How bad is the boo boo? Or 'The day I broke my toddlers leg'

His leg looked fine and everyone who had gathered around us was sure that the injury was, at worst, a sprain.
His leg looked fine and everyone who had gathered around us was sure that the injury was, at worst, a sprain.

So, Mom of the Year here (that’s me!), recently took my two-year-old to his first trampoline park, where I accidentally double-jumped him (you read that right).

I caused him to break his rhythm and his leg - he cracked his proximal tibia, to be precise.

Please, spare me any lectures about how dangerous trampoline parks are and how irresponsible it was for me to let my child loose in one of those death traps. Until the moment of offence (ten minutes before our last jumping session was up), we were having an absolute blast.

My child was experiencing nothing short of pure, unadulterated joy and I was having a pretty good time too. It had been a tough few weeks and we needed to let loose and blow off some steam.

Then it happened – his hundredth fall for the day but one that made my stomach flip as soon as I saw it. This time, I knew the boo-boo was bad – real bad.

The usual post-fall screaming and crying ensued, but something was different. My son, who normally bounces back within 30 seconds of any injury, was instantly damp and starting to quiver. His eyes were erratic, almost fearful, and he cried for far longer than he usually would, clinging to me tighter than he ever has before.

Something was wrong

Must read: "My kid bumped his head!" When you should seek medical attention

To the untrained eye, there was no blood, no obvious break, no bone sticking out, no flailing limb. His leg looked fine and everyone who had gathered around us was sure that the injury was, at worst, a sprain. My child’s nap was also long overdue and he’d had a big morning with lots of excitement.

The general assumption was that the big tears were probably a combination of all those factors, culminating in another innocent fall. Everyone was kindly reassuring me that he’d be okay, kids are resilient, he would be up and walking again as soon as he’d had his nap and rested his leg. But my gut was telling me otherwise.

Ignoring any suggestions to the contrary, I took him straight to the emergency room.

Go with your gut – it’s a thing

While in the waiting room, I toggled between laughing at myself for being a mollycoddling helicopter parent and berating myself for not being more vigilant. I had been having too much fun when I should have been watching him more closely. There, I said it.

By the time we saw the doctor, my son seemed fine. He wasn’t complaining about the pain and he wanted to go home and jump (I kid you not) on the trampoline. However, X-rays confirmed my suspicion of a break, and I’ve never been so disappointed to be right about something.

Also see: 8 childproofing devices for your busy toddler

Within two hours of The Fall, my toddler was in a full leg cast and had to be off his feet until the cast could come off, doctor’s orders.

My biggest punishment?

Three weeks of one-on-one time with a toddler who:

a) couldn’t go to preschool. For. Three. Weeks;

b) needed to stay relatively still and off his feet during that time; and

c) had to be carried wherever he needed to go. All 14kg of him.

Thankfully, because I’d acted quickly, my son didn’t do any further damage to his tibia, and no surgery would be necessary. Three cheers for tuning into my mom gut!

Not all serious injuries are obvious

So, apart from your keen sixth sense as a parent, what warrants a trip to the ER? When is it safe to say that you’re not being paranoid about a seemingly innocent injury? 

  • Head injuries should be monitored closely. If your child is acting strangely (even for a toddler) after a bump to the head, or if he or she is vomiting, has a fever or lost consciousness even for a few seconds after the injury, get them to the hospital.
  • Eye injuries are also not to be messed with. No parent, unless they’re an opthamologist, is trained to mess around in that department. Your toddler is also less likely to be able to communicate properly whether his or her eyesight is impaired, so rather go check it out.
  • Don’t take a chance with allergic reactions. These can escalate very quickly and you want to be in the right place and among trained professionals if any serious intervention is required.
  • Dog bites could seem harmless, especially if you’re familiar with the guilty party. Still, it’s better to head to the hospital soon after the injury to prevent the onset of infection.

Unfortunately, frequent injuries are par for the course when it comes to parenting toddlers and the list of possible injuries your child can incur is endless. My best non-expert advice (besides trusting your judgment and not berating yourself to oblivion)? Buckle up, it’s a bumpy ride.

Have you had to take your toddler to the emergency room? Was it as serious as you expected?

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Read more:

5 experts answer: Is it okay to give children pain killers?

Lawyer: You can sue if your child is injured at school

WATCH: Teenage boy catches toddler falling from a second-floor window

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