Should I do a first aid class?
If you’re a new parent or expecting a baby, you might be worried about how you will cope if there is ever a medical emergency.
First aid is one of those skills we all hope we will never need to use but learning what to do if your baby or toddler has an accident can help you feel more confident in your parenting and could even save a life one day.
There are a number of providers who offer baby and child first aid courses, including the British Red Cross, St Johns Ambulance and NCT. It is also worth looking to see what is available in your area – your midwife or health visitor should be able to give you information about any classes taking place near you.
Do I need to do a course which is specific to babies and toddlers?
Some of the actions you need to take to help a baby or toddler in medical distress will be different to how you would treat an adult. Most general first aid courses teach people to administer first aid to adults and some of the advice will not be suitable for babies, toddlers and young children.
Even if you have completed an adult first aid class in the past, it is a good idea to add to your skills by completing a course aimed at treating babies and young children.
What kind of things will I learn in a first aid class?
Baby and child first aid classes will cover how you should respond in a range of childhood emergency situations. While the specific content of each course will vary, typical subjects which will be covered include what to do if a child is choking, unresponsive or has a seizure and how to carry out CPR.
Classes may also cover what to do if your child has a fever, how to spot the signs of meningitis and how to deal with bleeding, burns, bumps and breaks.
You can learn first aid both at in-person classes and online. While virtual classes are often an easier option for new parents, it is worth bearing in mind that you won’t get the hands-on practice with skills like CPR and wrapping a bandage which you might get during sessions you attend in person.
Is there anything else I can do to prepare for an emergency?
Make sure you know the location of your accident and emergency department and whether there is a separate one for children. Knowing where to go in advance will save time if you ever need to take your baby or child there and the situation is not serious enough to call an ambulance.
Your area may also have a walk-in clinic which can deal with minor illnesses and injuries. If in doubt, call the 24-hour NHS advice line 111.
Buying a first aid manual can also be helpful as it can remind you of what procedures to follow in an emergency. It is no substitute to taking a first aid class but having something you can read will help keep things fresh in your mind.
One helpful thing all parents can do is make sure they have a first aid kit at home which they can use if their child hurts themselves. First aid kits are usually used to deal with fairly minor incidents like cuts, burns and scrapes.
You can buy ready-filled children’s first aid kits from many pharmacists or you can put together your own. Make sure you, your partner and anyone who might be looking after your child knows where in your home the first aid kit is kept.
Your first aid kit should include:
- Plasters – have a selection of sizes and shapes to cover any cuts, blisters or scrapes. You can get plasters in bright colours or with fun designs which can make them more appealing to toddlers and young children.
- Bandages – this can be used to support a strained joint or secure a dressing in place.
- Adhesive tape – useful for helping hold dressings in place.
- Sterile gauze dressings – For larger cuts, a plaster often won’t cut it and a sterile gauze pad held in place with tape and a bandage.
- A small pair of scissors – blunt-ended scissors are safest for using near your little one’s skin.
- Tweezers – these can be useful for removing anything which is stuck in your child’s skin.
- Antiseptic wipes – these can be used to clean cuts and grazes to help prevent infection.
- Thermometer – Taking your child’s temperature when they are ill is important and it can help you work out whether or not they have a fever
- Pain relief – A bottle of infant paracetamol and ibuprofen are important additions to your medicine cabinet or first aid kit but always follow the instructions.
- Antiseptic spray or cream – This can be useful for wounds after they have been cleaned but make sure you buy a product which is suitable to use on your child.
- Antihistamine cream – for itching, swelling or discomfort caused by insect bites or stings