36 answers

Lump in Toddler's Neck

I recently discovered at small lump in my 21-month-old's neck (near the corner of his jaw). The pediatrician said to bring him back in a month - and in the mean time we're supposed to feel the lump every few days to make sure it's not growing, and to make sure there are no more. I'm totally freaking out!! I can only imagine the worst, and I don't know why he has this. Has anyone else gone through this??

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

So it's been about 2 weeks, I'm still "waiting it out". At our initial appt. w/the doc, she said she was "happy" with how the lump felt and to wait the month out. So 2 weeks to go. There's no change in it. No tenderness, we don't have a cat either! He's only had 2 slight colds in his life so far. He did have a runny nose when we took him in, but it's long since gone away. More to come...

Featured Answers

I had that happen with one of mine years back, sounds like a similar spot.It was a swollen lymph node, his body was doing its' job and fighting infection. It lasted a while. Don't worry to much- it's probably that with all of the illness going around.

I wouldn't worry too much just yet. I know that there are all kinds of fatty lumpy tissues that can appear on the neck and head area. They do go away in time. Just pay attention to it and if it doesn't change and if it seems to be softer and moves a little, I would bet that that's all it is.
Good luck!

They are usually inflames lymphnodes which is caused by some sort of infection. He may need antibiotics.

More Answers

Dear B.,

Unfreak, and take him back in exactly a month with a full report of what you have noted over this past month.

Your tension won't do any good for the whole family. Relax and enjoy this month.

C. N.

I am a Massage Therapist with specialized training in lymphatic drainage.
I would massage his neck in small circles, pushing the lymph from the jaw line towards his torso. Once you reach the belly you can do circles clockwise around the belly. Focus on the front of the neck on either side. Be gentle and careful. Image that you are pulling the lymph down the neck. Lymph is only moved through exercise or massage. The lymph system is like the sanitation department for your body. It needs to keep circulating in order to 'take out the trash.' The lymph nodes swell when they get are getting overloaded with toxins/pathogens. Either the lymph needs to circulate more and/or the input of toxins need to be reduced. He may be allergic to some foods that are causing his lymph system to work harder. You may use non-organic foods that are filled with pesticides, hormones,and the such. He may be exposed to dangerous chemicals in his shampoo, body wash, bubble bath, etc. All of these things cause the lymphtic system to work harder trying to clean his system out.

I wouldn't worry too much just yet. I know that there are all kinds of fatty lumpy tissues that can appear on the neck and head area. They do go away in time. Just pay attention to it and if it doesn't change and if it seems to be softer and moves a little, I would bet that that's all it is.
Good luck!

My son (3 years old at the time) had the same thing. Took him to the pediatrician, said the same thing, come back in one month. About 2 weeks later, had to take him to urgent care for an ear infection, the doctor there noticed the lump, and drew blood to check for Cat Scratch disease. Guess what, it came back positive!!!! We don't even have cats! It can come from a bite, scratch, or even lick from a cat, usually a kitten. It is very common in children who have recently acquired a kitten. After a course of antibiotics (just in case) it went away on it's own. Sounds terrible, but I guess it is fairly common!!

Personally, I would take your son to an ENT first thing next week to have it checked out. I had a lump under my jaw that I waited 6 months to check out and I wish I had gone sooner. Of course it is probably nothing, but if it will make you feel better you should do it.

S. G

First of all, don't freak out. My son got a huge lump around his right nipple and I about lost it. I was thinking it was a tumor. Apparently, there are a multitude of glands in the body. I never realized how many there really were in the body.
I was worried because his lump was tender to the touch and not in his armpit. In my reading I never saw a gland in the nipple area. My doctor said the same as yours... wait a month.
It turns out, he had a rash down on his tummy. The doctor said that infections in other parts of the body could trigger an inflammation in a nearby gland.
Is your son's lump tender? That is actually a good sign says my doctor. Does your son have a sore throat or any other infection or sickness that could trigger it?
It took about a month for my son's lump to go away, but now he is just fine.
I hope this helps. :) -Sandi

My son had same thing 2 weeks ago. We took him to an urgent care doctor who told us that it is just nothing. But the lymph m\node behind his neck continued to grow overnight and we took him to our own pediatrician. He ordered a blood test to rule out cancer, and put him on antibiotics. He started to improve in 3-4 days, and now the swelling is almost gone. But if I wer you, I would insist that at least a complete blood test be done.

