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First Aid for Babies - Tips Every Parent Should Know

Posted on October 11 2021

Learn how to care for your little ones when they have minor injuries, and when it’s time to bring your child to see his paediatrician.

 

Our experts, certified First Aid instructors Natasha Cullen and Haney Rahman, share their expertise on keeping your babies safe at home.

 

Our Experts

Founder of Beloved Bumps, and mum of two boys, Natasha is also a UK Registered Midwife and First Aid Instructor.

 

Natasha Cullen

 

Mother of two young sons, and founder of Beloved Bumps, Natasha is also a UK Registered Midwife, Doula, First Aid Instructor and Hypnobirthing Practitioner. She is passionate about empowering women during their pregnancy and their journey of parenthood, by providing them with unbiased, evidence-based information. Beloved Bumps provides both Prenatal and Postnatal services to couples in Singapore that are truly unbiased, very sociable and distinctly interactive each time.

 

Haney Rahman

Haney Rahman from Mother and Child Singapore is an ASHI certified First Aid Instructor.

 

A Registered Nurse with the Singapore Nursing Board, Haney from Mother and Child Singapore has a Bachelor of Nursing from La Trobe University, Australia. The mum of three girls and a boy is also an IBCLC Lactation Consultant, as well as ASHI certified First Aid Instructor. Her nursing career began as an Obstetric ward nurse in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and she was also part of the Parentcraft teams at Thomson Medical Centre and Mt. Elizabeth Novena Hospital.

 

All About Falls

 

As your baby starts to roll, crawl, stand and walk, she’s likely to fall. Most happen from an elevated surface such as the bed, sofa, chairs, tables or stairs. Other than height, what they fall onto or might hit also impact their fall. Haney says, “Babyproofing your house is the first line of defence in preventing falls.”

 

Preventative Measures: Babyproofing the Home

 

Block the kitchen and staircases with a stairgate, ensure the floor is always dry and clutter-free, with small objects out of your baby’s reach. Place furniture away from the windows, and anchor them to the wall where possible. Fit windows with grilles, and always lock them, tying the window blinds high and putting them out of reach. Haney says, “This prevents the crawling child from leaning or pulling on these objects to balance themselves.” Natasha adds, “In the rest of the house, make sure you move medications etc from low down.” Put these in bathroom cabinets instead.

 

Additionally, never leave your baby unattended on the changing table or bed. Keep the crib sides up and secured and install safety rails on all sides of the bed. Consider getting a playpen for a safe play zone. Walkers with wheels may cause children to tip over, fall out or down the stairs. Safer options include activity centres or jumpers ($99 to $299).

 

After a Fall

 

Despite your best efforts, your child is likely to still fall down once in a while. First, remove them from danger if it’s safe to do so. Haney recommends, “Look out for obvious cuts or abrasions and provide first aid where needed. It is important to observe your babies for signs of head injury within the next 24 to 48 hours.” If you notice an “egg”-like swelling, Natasha says, “Get some ice and hold it onto the swelling for as long as your child will let you.” Bring your child to the hospital if she loses consciousness, falls from a height of more than a metre, or is acting abnormally following the fall. Other symptoms include vomiting more than once, or drowsiness, headache or complaining of a painful limb she fell onto.

 

When to Go to the A&E

Clean minor wounds and apply a plaster but rush your child to the A&E if there’s a foreign body or the wound is deep.

 

Fever

 

For fevers in particular, always bring your baby under three months to the A&E if she has a temperature of 38°C and above. This is especially vital if your child is very sleepy or drowsy. Natasha says, “In older children or babies, they can see their GP unless the parent is concerned, or the child develops a rash or has any breathing difficulties.” While the most uncomfortable, the rectal thermometers are the most accurate, followed by the oral, ear, forehead ($119.90) or armpit thermometers. Having a fever, Haney says, “is a common sign of illness, and key to fighting an infection. It’s best not to self-medicate but bring your little one to see a doctor to find the underlying cause.”

 

Wounds, Cuts, Scrapes and Grazes

 

Cuts from sharp, thin objects like knives, razor blades or paper, usually pierce the skin to the fat tissues. On the other hand, scrapes are surface wounds usually caused by abrasive surfaces like sandpaper, and do not go through the skin. Apply gentle pressure on the minor bleeding, and then clean the wound with water or saline solution. Haney says, “A stronger cleaning solution is not needed as this might irritate the wound. Dressing the wound is unnecessary for cuts and scrapes.” It’s best to get a doctor’s prescription for disinfecting solutions as a child’s skin is much thinner than an adult. Natasha says, “It’s a good idea to get these checked out if it’s deep, or it’s not a straight cut, as these may require stitches.”

 

Haney advises, “Should there be a foreign object in or on the wound, do not pull it out. The foreign body may be dirty, rusty or jagged.” Wrap around the foreign object with a clean diaper, or gauze and secure with a bandage, then bring your child to the hospital. Natasha adds, “If blood is spurting or is very heavy, lay your child down, elevate the limb and call 995, applying continuous pressure and prepare for basic life support.”

 

Allergic Reactions to Food

 

If your child has a food intolerance, symptoms include gassiness, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation or cramping. Conversely, if your child has a food allergy, she may have symptoms such as swelling on the lips, tongue or mouth. Others include itching around the mouth area, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes, shortness of breath or wheezing. Should your child have difficulty breathing, chest pain, confusion or fainting, otherwise known as anaphylaxis, rush your child to the hospital immediately.

 

For food allergies, Natasha advises, “First, remove the food, then wash the hands and face.” After this, monitor your child closely, taking pictures of the allergies. You may give antihistamines or seek medical advice, while staying calm and reassuring your child. Haney suggests bringing your baby to see a doctor for a thorough assessment to rule out food allergens to avoid and suitable substitutes.

 

Stocking Your First Aid Kit

 

A first aid kit should include bandages, gauze, saline, scissors and tweezers to remove splinters or bee stings. Other essentials include plasters, safety pins, and gloves, sterile cotton balls ($3.30), copies of important documents, hand sanitiser ($2.60 to $72), antiseptic spray and disinfectant swabs. Make sure that these are not expired. Haney suggests having two such kits, kept in a small Ziploc bag in your diaper bag and at home.

 

Types of Rashes

 

Localised rashes from insect bites, allergens, bacteria or irritants are usually found in one spot or area. Symptoms include swelling or redness over the affected parts, pain, warmth or itchiness over the areal. Haney says, “In severe cases, your child may start to have a fever, difficulty breathing with nausea or vomiting, an increased heart rate or even lose consciousness."

 

On the other hand, Haney shares, “Widespread rash is spread all over the body, over a larger surface area.” This rash is usually due to viruses, bacteria, food or drug allergies, and spread through the bloodstream. It may appear as small or large red patches on the skin, and they may or may not be itchy. In viral rashes, your child may also get a fever.

 

After you discover the rash, wash the affected area but do not scrub. Pat the skin dry and leave it exposed. Haney advises parents not to diagnose the rashes over the phone or by searching the symptoms online. Instead, check with your child’s paediatrician, who will prescribe antihistamines and topical cream if necessary.

 

Sprained Limbs

 

Look for pain, bruising, swelling and see if your child has trouble moving the affected limb. Haney says, “Get your child to rest the sprained limb. Apply an ice pack or cold compress on the affected limb immediately, support it with a bandage for 24 to 48 hours and elevate the affected limb. This will improve blood circulation and reduce swelling.” If it looks abnormal, with the bone poking through the skin or the limb is in a different position, see a doctor as it may be a fracture.

 

First Aid at Home

 

Burns

 

First, remove clothing unless it’s stuck to the skin, then your child’s diaper and cool the burn with cool running tap water for 20 minutes. Keep the rest of your child warm. This treatment is effective for up to three hours after the burn injury. For face burns, Natasha recommends using a spray bottle filled with water to spray constantly on the burn. Finally, cover the burn loosely with a clean wet cloth, towel or non-stick dressing. Bring your child to the hospital immediately thereafter for a check.

 

Bites

 

If possible, remove the stinger with the aforementioned tweezers if it’s lodged in the skin. Next, wash the area and applying an ice pack to reduce swelling and discomfort.

 

Conjunctivitis

 

Very common in children, conjunctivitis is highly contagious. Haney says, “Relieve the symptoms by cleaning the eye area with warm water and cotton balls. Apply cool compresses after, especially if there is crusting. If symptoms persist, do consult a doctor, who may prescribe antibiotics.”

 

Choking and Gagging and When to Intervene

Attend a first aid course before your baby starts solids, and learn how to dislodge objects when choking and CPR.

 

Natasha explains, “Gagging is a normal response that babies show – it’s a protective mechanism against choking. Babies have highly sensitive gag reflexes that are triggered very close to the front of the tongue.” Your baby develops and matures her oral motor movements as she starts to wean and eat. Gagging is her way of stopping food going down the wrong way. She continues, “Choking on the other hand means that your baby’s airway is blocked. You may see them turn blue in the face or lips, and they may not be able to cry, cough or make any noise at all.”

 

Let your child cough to dislodge the food blocking her airways – refrain from patting her back or asking her to clear her throat. Haney says, “Avoid putting your finger in, in an attempt to induce vomiting or poking blindly as this might cause the food to be pushed further in.” Natasha adds, “I would highly recommend that parents attend a first aid course around five months around the time that children will be starting solids.” This way, they can practice both the five back blows and five chest thrusts to dislodge an object when choking. Additionally, you can also learn CPR which you need to be prepared for in case the object doesn’t dislodge.

 

First Aid Courses: Know what to do in case of an emergency and attend first aid courses at Beloved Bumps or Mother and Child.

 

Relevant Reads: Babyproofing Your Home - Keep Your Infants and Toddlers Safe

Credits: pressfoto, Ksenia Chernaya

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