Essential first aid skills all parents should have

Kids are bundles of energy that bring unbound joy to their parents. Even so (and sometimes because of a bit of overenthusiasm) accidents occur, and parents have to deal with the immediate consequences.


In an emergency, it is always best to contact professional ambulance services to properly assess and treat an injury, but often – as is the case in many emergencies – immediate action is required. This is why there are some first aid skills that every parent should possess.

When a child or baby is choking

Once a baby starts eating solid food, choking is something that is always concerning to parents. Together with food, babies and small children are fond of putting just about anything else that will fit into their mouths (and lots of things that won’t) into them. If the unfortunate instance of choking does occur, there are two different ways to approach it, depending on the age of your child.


If you have a baby or a small toddler who appears to be choking, the first step is to look for something obvious that might be removable with your fingers. If you don’t see anything in your child’s mouth, do not be tempted to stick a finger down their throats to try and pull it out – this might push an object further down.


If you can’t see anything in the mouth, lay the child over your forearm, while supporting the child across your legs and under their chin. Use your hand to firmly give a back blow between the shoulder blades. Check if the blockage has cleared. Give up to five back blows and check if the blockage has cleared between each blow. For babies younger than a year, use up to five firm chest thrusts while holding them with their head lower than their stomach.


The Heimlich manoeuvre can be used for older children. To do this, wrap your arms around the child’s waist, while tipping the child forward slightly. Make a fist with one hand and place it slightly above the child’s navel and below the rib cage. Grasp your fist with your other hand, and press into the child’s abdomen with a quick, upward thrust, as if you’re trying to lift the child up. Perform these thrusts until the blockage has been dislodged.


Children are especially susceptible to burns because their reflexes have not yet developed to such an extent that they immediately pull away from anything that can burn them. Measuring the size of the affected burn area is usually done by using the size of your hand, which makes up roughly 1% of the body. This is why even small burns can be quite serious for small children.


Immediate treatment can reduce the long-term damage caused by burns. After a burn accident, carefully remove any loose clothing that might be covering the burn. Do not remove clothing if the skin is blistered, or if clothing has become stuck to the skin. Let cool water run over the affected area for at least 10 minutes, and longer if possible. Keep those parts of your child’s body that have not been affected by the burn warm, and keep an eye out for signs of shock. Contact emergency services, and keep cool water running over the affected area while you wait for them to arrive. Do not apply any kind of ointment or cream, or apply dressings to the area. Do not touch the affected area. Have the burn assessed by a doctor or other medical professional.


Minor scrapes and knocks are a normal part of growing up, and can be treated by applying plasters to the affected area. However, if it looks like the bleeding is not stopping, taking the necessary precautions can be invaluable in the first moments after an accident has taken place.


Lay the child down and examine the area that is bleeding to check for objects that might be stuck in the wound. If you find anything, do not remove it. Elevate the area that is bleeding above the heart to slow the bleeding, and apply direct pressure to the wound. Contact the ambulance. If the bleeding is excessive, elevate the child’s legs to help their circulation, while still keeping the affected area elevated as well.

Head injuries

If a child has suffered a head injury and is unable to walk normally or won’t stop crying, immediately contact the emergency services. If the child is alert and is behaving normally after the injury, you can control any bleeding by using a non-fluffy cloth to apply direct pressure to the wound. Using an ice pack on the affected area for 10 minutes can help to reduce swelling. Carefully observe the child for the next 24 hours. Should you notice disturbances in colour, unusual breathing patterns or twitching limbs, take the child to the emergency room immediately.


It is okay to let a child sleep after a head injury if they are not exhibiting any unusual behaviour, but take care to check on them during the night to ensure that everything is normal.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

If your child is unconscious and is not breathing for whichever reason, take the following steps. First, open the airway and check for breathing. If the child is not breathing, tilt the head and lift the chin so that the head is in an almost horizontal position. Seal your mouth around their mouth and nose and gently blow into them. Check that the child’s chest rises when you blow. If the child starts to gurgle while you are breathing into them, briefly turn them onto their side and empty vomit from their mouth, then continue breathing into them. Do this until you have given them 5 rescue breaths.


For babies and small children, now place two fingers on their chest, roughly between their nipples, and push hard and fast roughly twice every second. After you’ve given 30 compressions, give two more sharp, short breaths. Continue performing CPR for the next minute, then call paramedics and continue performing CPS until the ambulance arrives.


Find Your Jane periodically provides CPR and first aid training courses for nannies and parents, where participants learn the exact techniques that are necessary in an emergency situation. Contact us to find out when the next course will be presented.

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