20/12/2016 07:17 GMT | Updated 21/12/2017 05:12 GMT

Putting Your Child's Safety First

The vast majority of parents-to-be will be enrolled onto some sort of antenatal class, whether it's birthing, breastfeeding or after care. As important as these classes are, I believe they are no more so than first aid for under 5's, and paediatric first aid is often overlooked.


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You're soon to be a new parent, and your head is spinning with all the advice well-meaning parents are offering and endless 'baby essentials' you need to buy before baby is born. As mum of two, amongst all the excitement and endless things to consider, I remember wanting to know what was vital, not just 'nice-to-have'.

The vast majority of parents-to-be will be enrolled onto some sort of antenatal class, whether it's birthing, breastfeeding or after care. As important as these classes are, I believe they are no more so than first aid for under 5's, and paediatric first aid is often overlooked.

I've been working with parents recently as part of a national campaign, Child Safety First, which aims to engage more new parents with paediatric first aid and it's clear to see from the response we have had that such knowledge is highly valued. By working with local mummy and parenting groups, charitable organisations and childcare providers, my goal is to ensure all new parents are given the opportunity to learn vital life-saving skills.

Of course, we hope that no one will ever find themselves in a situation where they need to administer first aid, but, figures from St John's Ambulance put the importance of first aid provision into context; 140,000 lives are lost each year that could have been saved by basic first aid training. The first few minutes of an incident is often the most critical period, and is the point when a child's life could be saved. For example, if a child becomes unconscious, a simple tilt of the head can help to prevent them from choking and blocking their airway.

So, here are some key take away tips for any parent looking to administer paediatric first aid provision:

1. Resuscitation and the D.R.A.B procedure

There's an all-important process that you must follow before carrying out any form of resuscitation on a child. This is called the D.R.A.B procedure:

D - check for danger

R - check for a response

A - open the airway

Gently lift the chin so the head is in a neutral position. Do not over extend the neck. Face should be pointing up, not back.

B - check for breathing


Photo sourced from Shutterstock

Place your ear near to the child's mouth and nose. LOOK LISTEN FEEL for breath for up to 10 seconds.

2. Top tips with choking

Choking can happen at any time and, due to a young child's natural curiosity and tendency to 'feel' through their mouths, it can be a constant cause for concern when caring for them. Each year around 29,000 under-15s have to go to A&E after choking on something or swallowing non-toxic items other than food. That's 80 children every day.

So, how can we be prepared to help in the event of a child choking?

Depending on the age of the child, there are specific steps that need to be followed here:

Infant (under one years of age)

• Body positioning - no pressure on the neck

• Using as much force as reasonable, give five back blows in between shoulder blades - check mouth to see if blockage has been dislodged in between each one

• Give up to five sharp thrusts to the chest

• DO NOT administer abdominal thrusts to an infant

• If unconscious, check for objects blocking the mouth and administer the DRAB procedure - DO NOT blindly sweep the finger in the infant's mouth

• Repeat rescue breaths as outlined in DRAB, checking the mouth, until the obstruction is removed or the emergency services arrive

Child (over one years of age)

• Ask the child to cough to try and clear the airway naturally

• Give up to five back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand

• Carry out a maximum of five abdominal thrusts (the aim is to clear the airway after each abdominal thrust, rather than administer all five).

• Keep repeating the cycle of five back blows followed by five abdominal thrusts until the blockage is cleared or help arrives

• If unconscious, refer to the Recovery Position

3. Unconsciousness

There can be several causes of unconsciousness. Determining the reason why can be left to the medical professionals, but there is action we can take to help.

• Carry out the DRAB procedure

• Look for any obvious injury

• Place them in the recovery position

• Decide on the level of consciousness by using the AVPU scale

• Be prepared to act should they stop breathing

Alert - conscious and responsive? If not...

Voice - responds to voice commands? If not...

Placement - place your hands on their shoulders and gently shake them. Ask loudly, "Are you all right?" For infants try stimulating the soles of their feet. If there is no response, then...

Unresponsive - they are unresponsive

4. CPR

• Lay the infant/child on a flat surface, gently tilt the head back so the airways are in a neutral position

• Blow gently into the nose and mouth for 1 second, ensuring a seal is created

• Repeat to give 2 rescue breaths in 5 seconds

For Infant

(under one years of age)

• Place 2 fingers in the centre of the chest avoiding where the breastbone meets

For Children

(over one years of age)


Photo sourced from Shutterstock

• Use one or two hands to compress the chest

• 30 compressions at a rate of 2 per second

at approximately a third of the chest depth

• Follow by 2 rescue breaths in 5 seconds

• Repeat 30 compressions and 2 rescue breaths for 1 minute before going for help, taking the child with you

• 30 compressions at a rate of 2 per second

To find out more useful paediatric first aid advice, you can download this free booklet

Fay Gibbin is training manager at Busy Bees Training