Sophie: At my last job I was designated First Aider – it came with a pay rise, I got a day off each year to do my refresher course and I only had to deal with two minor cuts and one concussion in 5 years, well worth it. But now that it is my child I will be looking after, I’m taking it a bit more seriously! And after a week of nosebleeds, ear infections and sore throats I realize that my medicine cabinet and first aid kit are seriously lacking.
St John Ambulance say that a first aid kit should contain the following:
- Assorted waterproof plasters
- 2 sterile eye pads
- 1 crepe bandage
- 4 triangular bandages
- 6 medium sterile dressing pads
- 2 large sterile dressing pads
- 2 pairs sterile gloves
- 1 pair paramedic (tough-cut) scissors
- 6 alcohol-free wipes
- 6 safety pins
But let’s be honest, I would swap all of the above for a single bottle of Calpol (other paracetamol suspensions are available). So what is important for a mother’s first aid kit?
Painkillers – Make sure you have an age-appropriate painkiller that contains paracetamol or ibuprofen, which can be used for headaches and fevers. You will also need a measuring spoon or, for younger children, a no-needle dosing syringe. Always follow the dosage instructions on the label.
Antiseptic cream or spray – This can be applied to cuts, grazes or minor burns after cleaning to help prevent infection. Some may also contain a mild local anesthetic to numb the pain.
Calamine lotion – This can help to soothe itching irritated skin, rashes (including chicken pox) and sunburn.
Antihistamine cream – This can reduce swelling and soothe insect bites and stings.
Digital thermometers are quick to use, accurate and can be used under the armpit (always use the thermometer under the armpit with children under five). Hold your child’s arm against his or her body and leave the thermometer in place for the time stated in the manufacturer’s instructions.
Ear (or tympanic) thermometers are put in the child’s ear. They take the child’s temperature in one second and do not disturb the child, but they’re expensive. Ear thermometers may give low readings when not correctly placed in the ear, so read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and familiarise yourself with how the thermometer works (this applies to all thermometers).
Strip-type thermometers, which you hold on your child’s forehead, are not an accurate way of taking their temperature. They show the temperature of the skin, not the body.
Mercury-in-glass thermometers haven’t been used in hospitals for some years and are no longer available to buy. They can break, releasing small shards of glass and highly poisonous mercury. Do not use mercury thermometers. If your child is exposed to mercury, get medical advice immediately.
Antiseptic wipes – These are a handy way to clean cuts and grazes and help prevent infection. To use them, take a fresh wipe and clean the wound, gently working away from the centre to remove dirt and germs.
Saline solution and an eye bath – This is useful for washing specks of dust or foreign bodies out of sore eyes.
- Small pair of scissors for cutting down plasters and tape to size.
- Tweezers to remove thorns, splinters and bee stings.
- Ice packs or gel packs can be kept in the fridge and applied to bumps and bruises to relieve swelling. A packet of frozen peas is just as good, but wrap it in a clean tea towel before applying it to skin. Direct contact with ice can cause a ‘cold burn’.
- Marker pen. All lotions and medicines have a used by date printed on the bottle but some also have an open use date e.g. use within 12 months of opening. If this is the case, make sure to write on the label when the bottle was opened, especially if it only gives you this information on an accompanying pamphlet (which may find its way into the bin long before the bottle itself!).
It’s also important to consider what you will be putting your first aid kit into. Choose a waterproof, durable box that’s easy to carry; it’s much easier to take the box to the child than the child to the box. The box should have a childproof lock and be tall enough to carry bottles of lotion. Keep the box out of the reach of children, but handy for adults. You don’t want to be hunting for your first aid kit when a child is injured and frightened. You can either buy a first aid box (green with a white cross) or (if you’re like me and love a craft project) make up your own box. Whichever way you go make sure it says ‘First Aid’ on it so if you aren’t around, other people know what it is. If someone else is caring for your children, let them know where the kit is kept.
Remember to keep your first aid box up to date. Replace items when stocks have been depleted and check use-by dates of all medicines. Throw away anything past its use-by date. You can take any out-of-date medicines to a pharmacy, which will dispose of them safely.
For more information on first aid for babies visit NHS choices HERE.
There are many specialized First Aid courses available through various agencies but two recognized providers are:
Red Cross – First Aid for Babies and Children – £37.50
St John Ambulance – First Aid for All Ages – £30
First Aid Angels in Basingstoke
Safety at Home
Emergency First Aid Course for Babies and Children