Becoming a new parent is a joyful occasion. But it can also cause anxiety, because there are many things to consider when keeping your baby safe from harm.
When caring for babies and toddlers, responsible caregivers and parents should know proper life-saving techniques. This includes infant CPR and infant first aid, both of which can be easy to learn with the right lessons.
There are several ways you can help provide aid in an emergency, especially when caring for an infant. Some of the most common techniques recommended to new parents include:
- Heimlich Maneuver
- Using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)
- Controlling bleeding
Although each method will have a specific circumstance, CPR can be relevant in several situations. For example, if a baby falls unconscious and doesn’t resume breathing even after other first aid, CPR should promptly follow until medical help arrives.
If you’re not alone, have the other person call 911 as you focus your attention on the infant until an ambulance comes. However, if you are alone, some situations may require you to begin CPR immediately before calling for help.
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Potential Hazards for Infants That May Require Life-Saving Techniques
The first step in keeping your baby safe is knowing and minimizing potential hazards. By taking this approach, you will reduce the chances of you needing to administer emergency aid for your little one.
Some Common Accidents Include:
- Falls and head injuries
- Allergic reactions
Each circumstance will require distinctive techniques that can save your baby’s life. Let’s explore each hazard and how you can aid your infant in an emergency.
Choking is an unfortunately common hazard for infants and babies. Little ones love to put things in their mouth as they explore their world. Additionally, they are not yet skilled at chewing and cannot forcefully cough to dislodge a piece of food if necessary.
Your infant may have an object block their airway or partially block their breathing. Both situations will require immediate intervention if your infant:
- Has a bluish tinge to their skin
- Cannot cry, cough, or make a sound
- Has problems breathing
- Makes a high-pitched whistling sound
- Creates soft, light breathing sounds
- Falls unconscious
Follow these steps to provide the Heimlich maneuver on a choking baby.
- Turn the baby onto its stomach and place them face down on your forearm with your lap or thigh for support. Support their head, chin, and jaw with your hand.
- Tilt the infant downwards to keep their head lower than their body.
- With your free hand, perform five quick and firm back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.
- Check if the object has become dislodged. You can carefully use a finger sweep in the mouth, but be mindful not to force an object further into the throat.
- If the item remains, turn the infant over, supporting their head and neck.
- Use two fingers in the center of the baby’s chest just below the nipple line, and perform five firm chest compressions. These should be only ⅓ of the chest’s depth.
- Alternate between back blows and chest compressions until the object is free or the infant is unconscious.
- If the baby falls unconscious, you should immediately begin CPR.
Falls and Head Injuries
Once an infant begins to roll, sit up, and move around, the possibility of them sustaining a fall and head injuries increases.
If your baby has fallen or hit their head, watch for these symptoms that indicate a severe injury that requires immediate medical attention:
- A large lump or dent
- Crying uncontrollably and continuously
- Prominent swelling or bruising
- Excessive bleeding from a cut
- Vomiting more than once
- Fluid leaking from the ears or nose
- The baby falls unconscious
- Difficulty breathing
- Lethargy, sleepiness, or being uncharacteristically drowsy
Although falls can be scary for both you and your baby, your little one can recover quickly. First, however, you must assess their injuries as soon as possible. This way, you can ensure that they don’t have anything serious that requires urgent medical care.
A concussion is a severe head injury that requires a longer recovery time. If your infant falls and sustains significant harm, call an ambulance. Check for breathing if they’re unconscious. You should only administer CPR if you cannot detect breathing or a pulse.
Although parents and caregivers try their best to keep infants safe (especially in the kitchen), accidents can still happen. Approximately 26% of all burn admissions to hospitals are children under 16, and 21% of these are children four and under. The severity of a burn will determine the treatment your baby needs.
The characteristics of each burn classification are as follows:
1st Degree or Superficial
Skin is red, might be slightly painful for a short duration, and has no visible blistering.
2nd Degree or Partial Thickness
Skin is red, has visible blisters, and possible open skin wounds.
