Children and head injuries
- Any knock to the head is considered a head injury.
- Head injuries can vary from mild to severe.
- Symptoms can appear up to 3 days after the accident.
- If you are concerned about your child after a head injury, get them checked at hospital.
Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance if your child:
- has had a head injury involving high speeds, for example a car crash
- has had a head injury involving a height greater than one metre, for example falling from playground equipment
- loses consciousness
- seems unwell and vomits more than once after hitting their head
Almost all young children will bump their head at some time. Mild to moderate head injuries are one of the most common reasons for children to be seen at hospital. Any knock to the head is considered a head injury.
This page gives information on head injuries in babies and young children (up to 5 years). It includes what to look for and when to get help. For information on head injuries in older children and adults, visit the healthdirect head injuries page.
Symptoms and what to do after a head injury
Head injuries can vary from mild to severe. Sometimes symptoms can take up to 3 days to appear.
You should take your child to hospital straight away if their head injury is from:
- a motor vehicle accident
- being hit by a car when walking or cycling
- falling more than 1 metre before the age of 2 years
- falling more than 1.5 metres after the age of 2 years
- being struck by a high-impact object
- seizure (fit)
- double vision
- reduced level of consciousness
- loss of consciousness
- weakness and tingling in their arms or legs
- vomiting (throwing up) more than once
- severe headache
- not acting normally
- increased sleepiness, agitation, restlessness or combativeness
If your child only vomits once, they should be checked by your doctor.
If your child has a ground level fall or runs into an object they don’t usually need to go to hospital.
Treatment for head injuries and recovery
After a mild head injury your child will need plenty of rest for the first 1 to 2 days.
If they have a headache, you can give them paracetamol every 6 hours.
You don’t need to wake your child during the night unless a doctor has told you to do this.
If you have difficulty waking your child call triple zero (000) immediately.
After a concussion
Recovering from a concussion can take 4 weeks or more.
It is likely that your doctor will want your child to rest at home. They should also avoid activities that put them at risk of another injury.
Talk to your doctor about when your child can return to school or childcare.
First aid skills help you to know what to do when there is an emergency. You can find out more about first aid here.
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: December 2022
Need more information?
Minor Head Injury in Children
A mild head injury, also known as concussion, means that the brain has had a slight jolt and will need time to recover. Not all bumps to the head result in concussion.
Read more on Queensland Health website
Concussion and mild head injury | Sydney Children's Hospitals Network
What is concussion? A concussion is an injury to the brain caused by sudden strong movement of the brain against the skull
Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website
Concussion in children & teenagers | Raising Children Network
A concussion is a mild head injury. If your child has concussion, he’ll need a short rest. He can start returning to normal activities 24-48 hours later.
Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website
Head injuries and concussion - Better Health Channel
There is no specific treatment for mild head injury other than plenty of rest, and not overdoing things.
Read more on Better Health Channel website
Traumatic Brain Injury in Children - Connectivity
Concussion isn't an injury that solely affects adults. It can also occur in babies, toddlers, children and teens, and can be harmful to a child's developing brain.
Read more on Connectivity Traumatic Brain Injury Australia website
The HeadCheck App is a concussion app to assist parents, first aiders, trainers and coaches to recognise and manage recovery of concussion in kids. Learn more here.
Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website
Hearing problems in children - Better Health Channel
The earlier that hearing loss is identified in children, the better for the child?s language, learning and overall development.
Read more on Better Health Channel website
Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.
Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?
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