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First aid every parent should know

Every parent learns to expect the unexpected. Accidents happen, so it helps to have a basic understanding of first aid in case your child gets hurt. Here’s the lowdown on the skills you should have in your repertoire.

Mother learning to give infant CPR


If there’s one skill every parent should learn, it’s CPR. If something happens to your child that causes them to stop breathing, follow these steps:

Tip: If you’re not sure how to give full CPR, just focus on the compressions. Try to do 100 hard and fast compressions a minute until medical staff show up.
  1. Lay your child on a flat, firm surface.
  2. Place your hands (one on top of the other) on the centre of their chest.
  3. With your shoulders directly over your hands and straight arms, do 30 compressions. Make sure your compressions are firm and fast — this is no time to be gentle.
  4. Then pinch your child’s nose, and place your mouth tightly over theirs. Give them two deep breaths.
  5. Repeat until help arrives.


The signs of poisoning vary depending on the type of poison that has been absorbed by the body. If your child has burned lips or swelling skin or is experiencing breathing difficulties or seizures, they may have ingested a poison of some sort. Call an ambulance right away, and don’t give them water or induce vomiting unless you’ve been instructed to do so. Then find out what and how much poison was taken, and keep a vial of it to give to medical staff.


Bee stings

Bee and wasp stings are usually unexpected, and as such, they can give your child a bit of a shock. As a parent, your job is to remain calm. The first step is to remove the stinger by scraping it off with a ruler or something similar. Don’t try to pull it out. Then wash the area thoroughly, and apply an ice pack to help with swelling or pain. If your child has been stung anywhere on the face or neck, get medical help.

Want to sharpen your skills? Learn the value of taking a first aid and CPR course >>



Kids are natural explorers, and they love putting things into their mouths. If one of their “adventures” goes wrong and they end up choking, it’s important to spring into action right away. If your child can speak or breathe, encourage them to cough. If they fall unconscious, call an ambulance, and begin compressions using the CPR technique above. If your child is conscious but can’t breathe or cough, follow these steps:

Isolated first aid kit

  1. Using your arms, support your child’s upper body, and help them lean forward.
  2. Using the heel of your hand, give them five sharp blows right between the shoulder blades.
  3. If the object doesn’t dislodge, move behind the child. Position your fist just above their belly button, and push inward and upward five times.
  4. Keep alternating between the back blows and tummy thrusts until the item comes out.


A child’s skin is much more delicate than an adult’s, so any burns or even minor scalds need immediate attention. If your baby or child gets burned, the first thing to do is run cold water over the area for 20–30 minutes. Once the burn has cooled down a bit, loosely wrap the area in a clean cloth, like a pillowcase or bedsheet. Call your doctor for advice, or if the burns are severe, call an ambulance.



Sit your child down, and ask them to lean forward. Pinch the bottom part of their nose firmly, and maintain pressure for around 10 minutes. If the bleeding still hasn’t stopped by that point, keep pinching until it does. If it goes on for longer than half an hour, seek medical help. Whatever you do, don’t ask your child to blow their nose. The flow will stop when it’s ready.

Learn more to stay safe

Accidents do happen, so every parent should make it a priority to learn first aid. If you’re ready to take a course, St. John Ambulance has great teaching centres all over Canada. In the meantime, download the first aid fact sheets on Baby Center and

More safety tips

First aid kits
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Tips for keeping children safe at home

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