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A Toddler With a Headache

author image Kristie Jernigan
Kristie Jernigan is a health writer with over 17 years of experience as a medical social worker. She has worked mainly with the elderly population and with children. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and early childhood from East Tennessee State University and a Master of Science in health care administration and gerontology from the University of Phoenix.
A Toddler With a Headache
Headaches can cause toddlers to act very ill.

Unlike babies, toddlers can point to or describe pain. This makes it is easier to determine if your toddler is suffering from a headache. Mild headaches are common in toddlers. However, some types of headaches in toddlers are the result of more serious, life-threatening illness. Be aware of the symptoms and causes of headaches so you know when to ask for professional help.

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Various things can cause a headache in your child. Kids Health reports that toddlers with ear infections, strep throat, sinus infections or even colds or flu are susceptible to headaches. Eating food such as chocolate, yogurt, or foods with MSG, will cause headaches. Strong odors or smoke will trigger headaches. Other headache triggers include a lack of sleep or suffering from hunger. Causes that are more serious include meningitis, which, according to the Meningitis Research Foundation is a swelling of the lining around the brain.


Toddlers with headaches will often reach for or hold their heads. They may cry and try to lie still. They will not want to be touched and will not want you to hold them. The Meningitis Research Foundation reports that meningitis symptoms are difficult to recognize but can include fever, vomiting, feeling ill, limb pain, cold hands and feet or a rash. Neck stiffness and confusion also occur in toddlers with meningitis. Meningitis is a life-threatening disease and you should immediately seek the advice from your physician if you believe your child has this medical condition. Do not try and treat meningitis at home, seek prompt medical assistance by taking your child to a physician or emergency room.


The Mayo Clinic reports that simple things such as reducing busy schedules and stress can prevent headaches in toddlers. You need to practice healthy eating and reduce junk food, caffeine, and skipping meals. According to the Mayo Clinic, you can prevent headaches in toddlers by making sure your child gets plenty of rest and stays physically active. A preventative to reduce the frequency and severity of headaches is prescription medication. The Mayo Clinic reports that your physician may prescribe certain antidepressants or anti-seizure medications for this purpose.


Over-the-counter pain medications are available as a treatment for your toddler’s headache. The Mayo Clinic recommends not using over-the-counter pain medications for more than two or three days a week because overuse can trigger a headache. Using a cold compress or ice pack will help to reduce the pain. However, if the ice pack is too cold, it will cause even more pain. Encourage your child to lie down and be still; this will give the ice pack and medication time to work. If these simple, at-home treatments do not work, seek the advice of your physician. If your toddler is suffering from meningitis or serious illness, a hospital will provide treatment such as IV medications.

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