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The accident-prone toddler

When young children become mobile — when they start to really move and use their arms, legs, feet and hands to get at just about anything and go about anywhere — they tend to get a few boo boos along the way. Sometimes, though, our cute little offspring seem to be unusually accident prone. Here’s how to tell if their clumsiness is a natural part of the developmental process, or something else.

Toddler girl falling down

Developmentally appropriate?

A certain number of falls, bumps and bruises are to be expected with toddlers. They are growing rapidly and developing brand-new motor skills. Not everything is going to work together perfectly the first time (or even the 10th or 100th!). The body has to work out some kinks, train some muscles and learn how to process signals properly. While seeing scrapes and such on your precious child can be difficult (and holding him while he cries out the hurt can be heart wrenching), not every bump requires a doctor’s visit or even any worry.

During growth spurts, coordination may seem to backslide briefly while your child gets used to her bigger body. The brain is still judging and acting on the little body it had before the growth spurt, but the reality of the (slightly!) bigger body means the step just isn’t the same — and a tumble happens. That’s perfectly normal, but if her coordination doesn’t return shortly, it might be time to seek help.

prepare for his mobility

It’s a fine line, however, between developmentally expected bumps and bruises and something more serious. Repeated injuries of a serious nature will get the attention of local authorities. Make sure that you are supervising your child properly and have put into place the appropriate childproofing in your home to head off the unnecessarily serious boo boos.

Seek reassurance

If, however, you are concerned that your toddler’s falling and bumping just aren’t right, his pediatrician can offer guidance, reassurance and, if appropriate, some testing. Following up with a professional can help you understand your child’s developmental phase and the kinds of physical effects pediatricians expect to see in children of this age.

Your toddler may seem accident prone, but more than likely, she is just being a toddler. Keep her from real harm by ramping up the childproofing in your home, and get used to saying “Oopsies!”

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