Coping with bumps and bruises - first aid for tots

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Information & Advice

Coping with bumps & bruises - first aid for tots

Applying a bit of first aid can be an essential part of being a mum or dad.


Information from


Published 28/07/2010

Here are some typical problems, how to deal with them and what you'll need:

Lumps and bumps

Your tot will probably spend less time tottering than tumbling and bumping, so you’ll need to be prepared for those minor scrapes.

Keep a supply of plasters, bandages, antiseptic cream and the usual first aid basics in an easy to reach place (but out of the reach of children). Also make sure you have a closed pack of frozen peas or an ice pack in the freezer to help with the swelling of any new bumps.

Products you might want to consider: Boots mini first aid kit, Boots Advanced First Aid Spray Plaster


Most people feel uncomfortable at the sight of blood, but it can be especially upsetting for a small child. Whatever your own feelings it’s important to keep both you and your child calm with reassuring words and a comforting hand.

To stop the nosebleed, sit your little one down and tell them to firmly pinch their nose just above the nostrils (guide their hand if you need to, or pinch their nose for them if they’re under two). The nosebleed should stop within five to ten minutes. While your little one is holding their nose tell them not to worry, that the nosebleed will stop and that blood is nothing to be scared of.

Top buys you might want to consider: Handy size tissues are good on the move, as is some extra soft cotton wool

Insect stings and bites

If your child likes playing outside in the summer, they might find their little hands and arms in the way of a wasp, bee or other stinging/biting insect.

Luckily, dealing with a bite or sting is relatively straightforward. First, take a look at the affected area. If it’s a sting and it remains in the skin, the most important thing to remember is to not remove the sting with tweezers or your fingernails, as you risk squeezing more venom out of the sting and worsening the reaction. Instead, use a credit card to scrape off as much of the sting as you can.

Whether it’s a sting or a bite, wash it with soap and water or use an antiseptic wipe, and apply a cold pack to help reduce swelling and discomfort. You could also use an age appropriate oral painkiller like Boots paracetamol suspension 3 months (always read the label for dosage) to help with pain if your child seems in particular discomfort. Remember to check that there are no other bites, as a scared or nervous child could easily miss a secondary bite or sting. Get medical help at once if your child's lips or eyes swell up, they are stung in the mouth or they start wheezing.

Products you might want to consider: Boots Bite & Sting Relief Antihistamine Cream (Not suitable for a child under 2 years of age. Contains mepyramine maleate. Always read the label.)

You can also help protect your child against mosquito and midge bites with a good insect repellent, such as: Boots Repel Kids Insect Repellent Roll-on 6 months

Burns and scalds

A child's skin is more delicate than an adult’s, so it's essential to act fast at the first sign of a burn or scald.

Hold the affected area under cold, running water for at least 10 minutes (don't remove any clothes that are stuck to the skin). Then cover with non-fluffy material, such as clingfilm, and take your little one straight to A&E.

Products you might want to consider for minor burns: Burneze Spray (Contains benzocaine. Always read the label.), Boots Faster Healing Burn Plaster Kit (can also help reduce scarring)

Swallowed chemicals

If your child has swallowed any solution that may be harmful then don't make them sick. What caused damage on the way down can do more on the way back up. You should also avoid giving your child a drink as some substances are absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream once they're diluted. Look around to find out what your child has swallowed and how much, collect any packaging (for identification purposes) and get to hospital fast.

Eye irritations

If your child is complaining that they've got something in their eye, it’s easy to take a look. Just ask your little one to lean back slightly and put their head towards the side of the eye that is causing discomfort. With your thumb and index finger, gently part the upper and lower eyelids - explain this procedure to your child before you start. With your child's eyelids parted, ask them to look up, down, left and right. At the same time look for any foreign bodies on the eye’s surface.

If you need to wash the eye, get a small clean container, preferably plastic, and fill to ¾ full with cold water from the tap. Tell your child what you will do and let a small drop drip onto their cheek to get them used to the temperature. Place a bowl on the floor to catch any spilling water and wash the eye out from the inner corner outward for 10 seconds at a time. Allow your child five seconds to blink. Carry on until the foreign body has been removed.

Although it’s unlikely you’ll find anything examine the dish you placed on the floor for any signs of foreign bodies. You may also wish to seek medical attention for your child to check there is no damage to the eye.

Products you might want to consider for eye irritations: Boots Eye Wash with Eye Bath, Optrex Multi Action Eyewash


If your child is having trouble breathing, first look inside their mouth to see if there is a blockage. If there is and you can remove it easily then go ahead, otherwise don't poke around blindly – you could push it further in.

Removing blockages – children under one

Lie your baby face down along your forearm or thigh with their head low. Give them up to five firm slaps between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. Check whether the object has come loose after each slap.

If the object doesn't come loose, turn them over and lie them face up along your forearm, again keeping their head low. Using two fingers, push inwards and upwards (towards the head) against the breastbone, one finger's breadth below the nipple line. Do this up to five times, checking between each thrust whether the blockage has come loose.

For a child over one

Stand behind your child and give them up to five blows between the shoulder blades. If the object doesn't come loose, put your arms around them, place a fist between their navel and breastbone, put your other hand on top and pull inwards and upwards, repeating up to five times.

For all ages

Repeat this cycle of back blows and chest thrusts three times; if nothing works, call 999 and continue until help arrives.

Useful information

· Keep a note by your telephone of your GP's and your out-of-hours doctor service's numbers. Above all, trust your instincts: if you think your child is really ill, dial 999 immediately.

· For 24-hour health advice, try NHS Direct ( In England & Wales, call 0845 4647; in Scotland, call 08454 242424

· Every parent should do a child and infant first-aid course: both the British Red Cross ( and St John Ambulance ( run good ones.

· It's wise to have a well-stocked first-aid kit, and to make sure you understand how to use what it contains.

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