First aid for babies and children – what you should know

When a small child is in distress, fast action is required. But how do you effectively help with burns, poisoning or sunstroke?? The most important tips on first aid for babies and children.

Here’s why:

  • What to do when a child needs help?
  • First aid for falls
  • First aid for burns and scalds
  • First aid for poisoning
  • First aid for electrical accidents
  • First aid for unconsciousness
  • First aid after swallowing
  • First aid for sunstroke and heat stroke
  • First aid for insect bites
  • Who should you contact in an emergency?
  • Why a first aid course makes sense

What to consider when a child needs help?

Children are naturally curious, adventurous and always ready for the next adventure. But often they overestimate their own abilities and at the same time underestimate possible dangers. Accidents are the order of the day – and these experiences are also necessary to develop a feeling for risks. In this respect, children should not be overprotected and not every accident should be dramatized. Nevertheless, a lot of dangers lurk for children. Therefore, it is important that you can distinguish when a baby or toddler needs loving comfort or really fast help. It is important to remain calm and give the child a sense of security. So you can also recognize faster how serious the situation is. In case of doubt, it is always better to call the emergency doctor once too often than once too little – by dialing 112!

Call the emergency doctor

You can reach the emergency services by calling 112. needs the following information from you

  • Who calls?
  • What has happened?
  • Where help is needed?
  • Who is affected? Relating how many Children are affected?
  • Which Injuries there are?

Important: Please wait to see if there are any further questions. And: If you need assistance with first aid, you will receive it as telephone guidance until the doctor arrives on the scene.

First aid for falls

As soon as children become mobile, they can fall. When turning on the changing table, the first attempts to walk, when riding a bicycle. Often this is harmless. But how are adults supposed to recognize how serious the situation is in the first moment of shock?

Watch out for head injuries!

Often the head is affected, then special care is required. Although concussions usually heal without problems, they can also be accompanied by cerebral hemorrhaging.

An important criterion is: was the child unconscious? Then you should always alert the emergency doctor immediately. This also applies when the child

  • is dazed
  • Sees twice
  • vomit
  • appears apathetic or confused
  • no longer speaks properly.

By the way: The effects of a fall can show up hours or up to two days later. If possible, don’t leave the child alone and keep an eye on his or her condition, even at night. Be sure to call a doctor for alarm signs such as vomiting, sudden fatigue, headaches and nonstop crying.

Toddler climbs over a wicker chair onto the windowsill

After a fall, the child’s behavior should be closely observed

Get to the hospital if they break a bone

If a child has broken something, such as an arm or a leg, you must immobilize the affected body part and ensure that the fracture is not moved. An open fracture should be covered with a wound dressing, a closed fracture can be cooled – this relieves the pain, prevents swelling and distracts the child.

In this case, you should immediately make the emergency call (112) and have the child taken to a hospital.

How to recognize a broken bone

A broken bone is not always so easy to recognize in children. Often they can even move the affected arm or leg. Here’s how you can still recognize a broken bone:

  • severe pain
  • Significant swelling
  • Restrict movement
  • crunching sounds when moving
  • malposition of the bone

Treat injuries

How to give first aid to a child who has suffered a minor injury:

  • Cool bumps with a cooling pad (wrapped in a tea towel) or with a damp washcloth for 15-30 minutes.
  • Clean abrasions first, carefully remove dirt particles or stones, stop the bleeding with a clean compress before applying a plaster.
  • Major skin injuries are a case for the doctor. First aid for children is given beforehand with a first aid kit. Lacerations often look more dangerous than they are because of the large amount of blood involved. Stop the bleeding with a compress and go to the emergency room for treatment.
  • If the child loses large amounts of blood, call the emergency doctor immediately.

First aid for burns and scalds

The unattended barbecue, a freshly brewed cup of tea, lunch on the stove – babies and small children can easily be scalded or burned. That’s why it’s important to take precautions and not leave young children alone in the kitchen – especially when food is cooking on the stove. If a burn does occur, it is important to react calmly and prudently.

  • In the event of minor scalding, for example with hot tea or boiling water, immediately remove the soaked clothing. Then cool the area under running water for about 10 minutes (not too cold, about lukewarm).
  • For large area burns, you should not cool or you may get hypothermia. Cover the area loosely with a germ-free bandage cloth (without pressure) and call 911 immediately.

Young girl pulls a pot off the stove top

Especially when food is on the stove, parents should keep an eye on their children

First aid for poisoning

The colored cleaning agent looks like sugar syrup, the tablets like delicious chocolate lentils, the poisonous berries like cherries. If cleaning agents and medicines are not stored in a childproof manner or parents are not careful when walking in the woods, dangerous substances can quickly end up in children’s mouths and stomachs. Sometimes poisoning does not show up until hours later. Typical symptoms are nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue and malaise. In bad cases there is unconsciousness and cardiovascular arrest.

