First aid to the baby


The rescue service takes an average of eight minutes in Germany. In an emergency, this can be a very long time and is even longer for particularly concerned parents. In some cases, however, the measures that every first responder can learn can save lives. In some cases, babies need different or modified measures than adults.

Most aid organizations offer targeted first aid courses for emergencies in children. Most of the measures should actually be practiced, not just read up on.

What do I do if my child chokes?

One of the most common emergencies in infancy is swallowing. Children discover their world with all their senses and especially with their mouth.

Everything is put in the mouth and some toys are so small that they find their way into the airways. Nuts, Smarties and Lego bricks are particularly risky. In many cases, the food just gets stuck in the esophagus for a short time and the situation quickly calms down again. However, if the swallowed object gets into the windpipe, there is a risk of suffocation.

The obstacle can be carried out by a coughing fit. This cough can be supported by tapping between the shoulder blades while lying down on the head. With babies, the child is placed on the forearm and the head is held as the lowest point.Larger children can be placed over the helper's knee.

The so-called Heimlich maneuver should not be carried out on babies and toddlers, as internal organs can be injured. In any case, a visit to the doctor should be made to remove possible residues. In an acute case, the rescue service should be called.

What do I do if my baby suffocates?

Choking means that the airways are closed and the baby is no longer receiving adequate oxygen. This can have different causes. Children often explore their surroundings with their mouths and can therefore breathe in small toys. In this case, the pat on the shoulder described above can support the urge to cough and push the foreign body out.

The Heimlich grip from adult first aid should be avoided, as this can result in internal injuries. The first aiders should also not try to remove the foreign body from the windpipe themselves.

Another cause of suffocation is a swollen throat from an insect bite. This acute emergency requires the help of the emergency services. As a support, the child's neck can be cooled from the outside, and ice cubes can also be sucked for slightly older children.

Even with serious infectious diseases, such as whooping cough, suffocation can occur. The glottis can cramp and thus block the airways. Some children can breathe better if they are brought to the open window, but an emergency call is necessary here too.

First aid for a wasp sting

Insect bites are painful, but in most cases not dangerous. In the case of a wasp sting, the affected area should be cooled to relieve pain.

Wasp stings in the mouth are a special case. Children often eat their ice cream without paying attention to whether a wasp is sitting on the ice. A sting in the throat can cause the throat to swell and cause shortness of breath. The rescue service is to be called in here. The neck can be cooled from the outside and older children can also suck ice cubes.

Another special case of wasp stings are allergy sufferers. Children who are allergic to insect venom can also develop shortness of breath from stings in regions other than the throat. If the allergy is known, the parents sometimes already have an Epi-Pen with them as emergency medication. This should be placed on the thigh and pressed until the ampoule is empty. In any case, an extreme allergic reaction should be clarified by a doctor.

As a preventive measure, children should only drink from closed containers and parents should keep an eye on what the children are eating.

What do I do if I have stopped breathing?

The life functions of the body are made up of breathing, circulation and consciousness. Any failure of one of the systems quickly leads to problems with the other systems.

Without oxygen, irreversible brain damage occurs after about five minutes. When a baby or toddler has stopped breathing, the first thing to do is to press 911. In the next step, the child is placed in what is known as a sniffing position. This means that the head is minimally overstretched and stabilized with a towel under the shoulders, for example. Complete overstretching as in adults is not required.

Now the helper must initially ventilate the baby five times, as this can stimulate breathing again depending on the cause. To do this, the helper closes his mouth and nose under his mouth and breathes into the baby's body. The lung volume of a small baby is only about 20ml, i.e. as much as a pin, and should therefore not be ventilated with the full expiration of the adult helper.

After the initial ventilation, the helper should start with the classic 30 to 2 rhythm of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, as a respiratory arrest leads to cardiac arrest after a short time. These measures are acutely life-saving and significantly increase the baby's chances.

What do I do if I have a cardiac arrest?

The heart is the motor of our circulation and pumps blood through our body for a lifetime. Without this motor, our body and with it the brain will not get enough oxygen.

Babies rarely have cardiac arrest before they stop breathing because they do not yet have risk factors for heart attacks. Children with congenital heart defects are an exception. For most babies, cardiac arrest is secondary after they stop breathing.

With respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest, every minute counts, as the brain is damaged after about five minutes. After the initial ventilation described above, chest compressions must be started. The child must lie on a firm surface or on their own forearm. In babies, the helper can place both thumbs or forefingers and middle fingers on the breastbone at the level of the nipples and push in the rib cage about a third.

One hand can be used with small children. The frequency should be between 100 and 120 presses per minute. After every 30 presses, the baby must be ventilated twice again. Make sure that the chest is completely relieved between the impressions. These measures will continue until an ambulance worker instructs them to stop so that they can continue their work. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation should be trained in regular first aid courses.

What do I do if I have a head injury?

Head injuries are a very variable accident picture. They range from a bump if the child misjudges the height of the table, to severe traumatic brain injuries in a bicycle accident. With a bump, a cooling pad with a towel around is sufficient in most cases.

However, if the toddler or baby appears altered or begins to vomit after a head injury, go to an emergency room as they may have a concussion. In the case of lacerations, the parents can first put a sterile bandage around the head and then also drive to a hospital, as some wounds have to be stitched or glued.

