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Tips For Surviving A Toddler Broken Leg

Eva Amurri Martino's son major goofs around in a leg cast

As those of you know who follow me on social media (his cast made a couple appearances on here as well!), Major broke his little leg a couple of months ago.  His tibia, to be exact.  It was so sad and stressful, but the way it happened made it even more frustrating.  He was jumping on a trampoline at a trampoline park, and his bone just broke.  He didn’t fall off, or bump in to anybody– nothing out of the ordinary! The American Academy of Pediatrics states that children under six should not jump on trampolines for any reason, and unfortunately I learned why the hard way.  I had never even heard that warning before, and I think most parents don’t realize how dangerous trampolines are.  Case in point, when Major went to the ER for his X-ray, he was the fourth child that DAY with the same break from the same trampoline park.  Enough said.  

Anyway, this blog post is not about trampoline parks! What it IS about is the tips, tricks, and words of wisdom I’ve gathered since having a toddler in a cast up to his hip for a month.  I hope this same situation doesn’t happen to any of you, but if it does– this is the blog post to reference! Feel free to share if you know anyone in need of some tools to get through it!

Eva Amurri Martino's son major goofs around in a leg cast

Buckle Up

I really underestimated how tricky, frustrating, and emotional it would be to have a small child with a full leg cast, unable to walk for a month.  I wish I had cleared my schedule as much as I could, had taken it easy along with Major, and had lowered my expectations for what we would be able to do as a family during that time.  It’s the perfect time to relax as a family as much as possible and to slow WAY down.  Also, buy extra wine. LOL. 

The Shower Is Your Friend!

My friend Sarah’s daughter broke her leg at a couple years older than Major, and she had some great tips for me when we went through it! Her best recommendations revolved around shower prep, and I’m telling you, getting the bathing problem under control totally saved us.  She recommended this cast cover for the shower, as well as this shower chair.  I would put the cast cover on his leg, and put the shower chair out of the direct stream of water.  Then I’d use a piece of Tupperware to rinse him, wash, and repeat.  

Cover The Cast

Major dragged himself all over the place for an entire month, and covering the cast with one of Kyle’s socks really helped prevent the cast from getting torn up and rubbing or scratching the wood floors.  Plus, I think it kept the cast cleaner since he would drop food, drinks, or other messes on the sock instead of his actual cast

Buy Bigger Underwear

We just happened to start potty training Major a week before his leg was broken.  So we had the divine pleasure of potty training and healing a broken leg at the same time.  Where’s my eyeroll emoji? Aaaanyway, getting underwear up and down “in a hurry” over a bulky cast that went up to Major’s hip, was not fun.  I bought his some boxer short style underwear after the first week, which made everything much easier!

Pull Out All The Screens

Having Major immobile and grouchy for the first month of Summer was a total bummer.  He had to watch his sister at barbecues and pool parties every weekend, and I felt absolutely horrible for him.  I gave him unlimited iPad time or movies whenever big sis got to do something extra fun, and I think it made him feel special and less grumpy.  I also downloaded a bunch of reading, learning, and math type games and so I felt less guilty about it!

Get A Wagon!

We ended up pulling Major around in a wagon in the house about 70% of the time.  It was a lifesaver! We loved this soft sided one because the sides zipped down to let him sit with his leg over the edge if he ever wanted to.  We used a pillow under his leg for comfort, and a blanket under the small of his back.  It was so much easier than carrying him around every single time we had to bring him to another space.  I highly recommend investing in a wagon that stays indoors at all times while the cast is on so dirt isn’t tracked inside! 

Be Emotionally Prepared For The Cast Removal

Thank goodness my friends who had been through broken legs with small kids before reached out to warn me before he got his cast removed.  They told me not to get freaked out if he didn’t walk…for weeks.  Before his leg break, Major was honestly more agile and more coordinated on his legs than Marlowe is.  He was jumping all around, loving gym class, running, and tumbling.  When he got his cast off, he refused to walk for almost two weeks, and would cry every time we tried to get him to put a little pressure on it.  It freaked us out so much, and I was so worried that this break had really changed his capabilities permanently.  I ended up taking him to a pediatric chiropractor at the end of week two sans cast, and she was able to make some adjustments to help him feel more comfortable on his leg.  After having that heavy cast on, his body and muscles had tensed up to overcompensate and he was just totally out of whack.  He started walking again after his first appointment, and I plan to take him back again next week since he still walks with a pronounced limp.  I am looking in to physical therapy as well! 

Book A Massage For You

Whether is a nice little massage chair at the manicure place or a full body massage at the spa, trust me you will need a massage once the cast is off! My back and neck were both thrown out so badly from carrying the extra weight from the cast, and needing to carry him so often.  If you regularly get acupuncture or see a chiropractor, I’m sure that would help as well! 

Those are my best tips for surviving a real bummer of a situation– but please add to the list if you have any tips to share! I’m sure people visiting this post will really appreciate it!

Eva Amurri Martino's son major goofs around in a leg cast

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Photographs by Julia Dags

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10 Comments

  1. Melissa says:

    Thanks for sharing! You always have helpful tips for the little ones. My son is recent potty trained and we are heading on vacation in a couple weeks and I am getting stressed about airports, public bathrooms, etc. Would love if you shared some tips on how you managed this with Major on your recent trip! Thanks as always 🙂

    07.15.19 Reply
    • Lots of reminding is the key! Go after meals, and before getting on the plane, at a minimum. Also pack lots of extra underwear and pants!

      07.19.19 Reply
  2. Mary says:

    It is so sad that sweet Major had to go through all this pain and inconvenience.I wish he recovers totally in a very short time.💕I admired that you managed to remain calm from the beginning and handle the situation without unnecessary drama and also that you tried to continue your life as a family with your usual and planned activities which I believe helped Major to feel better.And you didn’t postpone potty training through all this freaking devastating situation ? God, it blows my mind, really!!!

    07.15.19 Reply
  3. Andrea says:

    Oh my goodness! Poor sweet Major!
    I knew trampolines were dangerous for the obvious reasons but no idea that they were particularly dangerous in general for little kid’s bones. Physical therapy is a terrific idea. Little kids bounce back quickly but making double sure everything is in order is excellent foresight. Thank you for posting the tips! No more trampoline parks & bounce houses for us

    07.19.19 Reply
    • Yes! It takes them so long to recover too, poor things!

      07.19.19 Reply
  4. kirsten says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I had been letting my daughter (same age as Major) go to Toddler time at one of the local trampoline places, not realizing how easy it is for them to get hurt. She won’t be going anymore.

    07.19.19 Reply
    • Yes!! Glad to hear this, it freaks me out so much now!

      07.19.19 Reply
  5. Suzie says:

    Wow-what a trooper that little boy is! What a bummer to start summer that way. Glad he is on the mend! And congratulations to you mama for getting through this too!

    Did he stay potty trained through all this? Any tips on potty training boys? Also can you recommend any of the educational apps you allowed him to have on his iPad? Always looking for good ones.

    07.20.19 Reply
  6. Aleks says:

    So sorry to hear about Major’s accident, especially the freak way it happened! Do you know if the recommendations against trampolines apply to bouncy houses as well? We have an indoor one and it’s the bane of our existence lately…

    07.28.19 Reply