First aid first: how to help your child before going to A&E

Last updated 28 June 2021

Every parent has been there. Your child may have a fall, or a fever. Is it serious? You just can't be sure. So you head straight to A&E, just in case.

Fevers and falls: the top reason why parents visit A&E

British Red Cross research has found that two of the main reasons parents take their children to A&E are falls and fevers.

And over 40 per cent of parents said they brought their children to A&E because they were worried and didn't know what to do.

The research also found that more than half of parents ask for advice before going to A&E. That’s where we can help.

Trying some #FirstAidFirst when a baby or child is ill or injured could help you find out what’s wrong. It can also help you relieve symptoms and know whether or not they need to go to hospital.

Our online first aid advice and baby and child first aid app provide clear, easy steps to follow whenever your little one is poorly or hurt.

And our first aid for baby and child course will give you further peace of mind.

Here is some simple first aid advice for fever and falls:

What to do when your baby or child has a fever

  1. The first thing to do is check the child’s temperature with a thermometer. If it is above 37°C, your child has a fever. They may have flushed skin and be sweating.
  2. Reduce their temperature: remove excess clothing and give the baby or child a drink, such as water, diluted juice or their normal milk.
  3. You can also give the recommended dose of paracetamol syrup.
  4. If a child has a temperature above 39° – or above 38° for a baby less than six months old – seek medical advice.
Duration of video: 1 min

What to do when your baby or child bumps their head

When children bump their head, they may be in pain and get a headache. There may also be a lump on the head and they may look pale.

  1. Get the child to rest and put something cold on the injury. This could be frozen vegetables or a bag of ice wrapped in a tea towel. Applying something cold to the injury for up to twenty minutes will reduce external swelling and pain. 
  2. Call 999 if the child gets drowsy, repeatedly vomits or their condition get worse. This could be a sign of a serious injury to the head. If you can’t call 999, get someone else to do it.  

    If the injury has happened when playing sports, they must not return to sport until they have been seen by a medical professional.  

What to do if your child has a sprain or strain

If your little one twists an ankle or overstretches part of the body, they may have a sprain or strain.

They may feel pain around the injury and it can start to swell. A bruise may also develop.

  1. Get your child to rest the injured part of their body.
  2. Put an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables on the injury for up to 10 minutes.
  3. You can also give them the recommended dose of paracetamol syrup.
  4. If their injury doesn’t improve, seek medical advice.
Duration of video: 1 min

A&E is always there in an emergency

Your GP, pharmacist, walk-in centre or NHS 111 can also help when your child is hurt or ill.

But you can do a lot as well.

Try #FirstAidFirst before taking your child to A&E. It can help you find out what’s wrong so you’ll know what to do.

Maybe you’ll decide you don’t need to take your child to hospital after all.

Or maybe you’ll help them calm down and feel a little better for the trip to A&E.

Both are good news for you and your child.

So give yourself some peace of mind – try first aid first.