First aid for families

As a parent or caregiver you are usually the first on the scene to adminster first aid on your child.

This initial treatment can sometimes have a significant impact on the outcome of the childs recovery so ensuring you have basic first aid skills is essential.

Remember though, if it is an emergency, call 111.

Common first aid situations

Cuts and wounds

If the wound is bleeding, after washing your hands, apply gentle pressure with some clean cloth and elevate.  Once the bleeding has stoped you can clean it with tap water and remove any debris. Dry gently and if possible leave uncovered. Click here for more about how to treat cuts and wounds, especially deep ones.


The most important thing with burns is to cool the area by running it under cold water for up to 20 minutes. Once it well cooled and the pain is more bearable, cover the burn with a non-adherant sterile dressing. If you dont have one use clean kitchen plastic wrap. Cover the whole burn and try and eliminate any air as it is this that causes much of the ongoing pain. For more on burns click here.


Once your child starts on solid food or putting things in their mouth, choking can become a reality.  You might observe your baby gagging on their food or milk but that will resolve quickly. Your baby is choking when their arway becomes blocked and prevents them breathing. They will usually cough. Find out how to help your choking baby here.

First aid training

There are first aid training courses perfect for people who look after children. They cover things like making sure the scene is safe, CPR, choking,  resuscitation, and dealing with bleeding, fractures, burns, poisoning, seizures and anaphylaxis. Find a first aid course near you. 

Pain relief

You can purchase pain relief suitable for children over-the counter. They contain active ingredients that make them work in different ways, and so it’s best to administer a product containing an active ingredient that will specifically address your child’s symptoms.

The most common pain relief active ingredient for children in New Zealand are paracetamol and ibuprofen.

If you are having difficulty keeping your child’s pain in control between doses of analgesic (any medicine that is taken to relieve pain), you can give alternate doses of paracetamol and ibuprofen. You must still follow the dosage guide for each drug but you can give paracetamol and then follow two hours later, with a dose of ibuprofen.

Discuss this procedure with your pharmacist before beginning this routine and note that it is not recommended that children under one year take ibuprofen.

Alternating paracetamol and ibuprofen is not recommended if your child has a fever.


All about Nurofen for Children

Nurofen for Children is designed for children and infants from 3 months.

It contains ibuprofen, which starts providing relief from fever in just 15 minutes*, and lasts up to 8 hours.

Things to check before you use Nurofen for Children

Before using Nurofen for Children, if your child is under 12 months of age, check with your healthcare professional first. Always read the label and ensure you use the product and dose suitable for your child’s age.

How to use Nurofen for Children 

The Nurofen for Children range is designed to provide a Nurofen dose that’s appropriate for babies and children. In addition, all products in the range come with an easy dosing syringe, making it easier to you give your child the correct dose. For older children, (7 years plus) Nurofen for Children also has a Soft Chew Tablets.

The recommended dose of Nurofen for Children varies depending on the weight and age of your child. Start by selecting the right product for your child’s age range. Then, check the dosing guide on the back of the pack to determine the right dose for your child’s age and weight.

Doses should be given every 6–8 hours, as needed, with a maximum of 3 doses in 24 hours.

When to see a doctor

Medicines can help relieve pain for a while, but they don’t fix the underlying cause of pain.

See a doctor if your child’s pain lasts more than a few hours, or appears to be very severe, or your child is obviously unwell, it’s important to see a doctor. If in doubt, always see your doctor.

**Pelen F, et al. Annales de Pediatre 1998; 45(10): 719-28.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Do not give to babies under 3 months of age. Seek medical advice for children under 12 months of age.

When have you had to use your first aid skills?

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author robynWritten by Robyn Taylor

Robyn creates content on Kidspot NZ. Her hobbies include buying cleaning products and wondering why things don’t then clean themselves, eating cheese scones with her friends, and taking her kids to appointments. 

Favourite motto to live by: “This too will pass.”


  1. dawnblyth 02/06/2019 at 8:59 pm

    We have only ever had to use first aid skills on minor cuts and grazes. Our now 4 year old had an ulcerated birthmark on his buttock which caused a lot of pain for him. We learnt a lot from the district nurses of Nurse Maude who came regularly throughout the week to change his dressings.

  2. SarahBlair 02/06/2019 at 4:59 pm

    As a parent it so important to have an at least basic knowledge of first aid, kids are always getting themselves into difficult situations and you never know when your skills will be called upon.

    The chewable Nurofen sounds like something I should have in my first aid cupboard!

  3. candyjanenz 02/06/2019 at 3:18 pm

    My husband and I did a baby first aid course, which was so helpful. It is so easy for children to choke on something and when you live so far away from help you need to be able to know how to deal with this yourself.

  4. kymmage 01/06/2019 at 12:49 pm

    Having had my 2 day old baby choke on mucus at the birth Centre and being absolutely deer in the headlights in that moment, I now recommend first aid for all new parents. She turned almost black from the lack of oxygen and my husband ran her to a nurse. Luckily she was OK. But it was a heart stopping moment for sure.

  5. Alezandra 29/05/2019 at 9:29 pm

    I took a first aid course for Playcentre and I truly find having taken it is quite beneficial. The first thing is that it makes you feel calm, and of course knowledge is power. It also prepares you for any basic emergency, and know when to call 111 for real emergencies.

  6. MuddledUpMolly 28/05/2019 at 8:24 pm

    With a new four month old in our family, it’s always good to have a refresher on some of the more common ailments or issues. When I had my eldest daughter, I did a baby first aid course for free through plunket which was really beneficial.

  7. Micht 22/05/2019 at 9:49 pm

    Great information…learnt something new with the burn wrapping… will try next time… didnt know bout nurofen chews either…will keep that on my shopping list… thank you for the very handy tips.

  8. Shorrty4life1 20/05/2019 at 1:13 pm

    As a parent I used my first aide skills when my daughter had concussion. I asked what she felt straight after the bang to the head at school. She said blurred vision etc. Then she was seeing thing, major head pain and nausea. I toke her to A&E got sent her then she started vomiting so she was back again to,hospital and monitoring overnight. Since I have done level 2 first aide course for my nursing course and I honestly recommend it. Since then my hubby has had major head injury and badly concussed and I believe if I didn’t have the knowledge I’d be useless

  9. Mands1980 17/05/2019 at 12:07 pm

    I think as a parent you have to use all sorts of first aid skills when you hear them screaming you think the worst. We have had to use steri strips for bad cuts, dealt with choking children it’s a very very scary situation to deal with, burning hands so putting under water and way more cuts and bruises etc.

  10. Bevik1971 15/05/2019 at 9:34 am

    We had a bit of a scare when our daughter was about 6 weeks old, she vomited and then started choking on the vomit. Was really scary and we ended up calling an ambulance, she was ok in the end but still a yuk situation 🙁 With cuts and bruises we really don’t usually do much, maybe some Arnica cream or some panadol if really needed as I don’t like to use this much 🙂

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