How to Make a Splint - Joy Through Chaos

How to Make a Splint

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mom tending to injured childYour kids are playing nicely and all of the sudden you hear blood-curdling shrieks. Immediately you think someone has lost a limb or the monster in the closet has taken a child back to Monstropolis. Ok, maybe I’m the only one that thinks the second one is possible, but when your kids start screaming one million horrific thoughts start cycling through your head as you race to your kids. What’s far more likely than getting a visit to see Sully and Mike is that your child has an orthopedic injury to one of their extremities and you’ll need to quickly assess the injury and make a splint.

If the thought of needing to make a splint and taking your child makes your heart start pumping and your palms get sweaty, keep reading. It’s not bad, I promise.

Before You Make a Splint

Before you bust out all of the craft supplies and make a perfectly bedazzled splint, take a moment and do a quick assessment.

Quick Assessment

These steps will help you decide if your child is really injured or if the cries are mainly because their sibling took the toy they wanted (you know what I’m talking about).

  1. How is the child holding the extremity? If they’re keeping the body part tightly against their body or if it’s laying on the floor and the child is afraid to move it, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with an orthopedic injury.
  2. Is the child unwilling to move the body part? Our body is intuitive. If your kid doesn’t want to move the injured extremity, it’s for a reason. Trust their body.
  3. Does anything look weird? Quickly scan the body part to see if it is oriented the right way. You’ll know immediately if fingers or legs are pointing the wrong way.

This is the part where someone will say ‘well how do I know if it’s broken or if it’s just a sprain’? Quite honestly, you don’t. Unless you’re blessed with x-ray vision, there’s no way to know for certain that your child has a broken bone. Do the quick assessment I’ve outlined, and if two of the three things are present, you need to make a splint and get to the doctor. Yes, it is that simple.

Whether the body part is broken or sprained has no impact on how you manage the injury at home. Do you hear me? A sprain and a broken bone are treated the same way when you are triaging the injury at home. 

Signs and Symptoms of Broken Bones in Kids

  • Pain or swelling in the injured area
  • Visible deformity in the injured area
  • Difficulty using or moving the injured area in a normal manner
  • Inability to bear weight on a lower extremity

Signs and Symptoms of Sprains in Kids

  • Pain or swelling in the injured area
  • Visible deformity in the injured area
  • Difficulty using or moving the injured area in a normal manner
  • Inability to bear weight on a lower extremity

Are you thinking, ‘Wait? Those are the same things.’?

The signs and symptoms of a fracture and a sprain are the same which is why the triage at home is the same regardless of if what the injury is.

When to Splint

Now that we know what to look for, we need to chat about when you should apply a splint. This part is straightforward:

Anytime your child has an injury and does not want to move the body part you need to make a splint. Better safe than sorry.

See. Simple, right?

Exactly what to do when your child has an orthopedic injury to one of their extremities and you need to quickly assess the injury and make a splint.

How to Make a Splint

I promise splinting seems scary. It’s simple. Well, in theory anyway because anytime children are involved, nothing is simple.

Gather Supplies

Quickly get your supplies together. Splints can be made from anything rigid and supportive. A cardboard box, Pringles can, or even a stick from the backyard can be used to make a splint. You’re looking for anything that is firm enough to support the injured body part and prevent your kid from moving it.

You’ll also need something to hold the splint to the child. So, scarves, ace wraps, and even bandanas can be used to keep the splint in place. You can use duct tape, just not directly against the skin.

Position the Splint

Stabilize the injury as soon as it happens by keeping the injured limb in the same position. Those are fancy words that mean DO NOT MOVE THE BODY PART. Splint the area in the position you find it.

A basic rule of splinting is that the joint above and below the broken bone should be immobilized to protect the fracture site. In plain English, you’ll want to make sure that the splint is long enough to span two joints. So, if you’re splinting the wrist, your splint should cover the hand all the way until the forearm.

When to Call 911

  • Seek medical care immediately if your child displays any of the symptoms of a fracture.
  • Do not move your child and call 911 immediately if the bone exits or is exposed through the skin.

If you choose to drive to the doctor’s office or emergency room, putting your kid in a car seat with a splint can be tricky, here are a few suggestions to make it less weird:

  • Use lots of pillows or rolled towels to prop up the body part.
  • Remove seats from the vehicle if you need to. This is more practical for minivans- take out the center row and place the child in the back row. You’ll have more room for a splinted leg without the middle seats.

Your goal here is to strap your kid into their car seat and then get creative and figure out a way to support the splinted body part while driving.


Ok,  quick, here’s what you should take away:

  • How to complete a rapid assessment
  • When to make a splint
  • How to make a splint

Yep. It’s that straightforward.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever had to make a splint from?

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Until Next time! Chrissie

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