First Aid Advice Every Parent Should Know

From tumbles and falls to tummy aches and toothaches, parents worry about any potential ailments that may befall their kids throughout their childhood.

“A parent’s worst nightmare is having a sick or injured child,”says Karen T. Stokes, Pediatric Educator at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center and Safe Kids Coordinator for the Historic Triangle Williamsburg. While some situations require immediate medical attention, there are ways you can treat minor conditions right at home. Here is a breakdown of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to your children and their health:


Most pediatricians consider a body temperature of 100.4° F or higher a fever, but “the way a child looks and acts is more important than how high the temperature is,” points out Stokes. She advises moms and dads to remain calm and think about the “ABCs”: appearance, breathing and circulation. “Is your child alert and interactive or inconsolable and lethargic?” Stokes asks. For a minor fever, dress your child in light clothing and ensure he or she is hydrated with cold fluids. “Do not use aspirin to treat a child’s fever,” Stokes says. Pain relievers such as Tylenol are fine, but make sure you give the correct dosage based on your child’s age.

Ear Infections:

Before rushing to the doctor for an earache, consider pain medication or applying heat, such as a warm washcloth, to the ear.


For short-term relief of a toothache until you can see your dentist, use a saltwater rinse (a half teaspoon of table salt to eight ounces of water), ice or a cold compress. Clove oil rubbed on the tooth is a natural remedy that numbs the pain. “If a permanent tooth is knocked out, handle the tooth by the top and not the root,” says Stokes. After gently cleaning the tooth, “place the tooth in egg white or coconut water, milk or a saline solution and transport the tooth with the child when seeking emergency care.”

Stomach Aches:

Most stomach issues aren’t serious and symptoms pass quickly. Natural remedies for nausea include cinnamon, fennel and mint. Ginger can also ease stomach issues, so sipping a glass of ginger ale may help. Or try the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) diet to alleviate nausea or diarrhea.
Cuts/Scrapes: Wash your hands to avoid infection, then use a wet cloth to stop any bleeding. “For bleeding, apply gauze with direct pressure over the bleeding area for one to two minutes,” says Stokes. When bleeding ceases, clean the area with soap and water and apply an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin. Cover with a sterile bandage. Change dressing daily if necessary. A deep wound through the skin that exposes fat or muscle will require stitches. Watch for signs of infection that include increased pain in the affected area, drainage, warmth or swelling.

Bug Bites/Bee Stings:

Remove the stinger from the skin as quickly as possible, and apply an ice pack to the bite for 15-20 minutes once an hour for the first six hours. Elevate the area to decrease swelling. Use a hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion or antihistamine to relieve itching, redness and swelling.


For minor burns, run cool (not cold) tap water over the affected area for 10-15 minutes. Do not use ice or butter because they may damage skin tissue. Do not break blisters. If a blister does break, gently clean the area with soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment and cover with gauze. Applying aloe vera lotion can also bring relief. Seek immediate medical help for major burns.
Stokes suggests being prepared for any potential situation by placing emergency numbers, including the number for the Poison Control Center, in convenient areas such as near the phone, on the fridge and in your purse, as well as stocking a first-aid kit in your house and in your vehicle.

Your kit should contain:

  • Bandages of different sizes
  • Gauze
  • Adhesive cloth tape
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Pain-relieving medicines
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Latex Gloves
  • Cold Compress

About the author

Brandy Centolanza

Brandy Centolanza is a freelance writer who has contributed regularly to The Health Journal since 2005. She covers health, travel, parenting, education and community issues for several publications in Hampton Roads and Richmond. Brandy lives in James City County with her husband, two children and two cats.