First aid for asthma attacks in children and babies

First aid treatment for asthma attacks in children and babies: A guide for caregivers

Asthma is a prevalent respiratory condition affecting millions worldwide, with children and babies particularly vulnerable. As caregivers, understanding how to administer first aid during an asthma attack is crucial. In this blog, Rose delves into the comprehensive guide, equipping you with the essential knowledge to respond effectively and confidently in such emergencies.

Key facts and statistics

  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), asthma affects approximately 339 million people globally, with an increasing prevalence among children.
  • In the UK, around 1.1 million children under the age of 18 are receiving treatment for asthma, as reported by Asthma UK.
  • Asthma attacks in children and babies can be triggered by various factors, including allergens, respiratory infections, and exposure to tobacco smoke.

Key definitions

  • Asthma - A chronic respiratory condition characterised by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
  • Asthma attack - Sudden worsening of asthma symptoms, resulting in severe breathing difficulties and potentially life-threatening complications.

Relevant legislation, regulations, and best practice

  • The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 in the UK require employers to provide adequate first aid training and resources to ensure prompt and effective response to medical emergencies, including asthma attacks.
  • The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines outline best practices for managing asthma in children and recommend appropriate first aid interventions during acute exacerbations.

Recognising the signs of an asthma attack

  • Rapid breathing
  • Wheezing sounds
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Retraction of chest muscles
  • Bluish discoloration of lips and nails

Immediate actions during an asthma attack

  • Stay calm - Reassure the child and maintain a calm demeanor to prevent escalation of anxiety.
  • Administer rescue inhaler - Encourage the child to use their prescribed reliever inhaler (e.g., salbutamol) if available.
  • Assist with inhaler use - For babies and young children unable to use inhalers independently, utilise a spacer device or nebuliser for effective drug delivery.
  • Position for comfort - Sit the child upright, leaning slightly forward, to ease breathing.
  • Loosen tight clothing - Remove any constrictive clothing that may hinder breathing.

Seeking medical assistance

  • If symptoms persist or worsen despite initial interventions, seek urgent medical attention.
  • Dial emergency services (999 in the UK) or promptly visit the nearest healthcare facility.
  • Provide relevant medical history and details of recent asthma management.


Ensuring prompt and appropriate first aid measures during asthma attacks in children and babies can significantly improve outcomes and prevent complications. By familiarising yourself with the signs, actions, and best practices outlined in this guide, you are better equipped to respond effectively in emergency situations.

Click here to explore our accredited training courses to empower yourself with essential first aid skills. Remember, being prepared saves lives. Stay informed, stay safe.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always seek professional medical assistance in emergency situations.

About the author

Rose Mabiza

Rose has dedicated over 15 years to improving health and social care quality through practice, targeted education and training. Her extensive experience includes working with older adults, individuals with mental health conditions, and people with autism and learning disabilities.

First aid treatment for asthma attacks in children and babies: A guide for caregivers - ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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