Like any other toddler, two-year-old Raju is going through what doctors term as 'physical milestones'. He likes running around, pulling things apart, climbing up the furniture and what not. His mother, Sarita is often at her wits end and is gripped with fear of her son banging his head on to the wall or hurting his tender feet while running.
Sarita is not alone. There are millions of mothers out there who are clueless when it comes to handling such situations. Is this an emergency or is this something toddlers are built for and should be able to absorb? What should be my first reaction, both physical and emotional?
We address the 'many' situations your toddler is likely to face and how you should respond to them.
Head injuries are more common in children than in adults. Head injuries can result from your child falling off the bed, hitting her head against the edge of a piece of furniture or even running into a wall.
Signs to look for: If you notice your child crying and indicating some discomfort in her head, look for external signs like a cut, a bruise or bleeding. It can be hard to assess whether a head injury is ordinary or serious by looking at it. It is important to watch your child closely for 24 hours after the injury to see whether she develops signs of distress like a bump, breathing trouble, nausea or light-headedness, all of which she may find difficult to communicate.
Parental action: For bleeding from cuts, try to stop the bleeding first. Ensure you handle your child with clean hands. Press the wound firmly with a clean cloth or a bit of gauze for about 10 minutes by which the time the bleeding will have stopped. If the bleeding does not stop or if there an object has pierced the wound, you must see a doctor. If you notice a bump, you could use a cold compress to reduce the swelling.
If you suspect there is something more than a minor injury, consult a paediatrician. If your child shows signs of a concussion including change in behaviour, loss of consciousness, sleeplessness, vomiting or confusion, seek emergency medical attention right away.
Want to teach your child about first aid? Click on the article below.
Burns are serious business. There are three types of burns: first-, second- and third-degree burns. If you happen to be dealing with the last two, it is better to rush your child to the hospital. Burns can be caused by anything – scalding hot bath water that your child tips over; a hot cup of coffee or a steaming bowl of food placed on the dining table that gets toppled over accidentally.
Signs to look for: A first-degree burn extends to only about 1/4th of an inch.
It can be identified by redness of the skin, and minor swelling. Small blisters are seen. Second-degree burns are identified by the large blisters and thickening of the skin that follows. Third-degree burns can be identified by whitening of the skin and a leather-like appearance.
Parental action: Place the burnt area under cool running water or place a clean cold cloth on the burn for about 2 to 3 minutes. Then wrap up the area with a bandage for a day. If the first-degree burn happens to be on the face, hand, shoulder or the genital area, don't treat the burn at home; see a doctor immediately. Second- and third-degree burns must be treated by a medical practitioner.
Does butter heal a burn? Can alcohol cure fever? Click the article below to know about such first aid myths.
Cuts and scrapes
Cuts and scrapes are the most common of accidents that can happen to your child.
Signs to look for: If the wound is shallow and not bleeding much, it is a superficial cut. When you see blood spurting from the wound, you will know it is a deep cut.
Parental action: For superficial cuts without much bleeding, wash the cut first and clean it with a mild soap. Dry the area and cover with a bandage to keep out dirt. After the wound starts to heal, you can do away with the bandage. If the bleeding continues for a while, press down with a bandage for over 10 minutes till it stops. If you notice that the wound is not healing in a couple of days, you must see a doctor.
On the other hand, if the cut is deep, cover it with a sterile bandage at once to reduce the flow of blood. If the bandage gets soaked in blood, put another bandage over it. Seek medical attention immediately as the cut may require stitches. Help your child hold the injured limb above his head or as high as possible to slow the bleeding.
Injuries caused by cleaning products
Though instances of injuries caused by household cleaning products are rare, they can cause serious injury to children when handled incorrectly. It is best to keep them out of reach.
Signs to look for: Your child may develop nausea or start vomiting if she has swallowed cleaning liquid. She may also be irritable because of a burn. Look for tell-tale signs and smells near the mouth, if you suspect that she may have swallowed something.
Parental action: Place the injured limb or the affected part of the body in water for at least 15 minutes as a first line of action. This should ease the pain till you see a doctor.
