Toddler Headaches

Updated on August 13, 2010
M.K. asks from Liverpool, NY
10 answers

My daughter about 3-4 times a week lately has told me she has a headache, I have narrowed it down to 90% us being in the car. I don't know if she is bored/mimicking adults saying they have headaches because she will say it, but not really be upset about it. When I ask her where it hurts she points to a different spot everytime. She forgets about the headache quite quickly also.

My question is, any advice on how to tell if she actually has a headache? Her 4 year old check up should be in about 2-3 weeks. Is this too long to wait to see a doctor? Basically I am just looking for some what would you do advice.

I know how horrible toddler headaches can be, a child very close to me died at age 6 a couple years back and it all started with headaches at age 3, so I am aware of this, it just doesn't seem like the same scenario at all. I of course, have this stuck in my head though and don't know if I am making too big of a deal about it because of this.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all your words of wisdom :), she has an appt for Monday morning because the specialist at her office that deals with this is out all week. Will let you all know :)

More Answers



answers from New York on

M....she might be getting car sick. My daughter gets headaches in the car or she might be having an allergy headache. I would ask your doctor about it when you go for her check up. If you feel that the headaches are getting worse before your next appointment, then call the dr. earlier.

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answers from New York on

It wouldn't hurt anything to call the pediatrician and describe the complaint. Worst case scenario... $15 copay. I would suggest keeping a notebook and jotting down the basic info each time she mentions the headache- date, time of day, location on her head, what you were doing, etc.

She could be motion sick and experiencing dizziness. Depending on what words she knows, she may be saying that she has a headache b/c she has heard the word, but she's actually dizzy. She could also be dehydrated. I have always gotten a headache the minute I start to dehydrate.

I would call the doctor. They may send her for some tests, but at least you will have some answers!

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answers from New York on

I wouldnt wait - personally I would be at the ped asap if my son was complaining about headaches.

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answers from New York on

to make you feel better I would go to the dr. . just to put your mind at ease.. Also play a type of game with your little one.. like say wow, I have a lip ache.. did you ever have that.. next time.. say i have a cheek ache.. or hand ache.. see if she will start saying the same things.. it sounds like if the pain is moving.. it probably isn't anything.. usually a problem.. like sinus.. would be in the same place.. or something terrible.. again.. it would be in the same place.. the pain wouldn't move.. so It sounds like she is saying it.. and as .you say it goes away quickly.. but good luck

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answers from New York on

Hello M.,

Unfortunately, I have has some issues with headaches with one of my children. But, she was 13 at the time and this was in 2006.

She'd had headaches almost daily for a few months and took 1 ibuprofen daily to aleviate any pain, and that worked.

The headaches started in June, and was dismissed as stress. We had alot going on; I was expecting a new baby, we were moving about 2 1/2 hours away from our home, going to a new school for 3 of them (her older sister and younger brother), possibly her sister moving to her father's house and leaving us, and she was at her grandparents for a couple weeks without me, while I was setting up our new home.

When I had all of my children with me again, her headaches stopped for a few weeks, but came back. They would come daily for a couple weeks and go away again for a couple weeks.

Things didn't work out with the new home and we decided to move back to our home area. We rented a house, baby still on the way, she was on her way back to her old school, her sister was staying with us. Things were looking good and the headaches stopped.

Again, we wrote it off as stress. When I took her for a checkup with her doctor, we did mention the headaches and he wasnt too concerned, but told me to try to monitor them and if they came back or got worse, he would send her for a CT scan.

We didn't have that chance, because when they came back, within a couple days, she woke up in terrible pain and began vomiting. I had a neighbor take her to the ER, while I went to work (2 hours), and got the new baby taken care of for the morning - she was only 3 1/2 weeks old and this occurred in November. I was also expecting the ER to take hours to even see her, much less test her and get results - I only worked 1 hour before I had someone else finish my job for the morning. I met them at the hospital and got the news.

We were told that she had a brain tumor in the cerabellum - at the base of the skull, about the size of a golf ball. We went to a Children's hospital - CHOP - and she was in surgery the next afternoon. The entire tumor was removed successfully. While she was recovering, I was told the tumor was cancerous and she would have to undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy for 6 weeks and 6 1/2 weeks, then chemo monthly for a year. Her chemo was in pill form.

Then we got the good news. She was in remission!! Thank God! and everyone who prayed for us and helped us throughout.

She is 16 now, in high school - a junior, and still no signs of cancer.

If there is any thought in your mind that your daughter may be telling the truth about having headaches - do mention it to your pediatrician. Try to monitor them; when, where, what she is doing. I know, you stated that it usually happens in the car.

Perhaps she is just prone to motion sickness. Her doctor may suggest something for that. I used bracelets for my daughter, they had plastic pieces that put pressure on pressure points in the wrist. They worked well for her, but only when she was in the car. They didn't work for the nausea caused by chemo.

Good luck and never be afraid to ask your doctor for a scan if you think the headaches are real or if they continue.

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answers from Utica on

Hi M.
sorry your daughter is having headaches.
At 4 some of mine would have and some would not have known that head aches are in your head, and stomach aches are in your stomach, I had to make sure what they were talking about.
If I was convinced that my 4 year old was having headaches, I would call the MD, and tell him when you have a scheduled appt and did they think this was something that could wait or should you take an emergency appt, being sure I had ready info on how many headaches, and how long they lasted etc.
Have you thought about glasses? Have you thought about car sickness? sometimes brought on by a need for glasses. I can only imagine the reaction she got the first time she had a headache after having such tragedy so close. Does your daughter know about that tragedy and is she scared?
One of mine has a friend that had blindness as a side effect when she got her monthly. It scared my daughter to not want a monthly. Just thought you might think about that.
God bless you and give you wisdom as you deal with this

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answers from Jamestown on

Have you gotten her eyes checked lately? Sometimes headaches are caused by needed glasses.

Just a thought.

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answers from New York on

My son did this as well. He started saying he had a headache when he was 4 1/2 years old. I did the same thing you did - where does it hurt?, do I believe him, etc. I finally asked the pediatrition about it when he was 5 because he was complaining at scholl about them. The doctor said to writed down whenever he had a headache. Think about what he did or ate just before. They were trying to distinguish the frequency and try to figure out what was triguring them. They also said to give him ibuprofen and record how long it took for that to help. I never could figure out what was causing them and the ibuprofen never helped out either. He would complain and then 5 minutes later be up and running around. He finally has stopped complaining about them so who knows what it was. Maybe growing pains ?

I would mention it to the pediatrician and in the mean time try to figure out on your own what is triguring them.




answers from Boca Raton on

What ended up happening with your daughter and her headaches? My daughter is almost 4 and is doing the exact same thing. About 3-4 times a week she is also complaining of headaches in the front of her head. Like your daughter, 90% of the time it is when we are in the car. We have a MRI scheduled for Monday.. What was the problem with you daughter?? Thanks.



answers from New York on

M. --

My DS suffered with headaches and then migraines for years, starting at about age 4 or 5. We kept a food diary to try to find the trigger. Turns out his trigger was that he's hypoglycemic - in fact it's the # 1 cause of migraines.

We changed his diet and he's never had a headache or migraine since.

Best of health,