My son had (and still has) the little lump, his was right in the middle of his neck on both sides between his ear. I worried then too but like so many others have told you, our pediatrician looked at it and said lymph node. If it doesn't move, if it's incredibly hard or if it gets bigger, then get him to the doc ASAP. But if it doesn't do any of those things, stop worrying and just go back to the doc in a month.
Now with my daughter, I noticed similiar lumps (they felt exactly the same too) one underneath each ear only higher on her neck. I knew from my previous experience that they were probably lymph nodes but I asked the doctor at our last appointment anyway (but did not make a special appointment this time). I also asked my friend who's an RN to feel them too. Again I got the same advice I got 11 years ago that they were just swollen lymph nodes.
I'll bet if you feel around in the same area on the other side of your sons neck, you'll find another one too. (they always came in matching sets :)
I know you're worried. We all hear about finding a lump and lumps being cancer and so we worry. But I really don't think you have to just keep an eye on it.

Hi! Same thing here and most likely it fatty tissue like ours was and he will out grow it, I was told I had rich breast milk and that was why the fatty tissue, maybe not your case but wish you all the best. God bless.

They are usually inflames lymphnodes which is caused by some sort of infection. He may need antibiotics.

Yep, my son has the same thing, and has had for well over a year. We actually went to see a specialist and they basically told us the same thing, if it's not changing, don't worry.

They are sure it's a lymph node that's inflammed, which means it gets worse when he's sick. Otherwise, it has not changed and the options are sooo invasive, we've chosen to wait and watch. If it changed at all (besides the sick thing), we would immediately take action.

But for now, he has no other symtoms and seems fine, so we stopped worry a long time ago. I even forget he has it sometimes, until he turns his head a certain way...

I hope the same is true for you and you too will soon be resting easy. Best of luck to you.

My first son had a lump like that & it was just a lymph node. I freaked, too! But I have a very good, trustworthy doctor, who is always willing to take me seriously & reassure me when I panic over nothing. If you don't feel as confident in your doctor as I do in mine, I would look for another doctor. I have three little kids now, and I can not imagine trying to raise them without the help & advice of their doctor.

We had the same thing with our 8 month daughter. We first noticed it at her 6 month appt. The doctor was not phased by it - said it is normal. Swollen lymph nodes often happen due to cradle cap. We didn't see signs of cradle cap at that time, but he told us to not worry.

We keep an eye on it, but I have actually forgotten about it and should probably check it out again.

Good luck - I am sure it just your little man's immune system doing its job!

Best wishes,

I had something similar happen to me a few weeks ago. I discovered a small lump on my neck (near my jaw in the soft part of your neck) and it was sore to the touch. I was really scared, and went to the doctor. He said it was a blocked saliva gland. His suggestion was to eat or suck on very sour things such as citrus fruits or sour hard candy to stimulate the saliva glands. It sounded weird to me, but I did it and within 2 days the soreness and the swelling was gone. I hope this helps!

Our daughter has a similar lump on the back of her neck. According to our doctor we have lymph nodes all over our bodies and sometimes, in babies, they can swell up. He did take it seriously and checked it out, but told us that as long as the lump is nice and round and can be moved when you massage it, we shouldn't be too worried. It's when it grows and becomes irregularly-shaped, hard and anchored that we should become concerned as it could be indications of a tumor.

Do not accept the whole-let's wait and see BS! Push for a scan of the area immediately! It is not fair for you and your family to worry yourself sick!! Afterall it may be nothing, but at the same time it could be very serious. My kids are 9 and 7 and I've learned YOU tell the Dr what you want and usually they will do it! Afterall, they are OUR children. Push for a full workup. I personally have experienced childhood cancer with a neighbor's child. He was born with a small bump on his nose (which evidentally is a quick spreading cancer for they type he had)and his parents asked about it at every checkup and the Dr said let's watch it and see what happens! By 18 months old the Dr finally became concerned enough to do an exploratory surgey and sure enough it was cancer. They had a long battle of Chemo and remission but in the end they tragically lost him at age 4. Obviously this is the worst case but proves to you to follow your motherly instinct. Get it checked out now.

go to a specialist, an oncologist or anyone who knows about lymphoma to make sure do blood tests.

