First aid for sprains and strains in children and babies

First aid essentials: Treating sprains and strains in children and babies

Being prepared for any situation is paramount when caring for our little ones. Sprains and strains are common mishaps children experience, often during play or exploration. Understanding how to provide immediate first aid can significantly affect their recovery. In this blog, Rose delves into the essentials of administering first aid for sprains and strains in children and babies, ensuring you're equipped to handle such incidents confidently.

Key facts and statistics

  • According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), over 700,000 children under 15 are taken to accident and emergency departments annually due to accidents.
  • Many of these incidents involve musculoskeletal injuries, including sprains and strains.

Key definitions

  • Sprain - A stretch or tear in a ligament, the tissue that connects bones.
  • Strain - An injury to a muscle or tendon, the tissue that connects muscles to bones.

Legislation, regulations, and best practice

  • The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 stipulate that employers should provide adequate first aid facilities in the workplace, including provisions for children where applicable.
  • The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends assessing and managing musculoskeletal conditions, which may include guidance on first aid for sprains and strains in children and babies.

Recognising sprains and strains

  • Symptoms may include pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty moving the affected area.
  • It's crucial to differentiate between sprains and strains as treatment approaches may vary.

Immediate first aid steps

RICE method

  • Rest - Encourage the child to rest the injured limb to prevent further damage.
  • Ice - Apply a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a cloth to reduce swelling and alleviate pain.
  • Compression - Use an elastic bandage to compress the injured area gently, but ensure it's not too tight to restrict blood flow.
  • Elevation - Elevate the injured limb above heart level to reduce swelling.

Pain management

  • Administer over-the-counter pain relief suitable for children, following appropriate dosage guidelines.

Seek medical assistance

  • If the injury is severe, or if there are concerns about a possible fracture, seek medical attention promptly.


  • Enrol in a paediatric first aid course to gain comprehensive knowledge and practical skills in handling emergencies involving children.
  • Regularly review and update your first aid supplies to ensure you're prepared for any situation.


Injuries are inevitable in childhood, but with proper first aid knowledge and preparedness, we can mitigate their impact and facilitate swift recovery. By familiarising yourself with the steps outlined in this article, you're taking a proactive step towards safeguarding the well-being of the children and babies in your care.

Click here to equip yourself with the skills to provide effective first aid for children and babies by enrolling in our paediatric first aid training course today.

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.

Treating sprains and strains in children and babies - ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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