In the event of severe head injuries with loss of consciousness and or bleeding from the ears or nose, the emergency services should be called directly. The baby should not be picked up as this may cause further damage. The height of the changing table is sometimes sufficient for these injuries, which is why children should never lie on the changing table unsupervised.

For small children, as in any other age, a helmet should be worn when cycling. Even in the event of a bicycle accident, the child should not be moved unnecessarily and the emergency call should be dialed directly.

What do I do if I have a seizure?

Seizures can have very different causes. Especially at the first cramp, the sight of the cramping baby is frightening for the parents. The most common cause of cramps in babies and toddlers is febrile seizure. A high fever usually leads to short-term cramps followed by a period of sleep.

In epilepsy, the cramps occur independently of infections and often have to be stopped with medication. There is not much that helpers can do during the seizure. Objects around the child should be removed or padded. In no case should one try to hold the cramping child or put something between the teeth.

In the post-sleep phase, a sleep that resembles unconsciousness, a stable side position can be useful. The ambulance service should also be called in, especially with the first cramp. Children who cramp more often are usually looked after by their parents themselves and only handed over to the emergency services if the cramp does not stop after a few minutes. A one-time spasm can also be poisoning. When this is known, the toxin should be given to the treating physician.

Read more on this topic at: Seizure in the baby

What do I do if I have an eye injury?

The eyes are very sensitive organs and can be easily irritated or injured. Chemicals as well as animals or injuries with objects are possible. In the event of an eye injury, an ophthalmologist should always be consulted, as some injuries are not directly visible. Babies in particular cannot give notice if the field of vision is not normal.

If there are burns or foreign bodies in the eyes, the eyes should be rinsed out. To do this, the child's head should be tilted so that the affected eye is below. Otherwise there is a risk that the second eye will also be damaged when rinsing. In the case of eye injuries, it makes sense to blindfold both eyes, as the eyes move at the same time and a distraction leads to movement of both eyes and not just the healthy eye. The bandaging should be done with sterile compresses if possible. Even after rinsing the eyes, a doctor should check to see if there are any remains in the eye.

In the case of larger injuries, such as foreign bodies that pierce the eye, the foreign body should only be stabilized and not removed, as with all other wounds.

What do I do if there is a foreign body in my ear or nose?

Children not only like to swallow small objects, they also like to put them in all body orifices. Peas, magnets and small Legos end up in nostrils or ears. Apart from instructing the child to take a deep breath, parents often cannot do much.

Some items can be removed directly by the pediatrician or ENT specialist. Others require surgical removal and are the cause of true collections in operating theaters of items that have been removed from bodies. If there are foreign objects in the nose, the children should not be left unsupervised, as the Lego brick can migrate into the airways and cause shortness of breath there. If you are unsure whether the toddler has objects in his nose, a pediatrician should be consulted as soon as possible. Usually, the children do not suffer from any late effects.

What do I do if I have hypothermia?

Babies and toddlers lose body temperature very quickly and are difficult to reverse on their own. In babies, there is a lot of temperature loss, especially over the head, which is still very large and only slightly hairy, which is why babies should wear headgear even in summer. Children cool down particularly quickly in water. The water conducts the temperature more strongly and because the children are distracted, they do not notice that they are freezing. Parents should pay attention to whether the children are trembling or have blue lips.

The main treatment for hypothermia is warming up. In the case of slight hypothermia, warm clothes and, especially for newborns, physical contact with the parents is sufficient. In the case of severe hypothermia, visible in the lack of tremors and clouded consciousness, no active warming by hot water bottles or rubbing arms should take place, as this leads to a redistribution of cold blood from the limbs and can thus further restrict the circulation. In the case of severe hypothermia, the emergency services should also be called, while in the case of slight hypothermia, no medical help is required.

What do I do if I have a burn?

Burns are among the most painful injuries. There are many possible causes. Infants are often burned from hot bath water, hot water bottles or warm food. Young children burn themselves on the iron or boiling water because they cannot assess the danger.

A cooling ointment and careful skin care are often sufficient for minor burns, which show up as reddened skin. As a first measure, cooling with water to relieve pain is also useful. However, as soon as blistering is visible, a doctor should be consulted. In the case of larger areas, such as after being scalded with cooking water, the rescue service should be called. Parents can cover the burn wounds with sterile bandages and should avoid therapy with ointments. Cooling is also not recommended for larger wounds, as the children cool down quickly.

Read more on this topic at: Burns in the baby

What happens in a baby first aid course?

Basically, the content of a first aid course for babies is very similar to that for adults. The point is to learn and train the basic measures that save lives in acute emergency situations. The course instructors deal with accidents and emergencies specific to babies and toddlers and discuss how the helper should behave in the situations. Some measures differ from those used by adults in emergency situations.

With ventilation, the volume of the lungs is significantly smaller and the cardiac massage is also slightly modified. This is trained on special baby dummies and child dummies. The first aid for ingestion is also slightly modified.

In many courses, preventive measures are also discussed in order to avoid typical accidents in this age group. This includes information about a safe sleeping environment and possible household help, such as stove grilles and socket protection. Most course instructors also respond to individual questions from parents and have time for desired topics. Some aid organizations also come to kindergartens and other institutions by arrangement to offer courses on site.