I have a son who had cancer last year lymphoma now he is fine he had his bone marrow transplant in November still
recuperating but doing great thanks to pray and juicing.

The lymph nodes are part of our immune defense. Along each side of the neck/jaw, in our armpits, and in that crease wear the leg attaches to the torso (called the inguinal crease), and a few other places way inside our bodies. We are all unknowingly (most of the time) fighting some kind of antigen (a bacterium, virus,venom from bites). The littler our bodies are, the more obvious lymph nodes become when they are swollen. Because the lymph nodes do the work they do, it is prudent to monitor swollen lymph nodes. As one of your respondents mentioned, a "normal" swollen node is soft, and moves and it doesn't grow. The thing about lymph nodes that have swollen (this per our pediatrician) is that they will stay large for along time (forever?) because once they have stretched, they don't readily shrink. Again, as your son grows, a healthy, enlarged lymph node will shrink relative to his body size and it will become unnoticeable (unless maybe, to his vigilant mom!). It's great that you and the Doc are aware and it's great that you are palpating it (feeling it) every day. It's also important to not let worry cause you to overreact (I know. That's hard, we had the same thing with our son, and I'm a nurse!) But it's probably just your son's healthy immune system at work. Feel that lump every day, decide whether it has changed and then let it go until the next day.I'll be sending good energy your way.

HI, my daughter had the same thing when she was a couple months old. My Dr. was not too concerned either but he did have me go to a specialist to confirm. We were told it was just a lymph node and to make sure it wasn't growing. It eventually went away, but I would get a second opinion just in case it is something serious.
Good Luck

Hi B.~

I just wanted to tell you that I went through the same thing. I found a lump on my Son's thigh. I went to the Dr. immediately. They then sent us for an ultrasound. It turned out to just be a lymphatic cyst. He still has it and we also have been told to keep an eye on it. Most times the body will just absorb them. They can be removed but it is a surgery so they suggest just waiting to see if it resolves itself. I know it is useless to say this, but try not to worry. Hopefully it is just something like this and everything will be just fine! Good Luck.

When I was a preschool teacher, I had a child in my class that had a lump on his neck. His mother did take him to the doctor and they did remove the lump. He was just fine after. Definitately let the doctor's do what they need to for the benefit of your child.

My son had a similar lump on his neck when he was about 2 months old. The doctor treated it very seriously and sent us in for testing. I believe it turned out to be a cyst or a lymph node that eventually went away (he's 22 now so I don't remember all the details). It was very scary at the time. Take your doctors advice and keep an eye on it and let them know if anything changes.

I'd be freaking out too! I wouldn't be happy with this wait and see in a month approach. I'd be demanding something more be done.... refer to a specialist, have an ultrasound, have a biopsy, something!!! It could be nothing and then you'd feel better instead of freaking for a month. It could be something, and in a month could be a lot worse! If you have a HMO, it's not in the Dr's financial interest to order costly tests. So, you may have to demand what you deserve!

I can relate to your experience. My son still have the same thing. We were told to watch it also. It turned out to be what the doctors called a roaming lymph node. It moves around. But it was not harmful, and he never complained that it hurt. So take the doctor's advice. But as a mom, I know that waiting isn't easy. If you aren't satisfied with the doctors advise, get a scan. Good Luck

When my daughters were little they had a small lump in the same place. They inherited it from their dad's side of the family. It usually came up when they would have an ear infection, it's called a kernel. I took them to the doctor and the meds he gave them didn't help and he would dig in their ears until he made them bleed, so I had to use an oil called "sweet oil" from Wal-Marts. I would warm it and put a few drops in their ears. Later the harden wax would come out on it's own. My daughters are grown with children of their own that has the same thing.

Listen to your pediatrician, but try not to worry. Watch to see if your baby has an ear infection and/or a sore throat. It usually follows the kernel. Hope this helps.


My sister had this when she was an infant. My mom says she was freaking out too (who wouldn't?) but they wound up doing a byopsy and it was nothing. Today my sister is a healthy, productive 34 Y/O woman :) I know this isn't a lot of info. but I hope it offers you some comfort, and I hope it turns out to be "nothing" for your beautiful son.

