First aid for hypothermia in children and babies

First aid treatment for hypothermia in children and babies: A crucial guide

Hypothermia in children and babies is a serious concern, especially in colder climates or during outdoor activities. Understanding how to recognise and effectively treat hypothermia can be life-saving. In this blog, Rose delves into the key aspects of first aid treatment for both mild and severe hypothermia in children and babies, highlighting the importance of prompt action and proper care.

Key facts and statistics

  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), hypothermia contributes to approximately 1.7 million deaths annually worldwide.
  • Children and babies are particularly vulnerable to hypothermia due to their smaller size and higher surface area-to-volume ratio.
  • In the UK, hypothermia-related deaths are more prevalent in infants and young children during winter months, underscoring the need for awareness and preparedness.

Key definitions

  • Hypothermia - A medical emergency where the body loses heat faster than it can produce it, leading to dangerously low body temperatures.
  • Mild hypothermia - When the body temperature drops below normal (typically below 35°C), but remains above 32°C.
  • Severe hypothermia - When the body temperature falls below 32°C, resulting in critical health risks and potentially fatal consequences.

Relevant legislation, regulations, and best practice

  • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides guidelines on workplace safety, including measures to prevent hypothermia in children and babies.
  • The Care Quality Commission (CQC) mandates healthcare providers to ensure proper temperature control in medical settings to prevent hypothermia among vulnerable patients.
  • Best practice recommendations from organisations like the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) emphasise the importance of early recognition and intervention in cases of pediatric hypothermia.

Recognising hypothermia symptoms

  • Signs of hypothermia in children and babies include shivering, cold or pale skin, lethargy, and confusion.
  • Severe symptoms may progress to unconsciousness, weak pulse, and shallow breathing.

First aid treatment for mild hypothermia

  • Move to a warm environment - Bring the child indoors or to a sheltered area away from cold and wind.
  • Remove wet clothing - Replace wet clothing with dry layers to prevent further heat loss.
  • Wrap in blankets or warm clothing - Use blankets, coats, or any available insulation to gradually warm the child.
  • Offer warm fluids - Encourage drinking warm liquids (not hot) to help raise body temperature.

First aid treatment for severe hypothermia

  • Call emergency services -Seek professional medical assistance immediately.
  • Handle gently - Avoid rough handling as it can trigger cardiac arrest in severe cases.
  • Start CPR if necessary - Begin CPR if the child shows no signs of breathing or pulse.
  • Use passive external warming techniques - Apply external heat sources such as warmed blankets or hot water bottles, avoiding direct contact with the skin.


  • Education and preparedness - Educate caregivers, teachers, and childcare providers on recognising hypothermia symptoms and administering first aid.
  • Regular training - Conduct regular first aid training sessions to ensure individuals are equipped with the necessary skills to respond effectively to hypothermia emergencies involving children and babies.
  • Proper clothing and shelter - Encourage parents to dress children appropriately for outdoor activities and provide adequate shelter in cold weather conditions.


Ensuring prompt and appropriate first aid treatment for hypothermia in children and babies is paramount for their well-being and survival. By familiarising ourselves with the signs, symptoms, and proper interventions, we can protect our little ones and prevent potentially life-threatening situations. Let's all commit to staying informed, prepared, and vigilant in safeguarding the health and safety of our children.

Click here to explore our comprehensive first aid training courses and equip yourself with the skills and knowledge to effectively respond to medical emergencies, including hypothermia in children and babies.

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 hypothermia in children and babies - ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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