First aid babies and children man running a baby's arm under a cold tap

First aid for babies and children

31st October 2017

The British Red Cross talks to My Family, Our Needs about why first aid for babies and children is so important and shares first aid advice to help you build your knowledge in case you ever need to use it.

All parents experience it – that panic that passes over you when your child is hurt. By learning simple first aid skills, you’ll know what to do in an emergency and gain the confidence to respond to the situation.

First aid is an essential skill for any parent, grandparent or any family member who cares for a baby or child. In fact, research by Opinium shows that 65% of new parents wished they had learnt first aid before becoming a parent.

By obtaining these skills you will be more confident to deal with an accident or injury should the need arise.

Here’s some advice on what to do in various first aid situations.

Burns

As little ones start to explore they may not understand what is dangerous and what isn’t – whether it’s a toddler reaching up and tipping over a hot drink or a child not realising that the surface they have touched is hot enough to give them a burn. It’s important to stay calm and act quickly when helping a child who has a burn.

1. Cool the burn under cold running water for at least ten minutes.
This will reduce pain, swelling and the risk of scarring. The faster and longer a burn is cooled, the less the impact of the injury.

2. After the burn has been cooled, cover it with cling film or a clean plastic bag.
This helps to keep the area clean and prevent infection. Cling film or a clean plastic bag are ideal as they don’t stick to the burn and can help to reduce pain by keeping the air from getting to the skin.

3. If the burn is severe call 999.
Always seek medical advice for a baby or child who has been burned.

First aid babies and children man running a baby's arm under a cold tap

Choking baby (birth to one)

Young children like to explore their environments by putting things into their mouths and even a new born baby could choke on curdled milk or mucus. If a baby is choking, they won’t be able to cough, cry or breathe.

Here’s the British Red Cross’ advice:

1. Give up to five back blows
Hold them face down along your thigh with their head lower than their bottom. Support their head and hit them firmly on their back between their shoulder blades.

The back blows create a strong vibration and pressure in the airway, which can dislodge the object.

If back blows do not dislodge the object, move onto step two.

First aid babies and children choking baby receiving a back blow

2. Give up to five chest thrusts
Turn the baby over and place two fingers in the middle of their chest just below the nipples. Push sharply downwards.

Chest thrusts squeeze the air out of the baby’s lungs and may dislodge the object.

First aid babies and children choking baby receiving chest thrust

3. Call 999 if the object does not dislodge.
Continue cycles of back blows and chest thrusts until help arrives, the blockage clears or the baby becomes unresponsive.

Choking child

1. Give up to five back blows
Hit them firmly on their back between their shoulder blades.

The back blows create a strong vibration and pressure in the airway, which can dislodge the object.

If back blows do not dislodge the object move onto step two.

First aid babies and children choking child receiving back blow

2. Give up to five abdominal thrusts
Hold the child around their waist and pull inwards and upwards above their belly button.

Abdominal thrusts squeeze the air out of the lungs and may dislodge the object.

First aid babies and children choking child receiving abdominal thrust

3. Call 999 if the object does not dislodge.
Continue cycles of back blows and abdominal thrusts until help arrives, the blockage clears or the child becomes unresponsive.

Everyday first aid items in the home

No first aid kit to hand, no problem; it is amazing the number of regular household items that can be used in a first aid emergency.

  • Milk – you may not always have access to cold running water when treating a burn. In this case, use some other cold liquid such as milk, a soft drink or beer. The aim is to cool the burn as quickly as possible. Remember, the area should be cooled for at least ten minutes.
  • Cling film – can be used to cover a burn once it has been cooled. It is an ideal covering as it does not stick to the burn. It also keeps the burned area clean and because it’s clear, you can continue to monitor the burn without removing the covering.
  • Frozen peas – or other small frozen fruit and vegetables can be used to treat a sprain or a strain. Wrap the peas in a tea towel (or something similar) and place them onto the injury. This will help reduce the pain and swelling.
  • Tea towel or item of clothing – if someone is bleeding heavily from a wound, apply pressure with a tea towel or clothing to stop or slow the flow of blood. Wrap the tea towel around ice or frozen vegetables to create a cold compress to use when treating a head injury.

For more first aid information, My Family, Our Needs has previously explored epilepsy and what to do if a child has a seizure.

The British Red Cross offers public first aid courses at venues across the UK. Designed with parents in mind, it gives you the confidence to help in an emergency situation should you ever need to.

There are also basic first aid resources available on its website and a baby and child first aid app available on Android and Apple. Our Editor in Chief, Emma has the app and finds the videos, tips and quizzes really useful for keeping on top of any emergency situations that may arise. She does love a plan and to be prepared for every eventuality.

With thanks to the British Red Cross.

Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,013 parents with children aged 5 and under.

Children’s first aid – Test your knowledge

Following on from our article with the British Red Cross on first aid techniques for children and babies, would you know what to do in a first aid emergency? Take our quick quiz.

1. You are cooking in the kitchen and you child accidentally burns themselves by touching the hot oven door. What is the first thing you would do?

a) Cool the burn by placing it under cold running water.
b) Use minty toothpaste to cool it.
c) Place cold butter on it to soothe the pain.
d) Put a plaster on it to keep it clean.

2. While sat in the high chair eating, your baby suddenly goes very quiet and looks like they can’t breathe. You think they are choking, what should you do?

a) Hold the baby by the ankles, turn upside down.
b) Give them water and tell them to sip.
c) Give the baby back blows between their shoulder blades.
d) Put your finger into their mouth and feel for the object.

3. While at the park your child accidentally runs into someone holding a hot coffee, they drop the drink which scalds your child’s arm. There is no running water available to cool the burn, what should you do?

a) Walk half an hour to your house then cool the burn there.
b) Blow on your child’s arm.
c) Cover the burn with a carrier bag.
d) Pour the drinks from the picnic over the burn.

Answers
1. The answer is A: Cool the burn as quickly as possible by placing the burn under cold running water for at least ten minutes. Once the burn has been cooled, cover with cling film and seek medical advice.

2. The answer is C: If a baby is choking give up to five back blows between their shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. If this doesn’t dislodge the object then give up to five chest thrusts by placing two fingers in the centre of their chest and pushing firming downwards. Call 999 if the object has not dislodged.

3. The answer is D: It’s very important to cool the burn as quickly as possible for at least ten minutes. Any harmless liquid can be used to cool the burn, such as milk, beer or soft drinks.



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