When Our Toddler Broke Her Leg

Last year I remember a day when I went to get my hair cut. I was getting my ‘new mum’ hair cut and having my hair all cut off short for the first time. I was going to the hairdresser straight after work and Dave was picking LP up from the childminder and doing her dinner, bath and bed by himself for one of the first times.

That evening LP wasn’t herself, really wingey and upset, waking a few times in the night. We gave her calpol and didn’t think much of it. The next day LP had the day with her Nanny and was fine whilst she was there – I picked her up after work and again we had the same moany, upset evening and night. Again, I put it down to teething and dosed LP up on calpol.

The next day, Saturday, Dave was having a lay in as he was due to work a night shift that night and I was downstairs with LP. This was the first proper quality time I’d had with her all week as any working parent will know – mornings and evenings aren’t quality time but instead a rush of getting everything ready and preparing for the day or the following day.

LP was playing as normal, crawling around, ‘chatting’ to me and happy. I was thinking how we must be over the teething episode and how I hoped our happy Little Pickle had returned when I realised LP wasn’t standing up. Usually she’d pull herself up on the sofa and cruise around the furniture but she hadn’t done it all morning. I tried to remember when I last saw her standing and I couldn’t remember. I tried to coax LP into standing up, offering her toys that she’d need to stand to reach but she just wouldn’t do it. I thought, and hoped, that she was just being stubborn…

Dave came downstairs and I told him that LP wasn’t standing up. We tried to get her to stand at the baby gate by putting her there in a standing position and up until that point I had never seen her so upset – she screamed like anything and refused to put her right leg down on the floor and wouldn’t put any weight on the other leg. We knew then that something was wrong.

We took LP to the hospital, explaining to them that she was happy in herself, playing like always and that she’d been upset the previous couple of nights but we’d put it down to teething. We then said that she wouldn’t stand up and we thought there might be something wrong with her leg but we had no idea what.

We saw a nurse who weighed LP – still only around 18lb at 14 months – and gave her some pain relief. We then saw a Doctor who moved LP’s leg and foot around and couldn’t see any problem – LP was again absolutely fine until it came to put weight on her leg and she cried and refused. We were then sent for X-Rays which Dave took her in to whilst I stayed outside. All I could hear during the whole thing was LP crying, she was so upset.

We then went back to wait for a Doctor to talk to us about the X-Rays. I thought she may have sprained it somehow, hurt a muscle. The news was much worse.

At the age of 14 months old LP had broken her leg.

LP had a greenstick fracture to both her right Tibia and Fibula. The positive news was that it would heal better than a clean break and children’s bones heal a lot better than adults. That really was the only positive.

The nurses had to do blood tests on LP to make sure she had no bone deficiencies that could have caused her leg to break more easily than normal. Dave held LP whilst a nurse put a cannula in her hand and squeezed blood from it and another nurse caught the drips. This was one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever had to watch. LP was so small and getting blood was so hard. It seemed to take forever.

We were quizzed by so many people about the previous few days and about how LP had come to have a broken leg. We didn’t have a clue. We were told that social services needed to be involved and we couldn’t leave the hospital until they’d heard from them. We ended up being at the hospital all day, from 10am until 6pm whilst they put LP’s leg in a cast and waited for contact from social services.

Social Services never got back to them and we were told to expect a phone call from them. We wracked our brains to try and work out how this had happened but in the end we realised that we really hadn’t spent that much time at all with LP over the preceding few days, she’d been with her childminder.

Our childminder was great. Very old school and did things differently in some respects than we would at home – Liked to spoon feed LP even though we had never spoon fed her and liked her to nap wherever/whenever rather than regimented naps as two examples, but on the whole she was great and was incredibly flexible with the hours we needed. Since LP had started going to her to be looked after we had a diary that went backwards and forwards between us, documenting the day, what she’d eaten, nappies, sleep etc. When we came home from the hospital we turned to this diary to see what LP had been up to when she started to act different to her normal, happy self – the Thursday before.

On the Thursday, in the book, there was a lot of the normal entries, food, sleep, general mood. Then it said that they’d been to a drop in children’s session at the local Children’s Centre. LP had been playing on the floor with the other children but got upset and had spent the rest of the time sitting in the pushchair.

We had literally weeks of investigation by social services. We were interviewed, the childminder was interviewed by phone and they even telephoned LP’s Nanny who she was with on the Friday. We finally got a report back the weekend before Christmas to say that we were no longer being investigated and LP’s broken leg was an accident. I know, in my heart, that LP broke her leg at that session with the childminder but we have nothing to prove that – and either way it wasn’t the childminder’s fault. You can take your eyes off a child for a second and anything can happen. To this day we don’t blame her, it was an accident and these things happen.

LP had a cast on her leg for a month and that, along with the social services investigation was the most traumatic time of being a parent. It was probably the most traumatic time of my life. Every bath time we had to cover LP’s cast with a waterproof cover and she screamed throughout the bathtime. Before breaking her leg LP loved the bath and seeing her so distraught at the prospect of a bath was awful for us.

When Our Toddler Broke Her Leg

After LP’s cast was taken off her little leg looked all hairy and pale and we were so extra careful of hurting it in any way. Even now, a year later, I’ll have moments where I’ll think that we should be careful – when we’re playing roughly or when we’re changing nappies and holding her legs.

The social services investigation was horrendous. I felt awful about LP breaking her leg. I didn’t think anything could make me feel like a worse parent than I did in the hospital when they told us LP had broken her leg, but having social services in our house, asking us questions about our family life and looking at where LP slept made me feel horrendous. It was horrible having someone pull apart your family unit and inspect every inch of it. I know that these things are necessary but at the time it made such an awful situation so much worse. To add to that, when we finally got the report from them – a 14 page document – before Christmas it was full of inconsistencies. They said one minute it was her left leg then changed it to her right. They contradicted themselves constantly and even the spelling and grammar were poor. We complained to Social Services, saying that we wanted a true reflection of the details to be on file rather than the sheets of errors they had sent us. It took until the end of January but we received an apology and a new, correct, document.

LP breaking her leg was a year ago yesterday. It is a time that we will never, ever forget but it also feels like such a long time ago now that it is no longer at the front of our minds. I didn’t blog around that time at all – I had been back at work for a short time, LP broke her leg and Social Services were a dark cloud in our lives. But the next time I blogged it was to announce our pregnancy with Little Man – and everything started to get brighter!


  • Donna Wishart

    Donna Wishart is married to Dave and they have two children, Athena (12) and Troy (11). They live in Surrey with their two cats, Fred and George. Once a Bank Manager, Donna has been writing about everything from family finance to days out, travel and her favourite recipes since 2012. Donna is happiest either exploring somewhere new, with her camera in her hand and family by her side or snuggled up with a cat on her lap, reading a book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. She firmly believes that tea and cake can fix most things.

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  1. THe whole ordeal sounds pretty frightful although it does give you a good feeling in that social services in some areas DO investigate and DO make sure the little ones in your area are safe. When you’re totally innocent of any wrongdoing I can understand it has to be horribly traumatic, though XX

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