Once children learn to crawl and walk, they are at risk for falls, knocks, bumps, scrapes, cuts, and possibly even burns. This is a natural part of growing up, learning new coordination skills with an ever-changing body, and the natural adventurousness of childhood.
The following are some basic first-aid tips to help you administer timely care the next time your little one gets hurt or takes a tumble.
Keep Well-Stocked First-Aid Kits
Keep a first aid kit in your home. If you travel frequently, a second kit in your car or travel bag will be readily available to treat injuries while you are on the go. The first aid kit might include the following items:
- Sterile gauze pads
- Bandaids in several sizes
- Adhesive tape
- Ace bandage
- Antiseptic wipes (rubbing alcohol)
- Antibiotic ointment (Neosporin)
- Antiseptic solution (hydrogen peroxide)
- Acetaminophen and ibuprofen (tylenol and advil)
- Disposable instant cold pack
- Plastic no latex gloves
- Calamine lotion
- Benadryl (antihistamine)
- A splint
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- A blanket
- Mouthpiece to administer CPR
Keep A List Of Allergies & Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
If your child needs emergency medical care or is injured and needs an unexpected visit to an urgent care clinic, you will likely need to inform all medical personnel of any allergies or pre-existing medical conditions. In a crisis, it might not be easy for you to remember all the details.
Make sure nothing is missed in an emergency moment. Print out a list of all your child’s allergies, pre-existing medical conditions, and current medications. Keep a copy of it in your day bag, and in your child’s backpack. Also, take a picture of it on your phone. This way you will always have the pertinent medical information with you if an emergency arises.
First-Aid Tips For Common Childhood Injuries
The following is a list of some common childhood injuries and tips on how to assess the severity of the problem, as well as render timely first-aid.
A Bump On The Head
An accidental fall on playground equipment or a wipe-out while running around with friends can easily result in a blow to your child’s head. As long as they are acting like their usual self and can respond normally, there is little concern of a concussion. If the bump on the head is bleeding or they are confused, agitated, sleepy or vomiting, then you should take your child to your pediatrician, an urgent care clinic, or the Emergency Room for evaluation. (For more information, see our blog on concussions.)
For a minor bump on the head with no other serious symptoms, applying an ice pack or gently pressing a bag of frozen vegetables to the bump will help manage the swelling. Just make sure to wrap your chosen cold pack in a thin towel, and do not apply the cold pack for more than 20 minutes at a time.
First-Aid For A Child With A Nosebleed
Nose bleeds are another common childhood injury that comes from a mild to moderate blow to the face. If the nose itself looks deformed or bent at an angle it could be broken. A trip to your pediatrician or urgent care is recommended. If the nose is not deformed, you should be able to treat it with some basic first aid.
To manage a common bloody nose, start by having your child tilt their head FORWARD slightly. You can then use a towel or a loosely folded piece of tissue to pinch the nose firmly just below the nasal bone. Don’t let them tilt their head BACK as this could send blood down the back of their throat and lead to nausea and vomiting. You should be able to stop the bleeding after 10 to 15 minutes by firmly holding the nose in this position.
Providing First Aid For A Minor Burn
Burns can sometimes be hard to assess when they first happen. A curious child who accidentally burns a fingertip when helping you stir the soup on the stove can typically be treated at home. A more serious burn that swells severely, bleeds, blisters rapidly, or involves a larger area of the skin, will require a trip to your pediatrician, an urgent care clinic, or an emergency room.
For a minor burn, you should have the child run the burned area under cool water for 10 to 15 minutes, or apply ice to the area. Minor discomfort can be managed by an appropriate dose of child-safe acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Once the pain starts to abate, the burned skin will need time to heal. You can help by gently applying an antibiotic ointment to help the damaged skin cells to regenerate.
If a blister forms, encourage them to leave it alone. This is the body’s way of naturally protecting the damaged dermal cells. Allow the blister to pop on its own, then apply an antibiotic ointment and a clean bandage.
First-Aid For A Bad Cut
Kids get scrapes and cuts that need to be treated. If your child suffers a serious laceration that won’t stop bleeding or is gaping open, or the cut is deep or on an area of skin that needs to bend and flex, then you need to take your child to your pediatrician, an urgent care clinic or the emergency room for closure.
If the wound is bleeding, apply direct pressure for 10 to 15 minutes and elevate the injured area above the heart to stop the bleeding.
For a modest cut or serious, yet shallow scrape, you should be able to treat it with some common sense care. Gently wash the cut to make sure all debris is flushed from the wound with some lukewarm water and a little gentle anti-bacterial soap.
Once the wound is clean, you can gently pat the wound dry with a clean paper towel or washcloth. Then you can apply some antibiotic ointment, before carefully applying a bandage.
First Aid For A Minor Ankle Sprain
Children tend to go through awkward periods where their brain is still learning to operate a constantly growing body. This translates into accidental falls and the occasional twisted ankle. If the ankle sprain swells severely, the child complains about numbness in the foot, or they cannot put any weight on it without severe pain, then you need to take them to the pediatrician’s office.
For a more minor ankle sprain, twisted or rolled ankle, basic first aid starts with taking weight off it. If possible, have the child sit down or lay down to elevate the ankle above their heart. Then gently apply an ice pack to the area for 15 minutes per hour. This will help reduce the swelling that can complicate an ankle sprain. An appropriate dose of Ibuprofen can also help reduce pain and swelling.