We review the British Red Cross First aid for baby and child course

First aid kit

As a soon-to-be mum, I realised that I would be almost totally responsible for ensuring the safety of our baby when it arrives. I’ve have never undertaken any first aid training so had no idea about the basics of CPR etc., never mind on a baby.

The fear of having no idea what to do in an emergency made me have a look around at what courses are available. My local NCT group wasn’t running a course for four months and I couldn’t find details of a specific baby and child course with St John Ambulance. So I visited the British Red Cross website. It’s not the easiest site to use but I soon booked a place on their First aid for baby and child course.

What does the course cover?

Looking at the course’s content, I felt it would give a good grounding in how to deal with most emergencies specific to babies and children. The website said it would cover:

  • Dealing with an emergency
  • Unconsciousness (breathing and not breathing)
  • Choking
  • Bleeding
  • Burns & scalds
  • Sprains & strains
  • Seizures
  • Head injuries
  • Swallowing harmful substance
  • Drowning
  • Raised temperature
  • Meningitis
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Diarrhoea & vomiting
  • Where to get help

I expected the day to be a long and fairly serious one, and was prepared for several hours of being lectured. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Our trainer was a lot of fun and very lively, which kept momentum going throughout the day. He explained his background and experience, mainly working with young people in sport, so we felt reassured that he had used some of the techniques we were about to learn.

There were six people in the class and it felt very relaxed, so it was really easy to ask questions. There was a mix of couples expecting babies, a mother with a young baby and someone training in child first aid for work.

On the day we went through each of the topics listed on their website, but focused on some key areas, such as CPR and bleeding. The tutor also took extra time to cover areas that members of our group were particularly worried about.

There were a lot of practical elements to the course, which we practised on our training dolls and each other, and the trainer checked we were using the techniques properly. The practical side of things was supported with a PowerPoint presentation and videos, which kept the day interactive and engaging. The trainer’s experience also really helped us understand how children think about injury, rather than just how to treat injuries.

" I felt much more confident that I could deal with an emergency involving a child or baby"

Because of the focus on CPR and bleeding, we only covered other topics, like swallowing harmful substances, very briefly. However, I felt we’d grasped the key elements of dealing with an emergency and the later topics were simply about dealing with different situations.

I did my course at the Abingdon Centre near Oxford, which was nice and modern and there was even a screened area in the room just in case anyone wanted to breastfeed or for a baby to sleep. It wasn’t clear from the booking form that you could do this (in fact the website says no children!) so I would recommend calling the centre you wish to attend before booking if you want to do this.

Was it worth it?

At the end of the day I felt much more confident that I could deal with an emergency involving a child or baby. The trainer gave us a first aid book (which isn’t normally included in the course package) to take away, plus details of online videos to access as a refresher. The trainer also encouraged us to share these with friends and family.

I’ll definitely look at the book and the videos again before my baby arrives so everything’s fresh in my mind. Not every trainer will give out the first aid book so I would recommend taking a pen and paper for notes. A few days later, I also received a wallet-sized certificate saying I’d completed the course.

Further information and how to book a course

It’s very simple to book online, however, as I booked close to the course date I don’t think I received all the pre-joining information, for example I didn’t have anything with the address of the training center on it.

Price: The course cost £37.50 per person in their Abingdon branch but the price varies by venue.

Venues: The website says there are 40 venues across the country offering this course. I live in Milton Keynes and had the choice of London or Abingdon, which wasn’t ideal.

Duration: The courses are run very frequently (Abingdon has one at least once a month). We booked the five-hour one-day course but there are also evening courses spread over two nights. I’d recommend checking the start time with the actual centre before setting off as our letter said 9am prompt start but the centre didn’t open until then and the course actually began at 9.15am.

If you can’t attend a course the British Red Cross provide lots of free information that will give you the basics of first aid. Look out for:

  • British Red Cross free training courses with Tesco’s Baby & Toddler Club. These are more of a lecture format, but I might attend for a refresher and they should provide a good basic overview for anyone without any training, or for those who understand first aid for adults and need to know the differences for children.
  • Videos and online information.
  • Your final Bounty pack will contain a form to send off for a free British Red Cross baby first aid kit, so keep an eye out for that and make sure you request it!

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