Hi B.,

My oldest son, who is now 29 (!), had the same type of thing when he was around that age. Question ... do you have a cat? His lump was caused from "cat scratch fever" ... yes, it IS more than just a song! To my knowledge he wasn't scratched by our cat, but it was caused by being around one. Anyway, it did go away on it's own. Just a thought. I know with first borns every thing can be scary! Try not to worry too much :)

I had that happen with one of mine years back, sounds like a similar spot.It was a swollen lymph node, his body was doing its' job and fighting infection. It lasted a while. Don't worry to much- it's probably that with all of the illness going around.

My daughter had a small lump on her chest that I noticed from about 5 months old, I noticed it growing so I took her to Childrens hospital of Los Angeles when she was abiiut a year old. The peditician there examining her and said it had to be watched for a month and then to bring her back, they then took x-rays and other tests, after another month the doctor decied to cut it out of her chest and said would have a biopsy done. The main reason the doctor wanted to remove it so it would not casue a larger scar in the middle of her chest -especially becasue she was a girl and might have casued her self esteem issues where it was located. I was mortified. After sugery the doctor said she didn't think it was cancerous but when she was growing in my womb,it may have been some cells that didn't move around and just grew into tissue causing a lump...it turned out to be just fatty tissue. I also am aware of a friend who had this near his jaw bone and his mother just ignored it until he was 9 yrs old! It turned out to be the same thing. So just say a prayer and believe that your baby will be fine. More than likely it may just be fatty tissue and that it can be removed just causing a small scar-my prayers are with you and your child.

I know that others have said this also, but my son had the same thing and our doc said it was just a lymph node and nothing to worry about. We first noticed it when he was about two, and can still see it once in a while, usually when he is asleep somewhere like the car seat and his head is to the side. Definitely check it out, but I wouldn't get too worried until there's a reason to be (I know easier said than done! :) ) Good luck!!

Hi I recommend taking him to a Chiropractor, I work for one (20 years) and have a 5 year old. Over the years I have seen many things and a lump can be from a mis-aligned bone in his neck. At his age it usually stems from the birth process. In our practice we see newborns, toddlers and up. My own son gets adjusted and is extremely healthy because of it. Just a suggestion. Any questions, please feel free to ask.


I think my 4-year-old has the same thing. When I brought it up to my ped, he said that they were lymph nodes and that they are usually swollen when fighting something. I feel them all the time, so, I am concerned just as much as you. I am curious to what answers you get. check out this website, specifically the picture of lymph nodes of the neck: http://www.acm.uiuc.edu/sigbio/project/updated-lymphatic/...

I think you need to insist that your doctor immediately examn the lump. You do not want to wait for month to see if this lump grows or others appear in your child's body. I had a similar experience with my son-in-law - by the time they examined him the lump (which was concerous) had grown and the cancer had spread elsewhere. It may be that this is not a serious problem, and I certainly hope it is not. However, I do not think it is appropriate for a doctor to tell you to check and see if more appear!

Is this lump in his lymph node? The reason I ask is that my nephew who is 4 now had a lump in his neck at 18 months of age. He ran a fever with this too and it turned out to grow larger and larger to the size of a small golf ball. This turned out to be a staff infection. After a few surgeries and a lot of antibiotics he was healed and it never returned. Make sure that your son has no other symptoms. If he does and this continues to grow go to the doctor and demand them to look further into it. Good luck. . .

get a second opinion immediatetly!!! It could be a lymph node. I could not only feel my son's his entire life but you could also see them. He was a very skinny child. Did not care for food so much. Now, even though he's 28,(and a vegan) I can still feel the lymph nodes (especially at the back of his neck). But, just to be sure, I would get a second opinion. that's just me.

Hi B.,

My little boy - two and a half - also had a lump in his neck (it still has not gone down completely after two months) Our paediatrician said it was a swollen lymph node which is a sign that his immune system is working and his body is defending itself, very common when at pre-school and during the winter months with all the colds going around.
If this is the case and as normal as she made it sound I am suprised that your paediatrician didn't mention that to you.
I may go back in and have her check him out again as I am slightly concerned that it hasn't gone down entirely.
If you mention this to your paediatrician I would be interested to know what he/she says.
Incidentally there was another little boy at louis school who had a lump, a rash on his face and a fever and her Doctor said it was a virus and gave him medicine and it was gone in three days ?
Hmmm - keep us posted and I'll let you know anything I come up with.
All the best, O.

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