Bumps and blows to the head

Essential information to remember

You can also call Info-Santé at any time by dialling 8-1-1 if you have any concerns.

Active young children hit their heads frequently, for example when they fall down. Most of the time these bumps and blows to the head are not serious and cause no harm. However, sometimes a more severe blow can lead to complications. These complications can arise immediately, or up to 72 hours after the bump or blow to the head.

What to do

If any of the situations described in the red box on the next page apply to your child, see a doctor or go to the emergency room right away.

If your child is behaving normally and is not displaying any of the symptoms listed in the red box, keep a close eye on him.

In the first 6 hours after the blow to the head – If your child wants to sleep, let him. But wake him up every two to three hours to make sure he is reacting normally. If he is still reacting normally after six hours, you can let him sleep as he usually would.

In the first 72 hours after the blow to the head – If your child has any of the symptoms described in the red box, see a doctor.

Information to which you should pay special attention

See a doctor or go to the emergency room right away in any of the following situations:

  • Your child is less than 3 months old.
  • Your child has lost consciousness.
  • He is semi-conscious, disoriented, or behaving strangely (e.g., he is difficult to wake, very irritable, does not make eye contact, or displays some other behaviour you find troubling).
  • He is having a convulsion, is very agitated, or is shaking.
  • He has trouble moving an arm or a leg, has trouble walking, or lacks coordination.
  • He has a lump or deformation in the scalp area (on the top, back, or side of his head).
  • He fell from a height of more than 0.9 metre (3 feet) or 5 steps.
  • His head was hit very hard or hit by a fast moving object.
  • He has vomited more than once.
  • A bruise appears behind his ear or under his eye.
  • There is a clear or reddish discharge from his ear.

Call 9-1-1 if the situation seems serious and urgent enough that you need an ambulance.