Head Injuries

Children are very active and have poor judgment when it comes to danger. Up to age 8 years their heads are large in proportion to their bodies, so when they fall their head acts like a missile and takes the brunt of the knock.

Most children will cry immediately after a head injury which is a normal reaction but if your child exhibits any of the following signs or symptoms stay with your child and dial 000.

The following are guidelines only as to when you should seek medical attention:

  • Babies and young children who hit their head from a height of approximately 1m onto a hard floor
  • Stops breathing -CPR should be commenced on a child while waiting for an ambulance
  • An unconscious child -Place your child in the recovery position. Jaw thrust maneuver should be performed to maintain a clear airway
  • Altered loss of consciousness - Monitor breathing
  • Has a seizure – Roll onto side and time seizure
  • Cries immediately after the head knock but becomes drowsy and/or irritable
  • Feels nauseous or has had more than 2 vomits or persistent vomiting
  • Complains of blurred or double vision
  • Loss of co-ordination in arms or legs – walks with unsteady gait
  • Becomes increasingly drowsy and lethargic
  • Complains of severe headache
  • Becomes irritable and difficult to console

Scalp Lacerations

Scalp lacerations are very common when a child sustains a head injury due to the rich blood supply to the scalp.
If your child has a laceration to the scalp

  • Do not panic
  • Apply firm pressure for approximately 5 minutes and avoid peeping
  • If the scalp continues to bleed after 5 minutes apply pressure for 10 minutes
  • Once the bleeding has stopped seek medical attention
  • Once the bleeding is under control your child can be seen at your family doctor, emergency centre or hospital.

Bumps and swelling on the head

Young babies who develop swelling or bruising on their heads after a fall or head knock need to be seen promptly in hospital due to the fragility of their skull bone.
A covered cold pack may be applied to an older child’s head if a bruise develops as long as there is no change in their behavior and have none of the above signs and symptoms already listed.
NB. If your child is not breathing after a head injury, CPR takes priority over all injuries and bleeding.


This information has being prepared by Laura Mulcahy for First Aid Demonstrations and has being gained through current journals, conferences, workshops, study days and Paediatric Best Practice Treatments and Guidelines from various Paediatric Hospitals throughout Australia. This information should be used as a guideline only. Please speak to your Health Care Professional if you have concerns about your child’s condition.

Fact Sheets

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Febrile Convulsions


Head Injuries


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