Toddler Emergencies: Are You Equipped to Handle Them?

Toddler Emergencies: Are You Equipped to Handle Them?

How long does it take for a toddler to get into trouble? As many seconds as it takes to blink an eye. All you need to do is look away for just a bit or step away for the smallest errand and your baby manages to fall or get his/her hands on the most dangerous object, right?

Well, mischief comes naturally to curious toddlers; so falls, burns, bumps and cuts are inevitable on their growth timeline. But as parents, it's important to know what to do when their mischief ends up in an accident or an emergency. So here's a comprehensive guide to  handling your toddlers bumps and boo boos as shared by Dr Kusum Shenoi, General Practitioner, Navi Mumbai.



Falls are second nature to toddlers as they put their newly acquired skills of walking and running to full use. Small falls are usually not serious, but if your little one has fallen from a height, against a sharp surface or has cut himself and is bleeding, it could require more attention.



When your toddler falls you must...

  • First calm your child down and reassure her/him
  • Check the site of the injury minutely for any bumps, cuts or bruises
  • Observe if s/he acts normal, is conscious and responsive.
  • In case there is a bump, apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the area with medium pressure
  • Incase of a cut, stem the bleeding using a clean cloth or a tissue with pressure until the bleeding stops. Then cover with sterile bandage.
  • If your child falls on the mouth and cuts his gums or tongue, rinse out your child's mouth well. Stop the bleeding by pressure with a clean cloth or gauze or some ice wrapped in a cloth.
  • If your toddler vomits, refuses to move his limbs, doesn’t respond or is bleeding profusely, rush her/him to the hospital.

What you should not do:

  • Do not try to feed your toddler water or food immediately after the fall in an attempt to calm her/him down.
  • Toddlers’ bones are soft and usually do not fracture easily. However, if you suspect a fracture, do not forcibly try to move her/his limbs. If possible, tie the affected area in a splint to minimise movement.

Burns and scalds

You never know when a hot mug of tea, an iron or an open flame will attract your curious little one. As they have sensitive skin, toddlers are easily susceptible to burns or scalds. A tiny burn does not warrant a trip to the emergency room, but a burn over a larger area needs immediate attention before the heat does more damage.


If your child burns or scalds hims/herself you must

  • Run cold water over the affected area for a good five-ten minutes.
  • Dab an ice pack wrapped in a thick cloth or towel gently to the affected area. Do not apply ice directly.
  • Cover the wound with a clean cloth to lower the chances of an infection and rush to the doctor.

What you should not do:

  • Avoid applying any creams, honey, milk or oil to the affected area. It will retain the heat instead of cooling the area.
  • If your child’s clothing is stuck to the the area of the burn,do not pull it off.
  • Try not to place a piece of cotton or fuzzy cloth to the wound as it may stick to the wound.

Cuts and grazes

A tiny cut with a little bleeding usually does not  call for an emergency. But if your toddler has a deep cut with profuse bleeding, s/he may require stitches and that too at the earliest.


If your toddler cuts herself/himself...

  • Stop the bleeding with gentle pressure and a clean washcloth or a tissue. Run some cold water if required. Apply antiseptic ointment if you can. Rush to the doctor at once if the bleeding does not stop even after 10 minutes
  • If your toddler refuses to hold the injury still under running water, try dipping the area in a bucket of cold water

What you should not do:

  • Do not attempt to take out any sharp object embedded in your child’s body
  • Do not blow air onto injury site as this may infect it


Electric shocks

Electric wires, sockets and switches attract toddlers like magnets. Their tiny fingers can easily slip into open sockets and the fear of shocks is scary for a parent.


If your toddler experiences a strong electric shock...

  • Switch off all sources of power supply.
    Separate your child from the source of current with an object that does not conduct electricity, such as a wooden stick or rolled up newspapers.
  • Assess your baby and check for breathing. Provide CPR at once and call for help.

What you should not do:

Do not touch your baby with bare or wet hands as you may get electrocuted as well.


We all know that some adventurous toddlers take great fancy in mouthing things they’re not supposed to be mouthing. Dangerous chemicals in substances like phenyl, medicines or alcohol need prompt action if ingested.


If you suspect that your munchkin has consumed something poisonous...

  • Rush him/her to the doctor immediately.
  • Take along the bottle of whatever your child has swallowed for the doctor to assess its contents.

What you should not do:

Do not feed your child water and then try to forcibly make her/him vomit.


Although toddlers’ can swallow bigger chunks of food than they did when they were babies, certain foods or objects could still block their airway. Peanuts, grapes (whole), popcorn, coins, large buttons or bottle caps can choke the kid.  If you suddenly see a toddler gasping for breath and if s/he’s unable to cry or cough, s/he’s probably choking on something.


If you find your child choking...

Hold her/him face down on your thigh and give firm blows between her/his shoulder blades to loosen the object blocking the airway.

Once the object has been removed, carefully turn him over and offer CPR. If you are unable to help your child just rush to the nearest hospital. If the object is small and has been swallowed, inform the doctor.

What you should not do:

Avoid forcing your child to vomit or cough. Do not try to put your fingers in to remove the object.


Most insect bites rarely call for an emergency, but animal bites or an allergic reaction to insect bites do.


In case of a bite...

  • Rush your child to a hospital immediately. Severe allergic reactions require immediate medical attention before they spiral out of control.
  • If it is an animal bite, wash the area with cold water after you stop the bleeding. Cover the site with a sterile gauze before visiting the doctor.

What you should not do:

Do not forcibly rub the bitten area or self-medicate your child.

We know it’s not easy to keep a toddler from getting into trouble, so if your child has an accident, the most important thing to do is not panic. Most emergencies can be acted upon if parents remain calm.


Here are other important points to note:

  • Keep the doctor’s and hospitals’ contact numbers handy
  • Teach your toddler how to be safe to minimise chances of accidents

So when your heart is in your mouth, keep calm and you will be prepared to tackle those emergencies like a pro.


Explore the entire collection of articles: Baby's Health

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