Baby and toddler safety
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Katrina Phillips
Baby proofing and Child Safety Expert. Chief Executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust.
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Burns and scalds

Getting a burn is the most common reason that babies and toddlers end up in hospital. Burns usually occur from things like a hot cup of tea falling, or a baby finding a hot hair straightener on the bathroom floor.
Video Tutorial
In Short
Run the burn under cold water for at least 10 minutes - time it - this is longer than you'd think.

If the burn is larger than the size of your baby's hand - or if severe - go straight to A&E/ ER.

Baby burns

If your baby gets a burn:

  • Run the affected area under cold water for at least 10 minutes or until the pain has gone away – whichever is longest.
  • This is a lot longer than you think – so time it if you possibly can.
  • Don’t burst blisters.
  • After the water treatment, cover with cling film.
  • If the burn is larger than 1% of their body (larger than their palm) go straight to the hospital.
  • Call the ambulance if severe.

Learn how to perform first aid on a burn or scald.

Burns are one of the most common accidents with babies and children so it’s really important as a parent to know how treat them properly and fast.

Levels of severity of burn

There are three levels of severity of burn:

  • A superficial burn which is just a bit red and a bit sore.
  • A partial thickness burn, which has started to blister.
  • A full thickness burn which may be blackened or charred or may be white and waxy.

One of the most common is a partial thickness burn with some blistering. The baby will probably be experiencing quite a lot of pain. The treatment is the same for all three types.

You need to get the heat out of the burn. The easiest way of doing this is by running the burn underneath the cold water for at least ten minutes or until the pain goes away , whichever one is longest. Bring the casualty’s arm nicely under the tap and begin to run the water over it from the top and let that water cascade all over the burn. Her arm and her hand might start to get a bit cold but we’ve got to get the heat out of that burn.

It’s important to realise that things we shouldn’t do are to burst any blisters in the burn and we certainly shouldn’t use anything like butter or toothpaste on a burn as this will not treat it and will probably make the pain even worse.

If it’s been run under the cold water for long enough and the heat’s been taken out you can safely cover that burn with something that’s not fluffy – such as cling film or a clean plastic bag. If the burn is larger than 1% of the patients body surface area, which equates to one of your baby’s hands then that burn should be taken to hospital for further assessment.

  • Run burn under water for at least 10 minutes.
  • If burn larger than size of patient’s hand, or severe, cover burn and take patient to hospital.

*Photo from our accident prevention partner the Child Accident Prevention Trust

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This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.