Toddlers are always on the move, curious and exploring. So no matter how much you baby-proof their environment, your little one is destined to get a boo-boo from time to time.
How should I respond?
How you respond depends on your child’s reaction and, of course, the seriousness of the injury. If your child seems fine, don’t dwell on it.
“Paying very little attention to the boo-boo works best to help calm your child rather than focusing on it and further upsetting or scaring him,” said Dr. Raizman. “Most minor owies will be fine without intervention.”
However, if you child is very upset, be sure to offer him comforting cuddles to reassure him that he’s OK. Once he’s calmed down, talk to him about what happened and suggest ways to help soothe the boo-boo, such as “owie” cream or a “magical Band-Aid” to make him feel all better.
Should you use “owie” cream on babies and toddlers?
It’s a good idea to first wash open wounds with soap and water. Then apply an antibiotic ointment cream, such as Neosporin, to reduce the risk of infection. Don’t use rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or iodine on an open wound, though. It could cause more pain and may slow the healing by killing off healthy cells working to heal it.
If it’s a dirty wound, be sure to first remove any gravel, dirt or other pieces of debris. If you can’t remove it or it’s deeply embedded, go to a nearby urgent care or emergency room. Don’t try to remove it on your own because it may cause more bleeding.
What should I do if it’s bleeding?
Wash your hands thoroughly first. Then, place a damp washcloth on the wound, applying slight pressure until the bleeding stops. Once it stops bleeding, wash it well with soap and water.
If the wound is bleeding profusely and it doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure, head to the emergency room.
Should all cuts and scrapes be bandaged?
Small wounds are fine being left open to the air, especially if it’s in a spot where your child can take off the bandage and put it in his mouth.
However, painful or sensitive ones, especially wounds that are bleeding, should be covered with a Band-Aid or other sterile dressing. If it’s in an area where your child can take it off, such as a finger, try wrapping it in gauze to prevent a choking hazard.
“Contrary to what many believe, it’s a good idea to keep the wound clean and moist while it heals,” said Dr. Raizman. “Many studies have shown moist wounds heal better and faster.”
If you notice any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling or oozing, or if the boo-boo is not healing correctly, contact your pediatrician.
When does a cut need stitches?
Stitches should be given within 8 hours of being cut to help prevent infection and scarring. Your child likely needs stitches if the cut is:
- Deep and open, especially if it has jagged edges
- Longer than .5 inches
- On your child’s face to help prevent visible scarring
- In an area that stretches with movement, such as knees and fingers
Contact your pediatrician if you’re unsure whether your child needs stitches, or if he was bitten by an animal or has a deep puncture wound caused by a dirty object.
Are ice packs on bumps necessary?
Though it’s tough to keep an ice pack on an always-on-the-move toddler, it’s best to apply them for 2 to 5 minutes (or as long as you can) off and on for an hour to keep the swelling and pain down.
“Nursing or reading to your child can help distract him from the cold and discomfort,” said Dr. Raizman.
How can I ease the pain?
If you think your child is in pain, it’s fine to give him acetaminophen or ibuprofen (for babies 6 months or older). Just be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle to ensure you administer the correct dosage based on your child’s weight.
Also, use the measuring device that comes with the medication, as opposed to a household utensil, and do not exceed the recommended amount in a 24-hour period.
Can I kiss away the hurt?
If it’s a bump or bruise, it’s safe to make your child’s “hurt” go away with a magical kiss. However, if it’s an open cut or scrape, it’s not a good idea to kiss or blow on it because it can introduce additional germs.
Dr. Raizman suggests using a “magical Band-Aid” to help soothe your child’s boo-boo and offer lots of hugs and TLC to help him feel all better.