"How I helped my baby having a febrile seizure"


Last updated 10 May 2023

Would you be able to spot a baby or child having a febrile seizure?

Luckily for 18-month-old Maia from Swindon, her mum Leanne had taken a British Red Cross first aid course and knew just what to do.

Back when Maia was six months old, Leanne decided to take a first aid course with the British Red Cross.

It was a good decision. When Maia suffered a febrile seizure, Leanne was able to give her daughter exactly the help she needed.

An ordinary day

Leanne had been visiting her mum in Evesham on the day of Maia’s seizure.

"Maia was feeling unwell and had a bit of a temperature but it wasn’t enough for me to be concerned about. She was playing and seemed perfectly fine otherwise," Leanne said.

Later when Maia fell asleep on the sofa, Leanne tucked her in with a blanket thinking a nap might be just what she needed.

Not long after, Leanne caught sight of Maia moving. But something was amiss.

"I thought she was waking up but as I got closer I could see she was actually shaking.

"I touched her and could feel her temperature had spiked. When I saw her eyes roll back, I realised she was having a febrile seizure."

Putting knowledge into practice

Leanne knew what to do because of what she had learned during her first aid course.

"I immediately took off the blanket to cool her down and moved her onto the floor to protect her from injuring herself.

"My mum was there with me so I told her to call an ambulance."

"Once the seizure was over, Leanne took action to further reduce Maia's temperature.

"I stripped her down to her vest and while waiting for the ambulance to arrive, turned her on her side with her head tilted back."

The paramedics soon arrived on the scene and monitored Maia and her temperature, before advising a visit to the GP the next day.

What is a febrile seizure?

Febrile seizures are caused by a fever or high temperature. Most febrile seizures happen to babies and children between the ages of six months and three years. At this age, the part of the brain that regulates body temperature hasn’t fully developed yet.

A febrile seizure may look frightening but as Leanne's story shows, simple actions can help:

The baby or child having a febrile seizure may be less responsive or unresponsive, arch their back, clench their fists, stiffen their body, and may shake vigorously. They may look red-faced, be hot to the touch, and sweating. You may also notice their eyes roll upwards and they may hold their breath.

  1. Protect the baby or child from injury. Do not restrain them. Move things that could injure the baby or child while they are having a seizure. Use pillows or soft paddings, such as a blanket or clothing, to protect their head 
  2. 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. 
  3. When the seizure is over, help them to rest on their side with their head tilted back. Call 999 for emergency help. Helping them to lie on their side with their head back will help them to keep breathing. Monitor and reassure them until help arrives 

Having the confidence to act

No one wants to be in a situation where a child is hurt or unwell and you don’t know what to do.

The first aid for baby and child course Leanne attended gave her the knowledge and skills to treat a febrile seizure, but importantly it also gave her the confidence to act. Leanne said:

"I'm grateful that I had attended a baby and child first aid course which meant I knew what to look out for and how to deal with a febrile seizure. Because of my first aid knowledge, I felt confident that I was able to stay calm and help Maia."

Maia soon made a full recovery and was quickly back to her happy, playful self.

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