near the surface of the skin are broken, and blood escapes into the skin, turning the area blue-black or purple and later yellow as the bruising heals. You can’t make a bruise disappear, but you may be able to help it heal faster by using a cold-compress or ice pack, as above, and treating the area with witch hazel or arnica.

When to go to the doctor
If your toddler has a nasty bang to the head then you need to be cautious about a potential concussion, skull fractures and internal injuries. If your child is nauseous, vomits or behaves oddly in the 48-hours after the accident then you should take her to the doctor right away. If there is any bruising behind the ear, or you are at all concerned that there may be a fracture then take her to the doctor to be checked over.

If your toddler’s pain lingers on over a day or two, if is she appears to have difficulty moving a joint or limb, if the bruise doesn’t fade within a couple of weeks, or if she shows any signs of infection then you should take her to the doctor.


Some toddlers and children bruise more easily than others and fair-skinned children show bruises more readily than most. However, if you think your child bruises very easily, seems to bruise without cause, or has other unexplained bleeding then it’s also best to have her checked out by the doctor.

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