First aid for babies and children:
severe allergic reaction / anaphylaxis
Watch the video, in which a child is treated for a severe allergic reaction, and remind yourself of the key steps below.
Common causes of a severe allergic reaction are the injection of a drug, pollens, some food items such as nuts, shellfish or eggs, and stings and bites.
1 The baby or child may develop a red, blotchy rash, itchiness or swelling on their hands, feet or face. Their breathing may slow down. Learn more
Vomiting and diarrhoea can also occur.
Close 2 When you observe any of these symptoms, call 999. Learn more
The baby or child needs urgent medical assistance. An allergic reaction can affect someone very quickly, and is potentially very serious as it may result in swelling of their airway, which causes them to stop breathing.
Close 3 When there is a known allergy, use their auto-injector, following the recommended guidance. Learn more
Once an allergy has been identified, the doctor may provide the baby or child with an auto-injector. Tell the ambulance personnel if the auto-injector has been used.
Close 4 Reassure the baby or child, and make them as comfortable as possible while you wait for the ambulance.
Send us your stories
We love to hear from people who have stepped forward to help in a first aid emergency. If you have a first aid story that you'd be happy to share, please email
email@example.com including your name, telephone number and some brief details about what happened.
The British Red Cross will only use your information to contact you about your first aid story.