Warning Signs of Concussions in Children and Toddlers

Warning Signs of Concussions in Children and Toddlers


Children that play sports, or just play in general are at risk of getting a concussion. As a parent, you should know the warning signs to look for as concussions can have serious long-term effects and in some cases require immediate care.

What is a Concussion

A concussion can be brought on by a blow to the head or body. It is a type of brain injury that causes the brain to move in the surrounding fluid. The brain can knock against the interior of the skull or twist, causing temporary symptoms.

Symptoms and Signs

Contrary to popular belief, a child or toddler does not need to lose consciousness as the result of a hit to the body or head to be susceptible to a concussion. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a hard hit.

Symptoms also do not necessarily occur directly after the impact. It can take hours or even days for symptoms to appear; therefore parents and caregivers should keep a close eye on their children for some time after impact. In some cases, you may not know that an injury occurred which is why it is extremely important you know what to look for.

Here are some typical signs that may indicate your child has a concussion: headaches, sleepiness, feeling foggy, sick or vomiting, sensitivity to noise and/or light, irritability, changes in sleep patterns, feeling depressed or sad, dizziness, loss of balance, inability to think properly or concentrate.

Other signs may be the child seeming dazed or confused, moving clumsily or have a loss of memory. If you know about the impact, ask your child questions about things that happened before and after the incident. Often times, they will not be able to remember what happened directly before or after if they have a concussion.

Additional Signs for Infants and Toddlers

For infants and toddlers who may not have the ability to communicate what is wrong, on top of any of the above signs look for loss of interest in toys, losing newly learned skills such as potty training or crawling, uncontrollable crying, unable or unwilling to nurse or eat.

When to Seek Help

Although most concussion symptoms will go away within a short period of time, in some instances, you may need to seek medical treatment. If your child lost consciousness as a result of the hit – see a doctor immediately.

Other times you should head to the emergency room include memory loss lasting over 24 hours, signs of shaking, twitching or seizures, slurred speech, inability to wake up, repeated vomiting,  signs that any of the symptoms are getting worse instead of better or if one pupil is larger than the other.

All of these signs could mean there is a possibility your child has suffered from a hematoma as a result of their injury. A hematoma is a medical emergency and your child should be taken to the ER – do not wait until your family doctor can see the child.