Emergency First Aid for Babies and Toddlers

Poisoning, Head Injuries & Near Drowning

Poisoning -- DO:

  • Call Poison Control at 800-222-1222 if your child is awake, alert, and you know what she's consumed. "Nine times out of 10 the poison control center will tell you that it's okay to stay home," says G. Randall Bond, MD, medical director of the Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center. Otherwise, you'll be told whether to go to the ER or call 911.
  • Head to the ER if you don't know what your child took. Also, if she swallowed loose pills and you don't know what they're for, take any leftover medication with you to the hospital. Doctors may figure out what it is with software that analyzes the drug based on its attributes, such as color and size.
  • Call 911 whenever your child is unconscious, convulsing, or having difficulty breathing.

Poisoning -- DON'T:

  • Give your child syrup of ipecac or activated charcoal. In 2003, the American Academy of Pediatrics stopped recommending that parents stock syrup of ipecac in the home, and while activated charcoal is being researched as a possible substitute, it's not currently recommended.

Head Injuries -- DO:

  • Apply an ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the bump.
  • Call your doctor if your child won't stop crying, complains of neck or head pain, if she lost consciousness even for a few seconds, if her behavior seems "off," if she can't keep her balance, or if she is an infant -- babies can't tell you if they're in pain or don't feel well.
  • Go to the ER if she vomits, has a seizure, is unusually hyperactive or sleepy, or if her pupils are unevenly dilated or don't seem to react to light.

Head Injuries -- DON'T:

  • Move your child if she's unconscious or can't get up. If she has a spine injury, moving her can worsen it.

Near Drowning -- DO:

  • Check for breathing, taking no longer than 10 seconds. If you don't feel or hear normal breathing -- not gasps or sporadic breaths -- start CPR immediately.

Near Drowning -- DON'T:

  • Worry about removing water from the airway -- it won't obstruct the effectiveness of the CPR.

Meagan Francis, the mother of four sons, lives in Williamston, Michigan.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, June 2006.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

Parents Are Talking

Add a Comment