advice

calm in a crisis:
first aid for children

mother holding her baby

Accidents happen, especially with little ones around, and knowing a bit of first aid for children makes coping with an emergency much easier. If you feel like you can't deal with the injury yourself, always phone 999.

falls and bumps

Children are always falling and hurting themselves, no matter how careful their parents are. If your child falls, there are a few things to check:

  • are they conscious?
  • are they breathing?
  • are they bleeding?
  • do they have any broken bones?

If they've stopped breathing, give them mouth-to-mouth and call 999. If your child bangs their head you should see a doctor or go to A&E if:

  • they become unconscious (even if it's only for a few seconds)
  • they throw up
  • they go all floppy

cuts and bleeding

Some parts of the body, like the side of the head, bleed a lot even if the cut isn't very deep.

  • always wash your hands before dealing with a cut
  • rinse the area with cold water to check how deep it is
  • if it's shallow, dry it with sterile gauze and then cover it with a plaster
  • if it's deep, press a sterile dressing pad firmly onto it to stop the bleeding, then put some more dressing on top
  • phone your GP or 999, depending on how serious it looks

choking and suffocation

If your child is choking and can't talk, breathe or cry, they'll become unconscious if you don't act fast.

  • give your child five hard blows between the shoulder blades
  • if the thing that's choking them doesn't fly out of their mouth, give them up to five abdominal thrusts
  • if none of this works, phone 999 and keep trying to get rid of the obstruction

With babies, the moves are a bit gentler. Lie them across your forearm and thrust with the side of your hand between the shoulder-blades (a bit like a karate chop).

mouth-to-mouth

It's important to do this as soon as possible after the child has stopped breathing.

  • Get someone to call 999 while you give five rescue breaths. With their head tilted, take a big breath and cover your baby's mouth and nose with your mouth to make a seal with your lips if the child is under one, or cover their mouth and pinch their nostrils closed if they're a bit bigger.
  • Next, use two fingers to give 30 chest compressions.
  • Give another two rescue breaths, then repeat the process until help arrives.

scalds and burns

If it's a minor burn, for example they've touched a hot hob:

  • run the burned area under cool water for at least 20 minutes
  • after the burn has cooled, cover with cling film or a clean plastic bag
  • phone the doctor

If your child has caught fire, wrap them in a blanket and roll them on the ground to put out the flames. Don't try to take off any clothes that have stuck to the burnt area, and phone 999 right away.

bites and stings

Wasp and bee stings are more common during summer, when your little ones are eating sugary treats in the garden.

  • scrape the sting out with your fingernail (if you pinch it or use tweezers it can squeeze more venom into the wound)
  • wash the area with soap and water
  • soak a flannel in cold water and press it over the area, then keep it raised if possible to stop swelling
  • clip your child's fingernails so they can't scratch the area and cause infection

poisoning

If your child has eaten or drank something they shouldn't have, like a cleaning product, don't try to make them sick. This can make it worse. Go straight to the doctor or hospital (whichever is nearest), armed with the container so that they know what to do.

when to call in the experts

You should phone 999 and ask for an ambulance if:

  • your child stops breathing or turns blue
  • they don't respond and don't seem aware of what's happening around them
  • their eyes are glazed and unfocused
  • they have a broken bone or any other internal injury
  • they can't be woken up

For more help, check these first aid websites

These charities run short baby and child first aid courses throughout the UK.