Caring for your child after a head injury

If your child has been discharged from the Emergency Department after being assessed for a head injury, our clinicians are confident that no further treatment is needed. 

Only a small number of babies/children experience any problems after going home. Most problems occur within the first 24 hours after injury (48 hours for a baby). So it is essential that a responsible adult is with your child for at least 24 hours (48 hours for a baby) after the injury.

You do not need to keep your child awake – allow them to rest if they want to. However, keep a close eye on them if they sleep during the day, and check on them two or three times during the night.

For the first 24 hours (48 hours for a baby) after a head injury, your child should:

  • Take part in only gentle activities 
  • Eat light meals
  • Continue with any usual medication
  • Avoid playing on climbing frames or riding a bicycle
  • Avoid noisy environments
  • Take paracetamol (eg Calpol) or ibuprofen (eg Nurofen for children) in normal doses if they have a headache or other pain. 

Bring your child back to the Emergency Department immediately your child:

  • Vomits more than three times. It is common for children to vomit once or twice and you should not worry about this in the absence of other symptoms
  • Becomes unusually sleepy or difficult to rouse
  • If your baby's cry is higher in pitch than normal
  • Becomes confused or does not appear to behave normally
  • Becomes fretful or agitated, not settling with simple painkillers
  • Complains of persistent blurred or double vision or new deafness
  • Has clear fluid or blood coming out of his or her ears or nose.

If your baby or child has a  seizure(fit) or collapses (is twitching and difficult to wake), phone 999 immediately to call an ambulance..

If you have any other concerns, please contact your GP, visit NHS 111 online or return to the Emergency Department

It is common for babies and children to experience the following after a head injury:

  • Mild headache
  • Feeling sick without vomiting
  • Being irritable or grumpy
  • Tiredness
  • Poor appetite
  • Difficulty in concentrating.

These should settle after a few days. They might also display difficult behaviour at nursery, playgroup or school. When you feel your child is ready to start school, nursery/playgroup again, tell the teacher or manager about the head injury and ask to be informed of any difficult or change in behaviour.

If any of the issues listed above don't settle within a few days, please contact your GP, visit NHS 111 online or return to the Emergency Department.