What to Do If Your 1 Year Old Fell Down Stairs: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents on Baby Falls and Child Injuries

Every parent’s nightmare is to witness their child fall, especially if it’s down the stairs or off the bed or couch.

This article aims to guide you through the crucial moments after a fall, helping you identify signs of serious injury and decide whether to rush to the ER.

Read on to find out how to handle these stressful situations effectively.

The Immediate Aftermath of a Baby Fall: What to Do?

The moments after a child fall can be terrifying. Your one year old may have tumbled down the stairs because you left the stair gate open , and you find them at the bottom of the stairs, crying.

The first thing to do is to check for injuries. Look for signs of a broken bone, bruises, or any bumps on the head.

If the child seems a bit disoriented or has a loss of consciousness, call 911 immediately.

How to Stay Calm When Your Child is Injured?

It’s easier said than done, but try to remain calm. Your child may have fallen head over heels down an entire flight of stairs, but panicking won’t help.

Take deep breaths and make sure you keep a close eye on the child who fell. Assess the situation and decide whether you need to take your child to the emergency room.

Should You Go to the ER After a Toddler Fall?

If your 1-year-old fell down the stairs yesterday and seems absolutely fine today, you’re probably fine.

However, if your child hits their head hard or has a bruise on his head, it’s better to go to the ER.

Head injuries can cause serious complications, and it’s better to get them checked by a medical professional.

Identifying Head Injuries in Children

Head injuries are a common cause of concern when a child falls down the stairs. If your child has a bump on the head or a bruise, apply an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling.

However, if there’s bleeding from the nose or ears, or if the child seems disoriented, seek medical attention immediately.

What are the Signs of Concussion in a Baby?

Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury that can occur when a baby falls and hits their head. They are a serious medical concern that requires immediate attention.

The signs of a concussion in a baby can vary, but some common symptoms to look out for include:

  • Vomiting: One of the early signs of a concussion is vomiting, which may occur shortly after the fall.
  • Dizziness or Disorientation: Your baby may seem unsteady or confused. They might have trouble focusing on objects or people.
  • Loss of Consciousness: While rare, some babies may lose consciousness briefly after a severe fall. This is an immediate red flag requiring urgent medical attention.
  • Irritability or Excessive Crying: A change in behavior, like increased fussiness or inconsolable crying, can be a sign of a concussion.
  • Changes in Sleep Patterns: Either sleeping more than usual or having difficulty falling asleep can be indicative of a concussion.
  • Lack of Interest in Surroundings: If your baby seems disinterested in their toys, feeding, or other activities they usually enjoy, this could be a cause for concern.

The symptoms of a concussion can manifest immediately after the fall or may take a few hours to appear. In some cases, symptoms may not become apparent until 24-48 hours after the injury.

This is why it’s crucial to keep a close eye on your baby after a fall, especially if they hit their head.

If you notice any of these symptoms, take your child to the emergency room or consult your pediatrician as soon as possible.

A healthcare professional will likely perform tests or imaging studies like a CT scan to assess the severity of the injury and determine the best course of treatment.

Remember, it’s always better to be safe and get a professional evaluation if you suspect your baby has suffered a concussion.

What if the Baby Fell on Their Head?

Falls can cause serious injuries, especially if the child fell onto a tile floor or wood floor. If your baby fell from the stairs and hit their head, look for signs of serious head injury like disorientation, vomiting, or loss of consciousness.

If any of these signs are present, go to the ER immediately.

How to Prevent Falls from Bed or Couch?

Prevention is better than cure. Make sure your play area is safe and secure. Use baby gates at the top and bottom of the stairs to prevent any more tumbles.

Also, never leave your child unattended on a bed or couch, as they can easily roll off and get injured. Here are some tips :

Bed Safety

  1. Guardrails: Install guardrails on both sides of the bed to prevent your child from rolling off while sleeping.
  2. Low-Height Beds: Consider using a bed that is low to the ground to minimize the impact in case of a fall.
  3. Soft Landing: Place soft rugs or cushions around the bed to cushion any potential falls.
  4. Supervision: Never leave your child unattended on the bed, especially if they are at an age where they move around a lot.

Couch Safety

  1. No Jumping or Climbing: Teach your child not to jump or climb on the couch, as this increases the risk of falling off.
  2. Use Pillows as Barriers: If your child is sitting on the couch, you can place pillows on either side as makeshift barriers.
  3. Close Supervision: Always keep an eye on your child when they are on the couch, especially if they are very young or prone to moving around a lot.
  4. Floor Cushions: Consider placing floor cushions or soft mats around the couch area to minimize injury in case of a fall.

The Importance of Baby Gates in Preventing Falls

A baby gate can be a lifesaver when it comes to preventing falls down a full flight of stairs. Whether your child is a toddler or a 13 month old, a baby gate can prevent them from falling down the whole flight of stairs.

Please follow the tips below  .Make sure to install gates at both the bottom and top of the stairs for maximum safety.

Stairs Safety

  1. Install Baby Gates: The most effective way to prevent falls down the stairs is to install baby gates at both the top and bottom of the staircase. Make sure they are securely fastened and always closed when not in use.
  2. Non-Slip Mats: Place non-slip mats at the top and bottom of the stairs to provide extra grip.
  3. Handrails: If your child is old enough to use the stairs, teach them to always use the handrails.
  4. Clear the Stairs: Make sure there are no toys, shoes, or other objects on the stairs that could cause a trip and fall.
  5. Supervision: Never let your child use the stairs without adult supervision until you are confident in their ability to navigate them safely.

