Babysitting: Dealing With Broken Bones

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Babysitting: Dealing With Broken Bones

Broken bones (or fractures) are a common injury in kids, especially after a fall. No matter where the break is or how small it may seem, all broken bones need to be checked out by a doctor.

Minor breaks often happen in the fingers and toes, and sometimes in the arm. More serious breaks may involve bones in the head, neck, leg, or pelvis. If the part of the body looks different, it's a sign the break might be serious. For example, if a child's arm is bent in an odd way or there's a large bump in the bone, the break may be serious.

Possible signs of a broken bone are:

  • a "snapping" or grinding noise during an injury
  • swelling, bruising, and soreness in the injured area
  • the injured part is difficult to move or hurts when moving, being touched, or bearing weight

What to Do

If you think a child has a minor broken bone:

  • Contact the child's parents immediately and ask what they recommend.
  • Apply an ice pack wrapped in cloth to the injured area.
  • Don't allow the child to eat or drink in case surgery is needed.

If it seems like a child has a serious broken bone:

  • Do not move the child. Call 911 immediately, and then the child's parents.
  • Keep the injured body part in the position you found it — movement can make it worse.
  • Apply an ice pack wrapped in cloth to the injured area.
  • Do not allow the child to eat or drink in case surgery is needed.

To help prevent broken bones:

  • Keep your eyes on young children at all times.
  • Make sure all safety gates are working.
  • Require kids to wear a helmet and other safety gear when using a bicycle, tricycle, skateboard, scooter, or skates.
  • Don't use infant walkers
  • Don't put an infant seat on counters or in other high places when the baby is in the seat.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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