No other age group is as busy, curious, energetic, fast-moving, agile, and fearless as toddlers. We anxiously await the day they take their first steps and then protectively cringe as walking leads to running and climbing and falling. Of course with every fall comes a fear of head injury. I know of a mother who strapped a helmet on her son from the age of 2 to 3 - simply as a precautionary measure! Yes, toddlers fall ... all the time. They fall off their own feet. They fall from pieces of furniture. They fall from atop stools. They fall from swings and slides. They fall through ... windows.
Yep, my best friend Missy - known her since high school, lived with her in college, see her at least once a year despite living in different parts of the country - and her typical toddler, Emmett, recently had the "fall through the window" experience, and she's agreed to share their story with you ... it's a good one!
It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday. We were enjoying a cool breeze in our backyard when our 19 month old son, Emmett, decided that he wanted a snack. Not wanting to lose that fresh, cool Colorado breeze when we went inside, I did something that I never do--I opened the windows. Don't ask why I never do this...perhaps in my gut I knew what would happen if I did. After handing my little boy a treat, I joined my hubby on the couch for a little chit-chat. Behind our couch is a ledge with a wall of windows behind it. I have never understood why this ledge exists. It serves absolutely no purpose. It's just there. A constant annoyance that requires me to say many, many times on a daily basis, "Emmett! Get down from there!"
On this particular day, I was distracted and didn't notice E making the vertical climb up to the ledge. All I know is that about thirty seconds after taking my seat on the couch, I heard a little bump. Not a loud sound, barely audible, in fact, except to a mother's ears. I looked up and noticed that the window screen was torn. And E was nowhere is sight. "Oh, my god, Joe...Emmett fell out the window!"
We immediately bolted out the back door to our patio. Sure enough, there was Emmett...lying on his back and struggling to get up like a turtle that has landed shell-side down. I ran over to him and picked him up (probably too quickly since I didn't know if he was hurt). He didn't appear to be in pain, and he didn't even cry...until, of course, he saw the tears welling up in my eyes and heard the panic in my voice. Then, the floodgates opened..quickly, loudly and without pause, for a good five minutes. Then all of a sudden, he saw our cat walk in front of us, said "CAAAAT!", jumped off my lap and ran to his little feline friend. I thought, "What the heck? Could that be it?" Although my husband insisted that he was okay (typical man), I called the Children's Hospital and spoke with a nurse. She asked how far he had fallen. Luckily, it was only about 3 1/2 feet, but he did land on paver stones. She asked if he had any bumps or bruises...nope. Just one little cut above his forehead. Is he falling down or dizzy? Nope. Complaining of pain? Nope. She said that since he wasn't showing any signs of head trauma and since the fall wasn't more than twice his height, our only course of action was to observe him for 48 hours. He had to sleep with us for two nights, and each night we had to wake him up and make him walk around the room to make sure he didn't have a concussion. Now, unfortunately for E (and us), he is truly like his Momma in that he DOES NOT like to be woken up, particularly for a leisurely stroll at 3 o'clock in the morning. He was mad, mad, mad and he let us know it. After 48 hours, I was finally convinced that we had escaped this little episode unscathed.
As I read this story, I realize just how easily something like this happens. And how scary it can be. As parents it is tough to cover all the bases of child-proofing, and I think we must accept that falls will happen. We can somewhat "prepare" ourselves for the more serious falls by knowing how to react, what to look for, and who to call. This Falls: Safety Sheet from KidsHealth.org is a great place to start and a handy reference to print and keep on hand.
In addition to Missy's firsthand account, I would encourage you to read this article ... for some common sense reminders and tips: