Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Toddler Has Unusual Lump

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Henry Bernstein, M.D.

Q: My two-year-old daughter has a lump in the back of her head, close to her ear. It was there from birth. I spoke to her doctor about it and was told it was fine. However, she still has that lump in the back of her neck. What should I do?

A: Parents frequently feel a pea-sized lump or two in the back of the head or neck in their healthy young child. Most often these are normal lymph nodes -- "glands" that we all have in various parts of our bodies. These can get bigger associated with an infection in the same area. For example, you are probably familiar with swollen glands in the neck from a throat infection that do get smaller after the infection is treated.

From what you have described, your daughter's lump is probably just a normal "gland." It has always been there, sounds like it doesn't bother her, it's not sore, and it's not changing or getting bigger. Parents also sometimes think about cancer when these lumps are first felt. In otherwise healthy, growing children, that is extremely rare, so blood tests and biopsies aren't routinely recommended.

I suggest not doing anything special. Watch for any significant changes in size or if it is associated with some local infection. Otherwise, simply ask your pediatrician to check it from time to time with her regular well checks for continued reassurance.

More on: Expert Advice

Henry Bernstein, M.D., is currently the associate chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of Primary Care at Children's Hospital, Boston. He also has an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


10 Best Creative Apps for Kids
Looking for apps that foster creativity? Check out these top-rated art and music apps for kids.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

A New Intergalactic Reading Adventure!
Get your reluctant reader hooked on an irresistible new story, Galactic Hot Dogs! Join the Book 1 reading marathon, and get behind-the-scenes tidbits on the official Galactic Hot Dogs blog. Also, print this cool Galactic Hot Dogs reading log to keep your bookworm excited about reading!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks