Paediatric First Aid – Please Read Me

A few weeks ago I stumbled across a tweet offering a free paediatric first aid course at the renowned St John and Elizabeth hospital in St John’s Wood . Of course I jumped at the chance and I am very glad I did. Dr Lee Noimark who taught the workshop made a point of converting theory into practice we each had to do CPR on the baby and the child prop. I’m not lying if I say that I was actually sweating in panic when faced with a realistic scenario and a mannequin-doll-thing in my arms. 

I’m writing this post to share some notes and to encourage everyone to attend a similar course as you never know what life might throw at you. If a real emergency presents itself, I am shocked to tell you that even Google can’t help you. All you will find in a rush is advertising for First Aid courses or lengthy articles from medical journals. YouTube is a bit better, but will you really have the chance to stream a 4 minute video? Please set aside some time to attend a course / read a book / watch a video on the subject as soon as you can. You really never know.

So, here are some of my findings:

– Whilst most of us are scared of a baby becoming seriously ill or unwell, it is parents of older kids who get to experience the worst injuries as the older they get, the higher the chance for fall, injuries and accidents.

– The first aid techniques differ greatly between a baby (0-12 month), a child (1 year to puberty) and an adult.

– When a baby or child is in need of resuscitation it is much more likely to be a respiratory issue rather than a heart condition, which is usually the main concern for adults. 

– Even if you see something in the baby/child’s mouth that is obstructing breathing, DO NOT attempt to take it out. This could make matters worst. 

Call for help as soon as possible. The Ambulance service will actually talk you through CPR whilst you do it.

– The position of the head is different in the case of a baby CPR (neutral position) versus a child or adult CPR (head tilted back)

– When you do CPR on a baby you are blowing air in the nose and mouth together, rather than just the mouth.

– When you do a cardiac massage you are meant to go very fast (think of the tune of  ‘Nelly the elephant’) and push down at least half to two-thirds of the body. That means that you will get tired pretty quickly.

– When faced with chocking there are three possible scenarios.
  1. Strong cough – do nothing, the body is trying to get the object out
  2. Baby/child is unconscious – Call 999 (put on speaker phone) and start CPR
  3. Weak cough – choking procedure which is different for a baby than a child

Burns are helped by cold water, but, if the burn is extensive, be careful with cold water as the body might end up losing too much heat. It is best to undress the child, put him in a lukewarm bath and wrap the burnt area in cling film to keep the body hydrated and avoid infections until the ambulance arrives.

Please note that I am in no way an expert nor I am at all medically trained. I tried to convey some of the lessons learned. Do not rely on my post and get yourself booked for a course somewhere or at least spend some time on YouTube. The paediatric unit at St John and Elizabeth plans to run more free evening courses so follow them on twitter for news @HospStJohnEliz


  1. 6th March 2013 / 6:23 am

    Hey, thank you so much for this! I recently gave birth and as much as I'm careful with my daughter, there's always fear that something will go wrong. She's such a fragile child and I'll do everything to protect her, but it always help to be ready.

  2. 25th March 2013 / 9:00 pm

    My friend and I just encountered a situation involving a baby and yes we are very terrified at that time. Simple first aids will be very complicated to do since you're taking care of a fragile human. People should really learn more in taking and giving immediate first aids to babies and older people.

  3. 16th April 2013 / 3:46 am

    Olive Safety’s Consultancy team has over 40 years experience in Occupational Hygiene Monitoring,preparing Food Safety and conducting H&S Audits for organizations throughout Ireland.

  4. 3rd June 2013 / 5:48 pm

    Now there's a good thing to teach new mothers. It's a definite plus if they know what to do when their kids suddenly get a bad bump or a burn.

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