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Coping with a toddler with a fracture

on June 20, 2012
  1. Don’t.  Seriously, do whatever it takes to avoid your baby breaking their leg.  You would think this is straightforward enough – don’t leave them unattended climbing up stairs or near furniture which looks temptingly like a ladder.  However, as Little Girl broke her leg while cruising round the walls (which sounds, to me, like she’s driving down Hollywood Boulevard in a sports car), you actually need to follow them round at all times, which may be possible when you have one child and a partner who will do all the housework, but not when you have an older child and no-one to do all the stuff you can’t do because you’re hovering behind your child.  Or design some sort of semi-spherical room so that there’s nothing your child can pull themselves up on.  It’s possible this may stunt their development but it avoids fractures.
  2. If you’re not sure whether your child’s injury is serious and you decide to wait til morning and see how they are, take this opportunity to wash their hair.  No, one day won’t make that much difference, particularly when your baby likes rubbing yoghurt across their whole head, but at least you’ll feel like you’ve tried.
  3. When you do eventually get to A&E and they ask how your baby broke your leg, don’t say “I don’t really know”.  You don’t need the four-hour safeguarding enquiry.  I’m not advocating lying.  I’m just saying, tell them what you think happened like you actually think it happened.
  4. Take advice from the medical professionals.  If they say “we could put a cast on below the knee but it will almost certainly slip and then you’ll just have to come back to hospital to get an above-the-knee cast put on”, listen to them.
  5. And on that note, avoid your child breaking their leg on a Friday evening.  It means going to A&E, having a temporary cast put on, and then going back to fracture clinic during a weekday for a proper cast to be put on.
  6. And while you’re at it, don’t leave it til Friday night to notice that the stupid below-the-knee cast has slipped.  You end up back in A&E for yet another temporary cast and a further trip to Fracture Clinic.
  7. When they say “don’t let your child walk on the temporary cast” pay attention.  At least wait until it has set.
  8. It is impossible to stop your mobile toddler walking on a temporary cast unless you have a team of people to help with things like cooking, cleaning and giving your uncasted toddler a bath.  See point 1.
  9. Ignore people who say “Awww, poor baby! How did *that* happen?”  Or, more to the point, ignore the part of your brain that translates their sympathy into “what sort of a mother lets her not-even-one-year-old break her leg?”.
  10. Buy calpol.  Buy more calpol.
We’re back at Fracture Clinic on Tuesday where the cast will hopefully be removed.  I anticipate discovering that, no matter how hard it seems to be to look after a baby with a leg in a cast, it’s nothing compared to the difficulties of looking after a baby with a wobbly and sore leg from being in a plaster cast for four weeks.  Oh, and discovering quite how much food Little Girl has shoved inside her cast.

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