3rd Degree or Full-Thickness
Third-degree burns are referred to as “full-thickness burns” as they burn through the full thickness of the skin. Skin appears white or charred, is swelling, and there is a lack of pain or sensation due to damaged nerve endings.
If your infant sustains a burn, you should:
- Immediately apply cool water or a cool compress to the area. Do not remove clothing if it covers the burn.
- Continue with cool water or compress for 10 minutes.
- For burns with blisters that measure more than two inches or a full-thickness burn, seek emergency care.
Some children will show mild or moderate reactions to allergic triggers, while others can have severe symptoms. The intensity of your infant’s allergic reaction will determine the treatment.
Some common allergy triggers include:
- New foods
- Insect bites
- Animal dander
If your baby suddenly shows symptoms of an allergy, they may experience the following symptoms:
- Hives or a red rash
- Trouble breathing
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Teary, red eyes
- Swelling in the mouth and face
- Falling unconscious
Infants under three months old shouldn’t ingest any antihistamines unless directed by their physician. You can help your little one suffering from an allergic reaction instead by placing a cool, wet cloth on the area and not allowing them to scratch their skin. You should also keep your baby away from any known allergic triggers in the future.
Infants who have a sudden onset of symptoms should see a medical professional as soon as possible.
In severe cases where your baby has problems breathing or is experiencing swelling, the doctor may administer an epinephrine shot. Once a doctor determines a severe allergy, having epinephrine shots on hand is a critical life-saving technique that will give you time to get your baby to emergency care.
Infant drowning can happen in only seconds and only a few inches of water. Therefore, providing emergency first aid to a baby you find unresponsive in water can minimize long-term damage.
Follow these crucial steps if your infant has a drowning incident:
- Get the baby out of the water.
- Place the infant on its back on a flat surface.
- Check for any breathing by opening their airway by tilting their head, and lifting their chin.
- If the baby isn’t breathing, begin CPR.
- After each set of breaths, check for breathing or a pulse before repeating the process.
To perform CPR on a child under 1 year of age, place your mouth over their nose and mouth and give two rescue breaths of 1 second long each. For a baby over 1 year, pinch the nose, place your mouth over their lips, and give two slow rescue breaths of 1 to 2 seconds each.
If you are alone, you must perform CPR for at least two full minutes before dialing 911.
Providing Emergency First Aid with an AED
Sometimes, you may be unaware of the reasons why an infant requires emergency first aid, only that they are not breathing and do not have a pulse.
Existing medical conditions parents may not know about (like tachycardia) may require swift action. Preparing for these potential situations can provide peace of mind – you’ll know just what to do if this critical situation ever arises with your baby or another person.
Many public areas include an AED (automated external defibrillator) to help provide emergency care until an ambulance arrives on the scene. This medical device can mean a better chance of recovery for someone that falls victim to a cardiac arrest.
With proper application, parents or caregivers can use an AED on an infant. These devices should include pediatric pads that help deliver the correct voltage to readjust the heart’s rhythm. If there are no pediatric-specific pads with an AED, do not use adult ones on a baby.
Learning How to Use Life-Saving Techniques for Infants
The most important aspect of using life-saving techniques is how to administer them properly. Babies are fragile and require a different approach than older children or adults in an emergency. You want to do everything you can to help them without causing further harm.
One of the best ways to be ready for any situation is to complete a certified course in infant CPR and infant first aid. This way, you’ll have the necessary training and knowledge on what to do in an emergency without worrying you’re not performing the technique correctly.
It can be comforting to know how to perform life-saving techniques, especially when you’re a parent or caregiver of an infant. These little ones can’t tell you what is wrong. Having the best strategies to help them can keep them safe and help them recover from an accident or injury. Knowing CPR or infant first aid may one day save a child’s life – it’s always a good idea to be prepared.
Author Bio for Kate Macmorn
Kate is the communications director for the American Medical Resource Institute, where they’ve trained over a million healthcare professionals to study for, earn and maintain life support certifications that allow them to better respond to cardiac emergencies. When not in the office, you can find Kate practicing her tennis skills. She also frequents live music venues and is always looking for her next creative hobby.