Common Injuries: Bruises, Broken Bones, and More

Bumps and Bruises are the most common injuries in falls, but broken bones can also occur.

If your child has a bruise, apply an ice pack to reduce swelling. However, if you suspect a broken bone, seek medical attention immediately.

Here are some signs of broken bones :

Physical Signs

  1. Deformity: One of the most obvious signs of a broken bone is a visible deformity. The limb may look bent or twisted in an unnatural position.
  2. Swelling and Bruising: While swelling and bruising can occur with sprains and other injuries, excessive swelling around a joint or limb is often a sign of a broken bone.
  3. Limited Mobility: If your child is unable to move the affected limb or joint, or if movement causes severe pain, it could be a sign of a fracture.
  4. Tenderness: The area around the break will be extremely tender to the touch.
  5. Audible Sound: Sometimes, you may hear a snap or cracking sound at the time of the injury.

Behavioral Signs

  1. Intense Crying or Screaming: While most falls will result in some amount of crying, intense or inconsolable crying can be a sign of severe pain associated with a broken bone.
  2. Refusal to Use Limb: Children may instinctively refuse to use the affected limb if it’s broken. They might hold an arm immobile against their body or refuse to put weight on an injured leg.
  3. Change in Activity Level: A normally active child may become unusually quiet and still if they have suffered a broken bone.

What to Do If You Suspect a Broken Bone

  1. Do Not Move the Limb: Try to keep the limb in a stable position to prevent further injury.
  2. Apply Ice: Use an ice pack wrapped in cloth to reduce swelling and numb some of the pain. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
  3. Elevate the Limb: If possible, elevate the injured limb to minimize swelling.
  4. Seek Medical Attention: This is crucial. If you suspect your child has broken a bone, seek medical attention immediately. Your healthcare provider will likely perform an X-ray to confirm the break and determine the best course of action for treatment.
  5. Follow Medical Advice: Once the break is confirmed, follow all medical advice and treatment plans to ensure proper healing.

When is it Safe to Say the Child is Acting Normal?

After a fall, keep a close eye on your child for the next 24-48 hours. If they are eating well, playing as usual, and show no signs of discomfort or disorientation, it’s probably safe to say they are acting normal. However, if you have any doubts, it’s always better to consult a doctor.

Summary: Key Points to Remember

  • Stay Calm: Your emotional state impacts how effectively you can care for an injured child.
  • Assess the Situation: Look for signs of serious injury like broken bones or head injuries.
  • Go to the ER if Necessary: When in doubt, it’s better to seek professional medical advice.
  • Prevention is Key: Use baby gates and never leave your child unattended on high surfaces.
  • Monitor Your Child: Keep a close eye on them for the next 24-48 hours to ensure they are acting normal.

By following this guide, you can be better prepared for those heart-stopping moments when your child takes a tumble. Stay safe!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q: How long should I monitor my child after a fall?

A: It’s advisable to monitor your child closely for at least 24-48 hours after a fall. Look for any signs of discomfort, disorientation, or other symptoms that may indicate a serious injury.

Q: My child seems fine after falling down the stairs. Do I still need to go to the ER?

A: If your child seems fine, is acting normal, and shows no signs of serious injury, you may not need to go to the ER. However, it’s always better to consult your pediatrician for professional advice, especially if the child hit their head.

Q: What are the signs of a concussion in a toddler?

A: Signs of a concussion in a toddler may include dizziness, vomiting, loss of consciousness, or disorientation. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Q: How can I prevent my child from falling off the bed or couch?

A: To prevent falls from high surfaces like beds or couches, never leave your child unattended. You can also use guardrails or pillows as barriers. Make sure the play area around these surfaces is also safe and free from hazards.

Q: Are baby gates effective in preventing falls down the stairs?

A: Yes, baby gates are highly effective in preventing falls, especially for toddlers who are still learning to navigate stairs. Install gates at both the top and bottom of the stairs for maximum safety.

Q: My child has a bruise after the fall. What should I do?

A: For minor bruises, you can apply an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain. However, if the bruise is large or if your child seems uncomfortable, it’s best to consult a doctor.

Q: My child fell on a tile floor. Is that more dangerous than falling on a carpet?

A: Falls onto hard surfaces like tile floors can cause more serious injuries compared to softer surfaces like carpets. If your child fell onto a tile floor, it’s crucial to check for signs of serious injury and consult a doctor if needed.

Q: What should I do if my child loses consciousness after a fall?

A: If your child loses consciousness, even briefly, call 911 immediately. Loss of consciousness is a serious symptom that requires immediate medical attention.

Q: Can a child get a broken bone from a simple fall?

A: While broken bones are less common than bruises, they can still occur from a fall, especially if the child lands awkwardly. If you suspect a broken bone, seek medical attention immediately.

Q: My child wanted to go back and play immediately after the fall. Is that a good sign?

A: While it may be a good sign that your child is not seriously injured, it’s still important to monitor them closely for any delayed symptoms. Consult a doctor if you have any concerns.



This post is written and edited by Sandy who is a clinical pharmacist with over 20 years of experience specializing in pre-natal and post-natal care.