When an infant is injured and has a bump or bruise, particularly on the head, this is a potentially serious situation. A baby younger than 1 year of age still has a soft spot on the top of her head, making this a vulnerable area for her skull and brain. Any time your infant is injured, developing bruising or a bump on her body, you should seek medical attention to make sure the injury is not serious.
If your baby falls and strikes his head, he can suffer a head injury. These range from skull fractures and concussions to blood clots underneath the membrane surrounding the brain, as well as brain injuries that develop from the baby’s brain being shaken so it strikes the skull. Brain injuries can be caused by vehicle accidents, falls or physical violence.
If your baby suffers a head injury, it generally occurs from a direct blow — a whiplash injury — which causes brain bruising or shaking, the University of Chicago Medical Center reports.
Symptoms of a mild head injury include a small cut on the skin, a bruised area on the baby’s head, headache, sensitivity to light, confusion, dizziness and irritability. The baby may be nauseated and vomit. He might want to sleep more than usual. If his head injury is more serious, he may lose consciousness and develop one-sided weakness of his body. One pupil may look larger than the other and he may have clear fluid or blood draining from his ears or nose. If you notice any unusual symptoms, take him to the emergency room immediately.
As your baby is learning to walk, she may fall and bump her mouth, leading to bruising, a cut on or inside her mouth and possibly a tooth injury. Because her baby teeth are important to her future dental health, any injury to her teeth that results in bleeding that does not easily stop or results in a broken tooth should be evaluated right away by a pediatric dentist. The dentist will want to check the extent of her injury and evaluate her dental health. Your child may need nothing more than observation, however, the University of Iowa College of Dentistry cautions.
Different circumstances may cause your baby to sustain an injury during birth. If he is a large baby — weighing more than 8 lbs., 13 oz., according to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh — or is premature, he may suffer an injury to his body, resulting in a bump and bruise. If he is born breech, he is at higher risk of suffering an injury, too.
Some common birth injuries include a cephalohematoma, which is bleeding under one of the bones of the skull. The baby develops a raised lump on his skull; this is blood, which his body will reabsorb within two weeks to three months. Another injury is the caput succedaneum, or a swelling of the soft tissues of the baby’s scalp. If your baby was born by vacuum extraction, he is more likely to develop this birth injury; the swelling disappears on its own.
Some bumps and bruises on an infant are not the result of injuries; if an infant develops cancer, she may bruise or bleed more easily. She might also have a bump that does not go back down. These infants can develop cancerous tumors or leukemia, even if they are less than 1 year old. If you notice that your child is losing weight or less active, call your doctor right away.