[Skip to Content]

First Aid: Broken Bones

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD

First Aid

Broken bones (or fractures) are a common injury in kids. They often happen after a fall. All broken bones need medical care, no matter how small it seems.

Signs & Symptoms of a Broken Bone

Your child may have a broken bone if:

  • you heard a "snap" or a grinding noise during an injury
  • there's swelling, bruising, or tenderness
  • the injured part is difficult to move or hurts when moving, being touched, or bearing weight

What to Do

  • Take clothing off the injured area.
  • Apply an ice pack wrapped in cloth.
  • Keep the injured limb in the position you find it.
  • Put a simple splint on the broken area if you have one. A splint holds the bone still. This protects it until the child is seen by the doctor. To make a splint, you can use a small board, cardboard, or folded up newspapers. Wrap it with an elastic bandage or tape.
  • Get medical care.
  • Don't let your child eat or drink in case they need surgery.

Do Not Move Your Child and Call 911 Right Away If:

  • You suspect a serious injury to the head, neck, or back.
  • A broken bone comes through the skin. While waiting for help:
    • Keep your child lying down.
    • Do not wash the wound or push in any part that's sticking out.

Think Prevention!

Not every fracture can be prevented. But you can make a break less likely. Follow these tips:

  • Use safety gates at bedroom doors and at both the top and bottom of stairs (for babies or toddlers).
  • Follow helmet and safety gear rules for young athletes and any child riding a bicycle, tricycle, skateboard, scooter, or any type of skates and roller blades.
  • Do not use infant walkers.
Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: May 2018