How I Handled My Toddler’s First Broken Bone


Just eight days shy of his second birthday, Holland took a spill off of the couch and broke a bone.

We had spent one night in our new home, I was upstairs in the kitchen putting the kids dinner together, and I heard a thump and some crying. I had left both children on the couch, watching a television show, innocent enough. But toddlers are not predictable. In fact, they are quite the opposite.

Toddlers are little, chaotic, emotional beings. At times over-energetic, at other times quick to get tired – it’s a whirlwind of activities, and clumsy moments, and boo-boos.

Holland decided to mount the top edge of the sofa as if it were a horsey.

He then fell sideways off the back of the sofa, landing on his shoulder first, then hitting his head, on the hard concrete floors.

The shoulder took the brunt of the landing, although he had quite a goose egg on his head.

I knew something was wrong when the crying quickly turned into a scream. I left the chicken fingers on the counter island and ran down the stairs, cradling my baby boy and asking my daughter what had happened. I took him outside to get some fresh air and to help him relax. The crying continued.

Then he suddenly started clawing at his shoulder and screaming in pain.

I thought he had broken his shoulder.

I threw both kids in the Jeep, raced down the highway faster than I should have, and sat in the emergency room with a sobbing child. He hadn’t stopped crying since the fall.

When they finally gave us a bed, I explained what happened, first to the nurse, then to the doctor, and I was told we’d be under observation to see if “he was really hurt or just upset”. I was fuming. I knew my child. I knew this wasn’t him to lie in my arms, screaming in pain, his whole body shuddering as he lifted his arm.

A few times I was in tears. A few times Chanel was in tears.

We were devastated.

The nurse even asked if I had an iPhone to “distract him with”. If Elmo can’t calm a kid down, what would?

Finally they gave him some Tylenol & Advil. About 30 minutes later they gave him a dose of morphine and informed me that the x-ray technician would be in shortly. Finally, finally, finally.

The morphine made him drowsy, but he was still crying and moaning in my arms.

The x-ray technician took us into the room, where I had to lay him down on the bed and they covered him with the x-ray protecting garments, as well as myself. I had to leave my daughter alone in the waiting room around the corner – sometimes I feel like hospitals make it so hard for families with small children.

After the x-ray I found my daughter, still shook up but doing okay, and we went back to our  little bed in the emergency area. Holland would drowsily fall asleep in my arms, then his body would jolt and he’d be awake again, crying and moaning. Chanel was in better spirits after taking all the goodies the nurses tried to bring Holland but he wasn’t interested in: the lollipop, the popsicle, the chocolate, the sticker, and, now, the iPhone.

Three hours since arriving at the hospital, we finally had the proof that he indeed broke a bone: his clavicle, or collarbone. He landed on his shoulder but the impact caused the collarbone to break and it was broken on a bit of an angle.

Since this was a bone that they couldn’t put a cast on, they gave us a sling for him to wear. Exact instructions: Holland must wear the sling for 2 weeks straight. It would lessen the strain of any weight that his arm would put on the collarbone. Only other instructions were to administer Advil & Tylenol (children’s) to him every 6 hours.

Holland was now fast asleep, Chanel & I left the hospital, and slowly drove home.

At home I gently carried him out of the car seat and laid him in his crib where he didn’t wake up until 8 am the next morning. The day after the fall was a little rough, keeping the sling on was tricky as he kept pulling his arm out of it, but he seemed in good spirits. The nights were a bit tough, waking up in tears – too hot and sweaty from the sling, and in pain.

A couple of days after the fall? It seemed like nothing could hold him back.  He fell on a Thursday, by Monday he was back to his normal self. I tried to keep his sling on but by Wednesday I gave up – he never kept his arm in the sling by that point anyway. He had full motion of his arm, he didn’t seem to be in pain, and I had slowly lengthened medicine intervals so he wasn’t getting as much as time went on.

It has been almost 4 weeks since he broke his bone, and though there’s a little bump that shouldn’t be there, he’s perfectly happy and healthy.


It’s quite difficult for me to admit that I somehow allowed this to happen – although I know it’s truly an accident – sometimes I think I could have prevented this. I admit that I’ve seen young children with casts covering their broken arms or legs before and I judgmentally think, how could someone let this happen? And now, I’m the parent with the shame over a broken collarbone.

Since the accident I’ve been a bit more cautious about allowing Holland to do things – just normal little stunts toddler boys try to do, another mom even noted that I was being overprotective of him and that he would be safe – and I admit I snapped a bit in response, saying that when your baby breaks a bone, you become a bit more watchful of his actions.

There’s a part of me that knows I won’t be able to protect him from everything that will happen to him – like this case, falling in his own home! – but there’s a part of me that thinks it might be possible to wrap him up in bubble wrap and not let a fly hurt him. Which is silly.

I know people are better for the experiences they take and for the mishaps that happen to them. I feel like every ordeal or adventure can be learnt from. I know that my babies will be hurt again, as much I hate to accept it. Emotionally and physically – it’s life. It happened to me, it will happen to them.

Life is a beautiful struggle.

Live simply, love generously, speak truthfully, breathe deeply, and do your best.
Leave everything else to the powers above you.
– Unknown

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