Learn first aid for a baby or child who is having a febrile seizure

Febrile seizures are caused by a fever or high temperature. 

1. The baby or child having a febrile seizure may arch their back, stiffen their body and clench their fists. They will look red-faced, be hot to the touch and sweating.

You may also notice their eyes roll upwards and they may hold their breath.

2. Protect them from injury but do not restrain them.

Move things that could injure the baby or child while they are having a seizure. Use a blanket or clothing to protect their head.

3. Take off their outer clothing to help cool them.

Febrile seizures are caused by a raised temperature, so it is important to cool the baby or child. If the room is hot, open doors and windows to ensure there is a flow of fresh air.

4. When the seizure is over, help them to rest on their side with their head tilted back. 

If the symptoms continue or it is their first seizure, seek medical advice.

Helping them to lie on their side with their head back will help them to keep breathing.

Watch how to help a baby or child who is having a febrile seizure (1 minute 7 seconds)

Common questions about first aid for a child who is unresponsive and not breathing

Is there any way to prevent a febrile seizure?


How do I take clothes off a baby or child having a seizure?


Should I use an ice pack to cool them?


Should I give them a cold shower or bath to cool them?


How long does a febrile seizure usually last?


If my child has a febrile seizure and I cool them down, do I need to seek medical advice?


Who do febrile seizures affect?


 

Is there any way to prevent a febrile seizure?

Febrile seizures are usually caused by a fever as a result of a child being unwell.

If they have a fever, you need to reduce their temperature. This will reduce their chance of having a febrile seizure.

To reduce their temperature, remove their outer layers of clothing and any blankets. Giving them fluids such as water and juice will also help cool them, as will giving the recommended amount of paracetamol or ibuprofen syrup. Keep them in a cool environment, by opening windows and turning down central heating.

Back to questions

 

How do I take clothes off a baby or child having a seizure?

A child having a febrile seizure may be very stiff or moving a lot. Try to remove the clothes from one limb at a time.

Remain calm and gently remove the clothes without restraining them.

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Should I use an ice pack to cool them?

No, applying a frozen item to hot skin can be painful and distressing.

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Should I give them a cold shower or bath to cool them?

No, the cold water would be distressing and may cause hypothermia.

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How long does a febrile seizure usually last?

Seizures are usually a few minutes long, but the length varies.

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If my child has a febrile seizure and I cool them down, do I need to seek medical advice?

Seek medical advice if you are ever in doubt or it is the child’s first seizure.

If you think the situation is under control and your child is improving, you may not need to call 999. Call NHS 111 or your GP if you still want medical advice.

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Who do febrile seizures affect?

Febrile seizures mainly affect babies and children aged six months to three years old.

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Email us if you have any other questions about first aid for a baby or child who is having a febrile seizure.