Baby first aid

Congratulations on your new little bundle!  No doubt you've had the roller-coaster of euphoria, fear, joy, fear, contentment, fear, happiness and ... "Jeez this is just too much!" 

The thought of something happening to our little, defenceless baby is too much to bear. So let's not think about it and that will ensure nothing bad happens, right? Wrong. Unfortunately accidents and illness happen every day, even with babies. As a parent or carer we need to recognise signs and symptoms, and know what to do when our baby needs us most.

All these treatments are learned and practised at a first aid course, and are something every parent and carer should know. The idea of baby first aid can seem daunting, but the more you go over potential 'what-ifs' the more confident you'll be.

Also remember that prevention is better then cure. Get down on your hands and knees to see hazards from your baby's viewpoint, and read more about childproofing your home.

Here are five common scenarios that happen among babies, and how to cope with them. 

Loss of appetite, tiredness, irritability, and being unusually cuddly are most common signs of a fever

Your baby falls and hits her head
Most of us have heard that horrible "thud". Babies don't know how to break their fall like older, more experienced fallers, so their head usually takes a lot of the impact.  

Although a baby's head is soft and delicate, it's designed quite well for the odd bump. So first of all, try not to panic. (Babies don't know to panic unless they pick it up from you!)

Next, what's the baby's reaction? Is she looking around like nothing's happened, indicating the fright is bigger for you than her? Is she crying, indicating pain - also letting you know there's nothing wrong with her consciousness or breathing? If it's either of these reactions, rest assured your baby is usually okay.

If she appears 'dazed', unusually tired, starts vomiting or fitting, call 000 immediately.


Your baby is unconscious
To get a response, try putting your finger in his hand to get him to grip; rub his forehead or chest; call his name and tickle his feet.  

If he's not responding, call an ambulance immediately and put him in the recovery position. For a baby, this is laying face down along your arm. Support his head from her jaw with your thumb/fingers allowing for a clear airway. It's vital to ensure he's still breathing. 

Your baby has a fever
Aside from temperature, there are other sign and symptoms to look out for relating to a fever. Loss of appetite, tiredness, irritability, and being unusually cuddly are most common. Your baby will feel hotter than usual to touch, too - feel the back of her neck, as this is consistent.  

Digital and mercury thermometers take up to five minutes to get an accurate reading. Place the tip of the thermometer under her armpit to do it. This is uncomfortable, so be prepared to give her extra reassurance. 

A "normal" temperature ranges from around 36-38 degrees celcius, so anything more indicates a fever. If the temperature rises rapidly she could have a seizure. This is alarming for a lot of parents, and more distressing than the fever itself.

There are a few important points to remember with fevers. Do make sure to:
• take extra layers of clothing off (a nappy/singlet is fine)
• move her from any source of heat.
• turn on a fan, or use a magazine to fan her
• if she has a seizure, stay calm. Keep her safe, such as on carpeted floor. Call an ambulance.

But don't:
• use eucalyptus, including rubs
• hold her! You'll only transfer extra body heat
• put her in a cool bath. The temperature change is too much of a shock, and it can be dangerous if she has a seizure in a bath
• restrain her if she has a seizure, or put anything in her mouth. You don't have to worry, as she won't swallow her tongue.

Remember seizures from a fever are extremely common and happen every day. By the time your baby reaches school age, fever-related seizures are no longer a concern.

Your baby suffers a burn
For sunburn, heat burn or scald, run the affected area under cool running water for a minimum 10 minutes. Keep up his fluids and keep other parts of his body warm in case of shock.   

For a chemical burn, run water over the affected area for a minimum of 20 minutes, being careful not to run the chemical on to other parts of the body.

Never pop blisters or use burn creams or lotions as first aid, and don't remove clothing - it may be stuck. 

DO seek medical advice if the burn is large, deep, involves the airway, hands, feet or genitals or if you're just not sure what to do.

Your baby is choking
A partial obstruction is when you hear gagging or coughing, and requires no help other then to ensure she is calm (stay calm yourself) and make sure she's upright. If she's coughing, don't pat her on the back or put your fingers down her throat.

A full obstruction is silent. If she's truly choking call an ambulance immediately, stay calm and alternate five back blows and five chest thrusts. If she loses consciousness, start doing CPR.  

This article has been supplied courtesy of Little Aid. Little Aid teaches all first aid treatments for babies and children with short, inexpensive courses tailored for parents, grandparents and babysitters.