If you suspect the child has swallowed something toxic, call 911 or a poison control center immediately. You should take these measures as long as you have no other instructions from the emergency medical service:

  • If the child has inhaled something poisonous, provide fresh air.
  • Give him water or tea to drink (no milk, please).
  • Do not deliberately induce vomiting.
  • If the child has eaten poisonous plants, check the mouth area and remove any plant residues.
  • Save some of the toxic substance or any vomit for the emergency responder.

Call the poison control center

The staff at the poison control center will give you instructions on how best to care for the child and, if necessary, will also notify the emergency medical services of what to look for. In Germany, various poison information centers will answer your emergency call:

  • Berlin: 030 19240
  • Bonn: 0228 19240
  • Erfurt: 0361 730730
  • Freiburg: 0761 19240
  • Gottingen: 0551 19240
  • Mainz: 06131 19240
  • Munich: 089 19240

First aid for electrical accidents

Sockets seem to have a magical attraction for little fingers. Defective electrical appliances and cables can also lead to dangerous electrical accidents. The longer and more intense the current runs through the body, the more serious the consequences will be.

When giving first aid to children, do not put yourself in danger and avoid contact with electricity. Immediately pull the plug or turn off the fuse. If this is not possible, try to pull the child away from the power source with a non-conductive object. If the child is unconscious, first check for breathing and take immediate life-saving measures. Even if the child appears unharmed, he or she should always be taken to the hospital for evaluation after electrocution. If necessary, cover a burn with a sterile bandage from the first aid kit beforehand.

Two toddlers are playing in an apartment with an electrical outlet

Sockets have a strong attraction for children and should be secured accordingly.

First aid for unconsciousness

If a baby or child is unconscious on the floor, the first thing to do is to check if he or she is responding. Speak his name aloud and lightly stroke and tap the soles of his feet. Maybe he will wake up and you can continue to care for him.

If the child does not respond, call 911 immediately. Then, perform a breath check: Does the chest rise and fall?? Do you hear breathing sounds when you put your ear over his mouth and nose?? If you feel air flow?

If the child is breathing, place him or her in the recovery position until emergency services arrive. The side position prevents the child from choking on vomit or tongue. The stable side position as first aid for children works in the same way as for adults: The child lies on his or her side with one leg bent and the head extended backward. If it does not breathe on its own, you must use mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to get oxygen to the lungs. You have to be careful – the child’s lungs cannot yet absorb so much air. Carefully place the baby or child on a hard surface, remove anything from the mouth that could make it difficult for them to breathe. For babies, do not hyperextend the head; for children, do so only very carefully. Lift the chin slightly so that the airway is clear – and hold this position. Babies are ventilated by mouth and nose, older children are resuscitated by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. This involves closing the child’s nose with a finger. Now you have to inhale normally and then exhale carefully and evenly into the child’s mouth (or mouth and nose). The child’s chest should visibly rise and fall, the smaller the child, the less air you should use per breath. Repeat this five times. When the child starts breathing again, place him or her in the recovery position.

If it does not breathe, you perform resuscitation by cardiac massage. You also need to adjust them compared to adults. With a baby, place two fingers in the center of the chest, then press down rhythmically on the lower sternum at a rate of about 100 to 120 times per minute (about twice per second).

For a child one year and older, apply pressure with the heel of your hand in the middle of the lower sternum. Repeat this 30 times. Then give two more breaths and chest compressions again until the ambulance arrives.

First aid after swallowing and in case of choking

Marbles, coins or small toys lying on the floor – young children in particular tend to put everything in their mouths. It can happen quickly that they swallow. Encourage the child to cough and watch very closely to see if he or she is breathing effectively. If the object is large or angular, it can get stuck in the esophagus – this is dangerous, injuries can occur. The situation is even more critical if the foreign body has been inhaled by mistake – it then occupies the airways, there is a risk of death, and the baby or child can no longer breathe. You can recognize this by shortness of breath, persistent coughing, whistling noises when breathing and a discolored face, among other things. The child turns red or blue because breathing stops. Immediately call the emergency physician and then initiate first aid measures.

For older children, the same rules apply as for adults who have swallowed: For babies who are only a few months old and not yet able to stand by themselves, here’s what you should do until emergency services arrive:

  • Sit on a chair, legs close together, and lay the baby belly-down on your thighs. The chest rests on your knees.
  • Tap the middle of the back a maximum of five times.
  • If this doesn’t work, turn the baby over and give five small pushes on the chest with your fingertips until the airway is clear.
  • If there is still no improvement, repeat the pushes until the emergency services arrive.

Important: Even if the baby coughs and starts to breathe again, the foreign body may have fallen into a lung, the child must be examined by a doctor.

First aid courses for children and babies

Malteser teaches in the courses everything you need to know in case of emergency. Here you can find first aid courses for child emergencies also in your area.

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