Our guide to paediatric first aid

Our guide to paediatric first aid

First published date March 18 2014 Amended date March 18 2014

If you work with children or infants, it would be well worth your while taking a course in paediatric first aid, especially as people of this age have a habit of getting into mischief.

A paediatric first aid course will give you the skills and knowledge needed to recognise and treat life-threatening conditions in children, infants and babies. This course is essential for child carers, who must hold a valid paediatric first aid certificate. But a paediatric first aid course is also ideal for au pairs, nannies, nursery, pre-school workers, crèche assistants and parents.


What do you actually do on a paediatric first aid course?

On a paediatric first aid course you will gain a wealth of practical and theoretical knowledge for treating extreme medical emergencies in children, such as choking, asthma and diabetic illness, head injuries, seizures, bleeding, burns and conditions common in children, like measles and meningitis. You will learn about the vital differences between CPR in babies, children and adults.

The majority of paediatric first aid courses are very practical, involving hands on experience with lifelike models of babies and children. They typically last two days, consisting of 12 hours of training.

Usually candidates are assessed throughout the course and by a multiple choice questionnaire at the end, then a certificate which is valid for three years is awarded upon successful completion of the course. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) strongly recommends that all students take a refresher course each year to bring you up to date with any changes to first aid protocols. It could also be worthwhile choosing a course that is recognised by Ofsted (the official body for inspecting schools) and covers the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) criteria for childminders.

There are not normally entry requirements and no previous knowledge of first aid is needed. So all you need is a desire to help babies and children during medical emergencies.


Myth or remedy?

Sucking venom from a snakebite. Doctors believe this is useless, even dangerous because it might contaminate the wound. This is handy to know if you’re travelling abroad with children, as snakebites tend to be less common in the UK.

Squeezing out the stinger after a wasp sting. This is a resounding no-no and useful if you’re around children in summertime. It might burst venom in the stinger that has not yet been released. You should scrape the stinger out with something plasticky, like artificial fingernails. Putting baking soda on the sting apparently works. It neutralises the acid in the sting.

Hold your head back when you have a nosebleed. Some kids will suffer from nosebleeds more often than others, but they usually affect children at some point. However, holding their head back can be dangerous because they can breathe the blood into their lungs. You should press the fleshy part of their nose, not the bridge.


A quick quiz on First Aid for Children

1.    The correct ratio of chest compressions to ventilations in CPR for a child or infant is...

a) 15 compressions to one ventilation

b) 5 compressions to two ventilations

c) 15 compressions to two ventilations

d) 30 compressions to two ventilations


2. This process outlined above is called...

a) Cardiopulmonary resuscitation

b) Initial assessment

c) Airway control

d) Pulmonary circulation


3. If a child is having a seizure, what should you NOT do?

a) Try to ease their fall

b) Restrain them

c) Protect their head

d) Put them in the recovery position once the seizure is over


4. Why should you put an unconscious but breathing child in the recovery position?

a) So they are comfortable

b) So they don’t injure themselves

c) So they can sleep comfortably

d) To keep their airway open


(Answers: 1. d   2. a   3. b   4. d)   


By Nick Kennedy