Broken Bones: How to Manage a Toddler in a Cast

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READING TIME: 4 min.

Kids are active and frankly, klutzy. Luckily, they are also resilient. I’ve been tagged in many a Facebook mom group post when someone needs tips for a toddler in a cast. I’m not a doctor, but both of my kids have broken a significant bone at three years old or under. Apparently, a few of my neighborhood mom friends think I have valuable insights!

Here are a few tips to help you manage when your kid breaks a bone and needs a cast:

Ask for a waterproof cast.

My daughter broke her femur on the Fourth of July at a neighbor’s house when she was two years old. Oh, and I was 38 weeks pregnant. For a broken leg in the Texas heat, and a mom in the final stage of pregnancy, getting a waterproof cast was a lifesaver for my daughter. A neighbor who has also had her share of kids in casts over the years recommended taking our daughter swimming. Swimming allowed her to feel weightless and cool off while getting off the couch. (Not every cast can be waterproof, and unfortunately my son’s could not. Luckily, that was in the middle of winter, so he didn’t miss out on water activities.)

Forget the bath if possible.

For casts that aren’t waterproof, taking a bath is a whole new animal. If you have a shower wand, that’s your best-case scenario. Depending on the size of your child, you might even use your sink sprayer. We attempted the bath with a bag and some duct tape, and it did not work well.

Find clothes that can adapt to a cast.

One thing we learned was that putting a casted leg through pants was not going to happen. So we quickly grabbed lots of nightgowns instead of her regular shorts-and-tee sleep sets. And during the day, she only wore dresses while in her cast.

When my three-year-old fractured his elbow and was in a long arm cast, getting that clunky thing into his normal-sized shirts was reminiscent of childbirth itself. I sent a quick text to a couple friends who I knew had older boys and asked to borrow some 5T shirts for easy maneuvering in the short term.

Circle the wagons.

When my oldest had a broken leg, we took her everywhere in our Radio Flyer Red Wagon. We cruised the zoo in it with her leg propped up and did our best to keep up with normal activities. We sent it with her to preschool—her friends pulled her out to recess in it, and she lounged in there during the day instead of trying to sit in a normal chair. If you have one, great—if not, ask friends and borrow one for this short season.

toddler in a leg cast in a wagon
A wagon is a great way to transport a toddler in a cast.

Give yourself some grace.

I didn’t feel like mother of the year when the doctor at the ER asked us to leave the room so they could talk to my daughter and understand how the break happened. Just remind yourself: Accidents happen, we do our best to get back on track, and then the kids will recover. Our kids were only in casts three and four weeks, respectively, so the process was actually pretty quick.

stuffed animal with bandages
Tiny broken bones require extra care!

Do your best to focus on the fun.

Let your kids choose their favorite color for the cast. Let all their family, teachers, and friends sign it. Have movie nights and screen time if needed. Make friends with the health care professionals who are on your team. We were so lucky to have friends who happened to be at Medical City in the ER with our daughter. Our little boy became star struck by the man who casted his arm at Children’s Medical Center because of his amazing bedside manner.

I hope you don’t have to deal with casts ever. But in case you do, I hope these tips help. Looking for more? A friend sent me this blog post during my first cast rodeo—lots of tips there!

{Read More: What One Little Scar Has Taught Me}

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