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Symptoms of Serious Neck Injuries in Toddlers

By Constance Barker ; Updated July 27, 2017

Neck injuries in a toddler may occur from falls or banging their head against a wall or piece of furniture. Young children’s necks are fragile and not adequately supportive of their heads, so when an injury to the head or neck occurs, it may easily tear or bruise tendons in the neck. Some injuries are minor, but others are serious and should receive immediate medical attention.


Toddlers will exhibit screaming and crying if they feel pain in the neck area. They may rub at their necks, especially the back of the neck. They may complain of neck pain or cry when you touch their neck. Their neck muscles may appear swollen. He may also feel pain in other areas beside the neck, for instance, shooting down his arm, or complain that his head hurts. In a serious neck injury your child may not stop crying.

Abnormal Breathing

Neck injury may result in nervous system damage and affect breathing. Abnormal breathing symptoms may include shallow breathing, trouble taking a breath or trouble taking deep breaths.

Nausea and Vomiting

Head and neck injuries sometimes go hand in hand. If your child exhibits nausea, vomiting and dizziness, they may have fallen and injured both their head and neck.

Difficulty Moving Neck

A serious neck injury symptom might include difficulty for the child to move his neck. He may not be able to turn his neck without pain.


Your child may exhibit walking or standing difficulties with a neck injury. They may become dizzy or have balance issues. It is sometimes hard to distinguish this in small toddlers who are just beginning to stand and walk, but you should notice if something is out of the ordinary in the way your child is moving.

Pupils and Other Symptoms

Pupils may become dilated or one pupil may appear larger than the other in a serious neck injury. Children may also become highly irritable or inconsolable. Unconsciousness, numbness in their feet or hands or seizures may occur. Seek immediate medical attention if your child exhibits symptoms of a neck or head injury.

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