It is very common for a child to fall. What with the constant running, jumping about from one chair to another in class, sliding down the handrail of a staircase or skipping steps while climbing down, falling is an inevitable part of growing up.
Signs to look for: When your child has had a fall, look for cuts, scrapes, bumps and bruises.
Parental action: If your child has hurt herself from a fall, and you do not think the injury is serious, you must first comfort her. A cold compress can take care of a bump or bruise. Seek medical attention if you notice she is drowsy or if she complains of headache or vomits.
Items like non-prescriptive medicines and household cleaners can be poisonous. Children are curious by nature and may swallow pills, gulp the colourful cough syrups or cleaners stored in spray bottles, when left unsupervised. What do you do in such cases?
Signs to look for: Observe your child carefully to see if he has stomach pain, is vomiting or is more lethargic than usual. He may also feel faint or start losing vision.
Parental action: Accidental poisoning can be fatal at times. You must rush your child to a doctor as soon as you notice that he has consumed a non-prescription drug or a cleaning product.
Insect bites can be painful and itchy as well. They include bites by ants, spiders, bees, bugs and mosquitoes.
Signs to look for: Bites from mosquitoes and other insects like spiders can cause a red rash with itching. Very occasionally, the rash may break out into a severe allergy.
Parental action: Wash the area of the bite/rash with water. Apply calamine lotion to soothe the burning sensation caused by the bite. Keep your child from scratching the bite so that the itching sensation reduces. Appling an ice pack can also soothe the pain. If you think the rash is turning allergic, see a doctor.
Situation #8Sprains and fractures
A sprain can be caused by twisting a muscle while walking on an uneven surface. It can also be the result of a fall while running or playing. It is an uncommon injury amongst children. Fractures are often misdiagnosed as ankle sprains.
Signs to look for: If your child complains of pain and if you spot a bruise or swelling on the site of injury, it may be a sprain. When the site of injury is visibly swollen and she is unable to bear weight, it may be a fracture.
Parental action: A mild sprain will go away with RICE, which stands for rest, ice fomentation, compression and elevation. However, if your child is unable to move even after a few hours of rest or is in great pain, or the site of injury has turned numb, these signs are indicative of fracture and you must take her to a doctor immediately.
Most toddlers explore things by putting them in their mouth. This poses the risk of choking. Choking can result from swallowing a part of a toy, a coin or even a large morsel of food.
Signs to look for: If you are sure your child has swallowed something and is choking, the first step would be to check whether he is able to breathe. If he is unable to breathe, he will turn blue in the face or lose consciousness.
Parental action: If your child is breathing, you must encourage him to cough the object out. If he has stopped breathing, start back blows or chest thrusts immediately to try and dislodge the item he is choking on. At the same time, plan to rush him to a hospital.
If you can see the object stuck in the throat, try to remove it. Do not attempt to give him water to drink at any point as it may prove fatal.
For detailed instructions on first aid for choking, read the ClipBook below.
Accidental drowning is reportedly the number one cause of death amongst toddlers. A child can drown due to several reasons - by falling into a bucket of water or tripping into a pool.
Signs to look for: It is always advisable to monitor your child closely when he is in a pool or near a water body. If you observe him with his head tilted back and mouth open or if he is floating face down or gasping for air, he could be drowning. When he has been pulled out of the water, check to see if he is breathing by placing your ear near his mouth or nose. This can also be assessed by observing the chest.
Parental action: If you find that your child is unable to breathe, begin Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at once. At the same time, prepare to rush to the nearest hospital.
Watch the video below for clear instructions on how to perform a CPR.
The first aid kit
Every parent must have a first aid kit in the house. It does not have to be fancy; something simple, which will address most emergencies will do. Here are some of the items that need to be in your first aid kit.
- Dressing: Use an adhesive version for cuts and the non-adhesive version for burns.
- Bandages: This item is used to add pressure on the wound or to hold the dressing in place.
- Antiseptic solution: You can use this to disinfect small wounds and cuts.
- Equipment: You would need a pair of scissors, tweezers, safety pins, splints and disposable gloves.
For a comprehensive list of items to be included in your first aid kit, click the link below.