First aid treatment for poisoning in children and babies

First aid essentials: How to handle poisoning in children and babies

Ensuring the safety and well-being of children and babies is paramount, especially when it comes to potential hazards like poisoning. According to recent statistics from the National Health Service (NHS), poisoning is one of the leading causes of accidents in children under five years old. As caregivers and responsible adults, it's crucial to know how to respond swiftly and effectively in such emergencies. In this blog, Rose delves into essential first aid treatment for poisoning in children and babies, covering key facts, legislation, regulations, and best practices.

Key facts and statistics

  • Poisoning accounts for a significant number of accidents in children under five years old, with household cleaning products, medications, and plants being common culprits.
  • Every year, thousands of children are rushed to Accident and Emergency departments due to accidental poisoning incidents.
  • Prompt action is vital, as delays in treatment can lead to serious consequences, including long-term health issues or even fatalities.

Key definitions

  • Poisoning - The ingestion, inhalation, or absorption of substances harmful to the body's normal functioning.
  • Toxin - Any substance that can cause harm or impair bodily functions when introduced to the body.
  • Antidote - A substance that counteracts the effects of poisoning or toxicity.

Legislation, regulations, and best practice

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) outlines employers' responsibilities to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of employees and others, including children in their care.
  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) mandates the safe storage, handling, and disposal of hazardous substances to prevent accidental exposure and poisoning incidents.
  • Best practice guidelines from organisations such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) provide recommendations for childproofing homes and educating caregivers about potential hazards and preventive measures.

First aid treatment

  • Assessment - Quickly assess the situation and determine the type of poisoning, the substance involved, and the child's condition.
  • Remove the source - Remove any remaining poison from the child's vicinity to prevent further exposure.
  • Seek medical help - Contact emergency services or take the child to the nearest ER for immediate medical attention.
  • Administer first aid - Follow guidance from medical professionals, such as administering activated charcoal or inducing vomiting only under expert supervision.
  • Monitor and comfort - Stay with the child, monitor their vital signs, and provide comfort and reassurance until medical help arrives.


  • Educate caregivers, including parents, guardians, and childcare providers, about common household poisons and preventive measures.
  • Keep hazardous substances securely stored out of reach of children, preferably in locked cabinets or high shelves.
  • Consider taking a paediatric first aid course to gain the knowledge and confidence to handle emergencies effectively.


Swift action can make a life-saving difference in cases of poisoning in children and babies. By being prepared, informed, and proactive, we can minimise the risks and ensure the safety and well-being of the little ones in our care. Remember, prevention is key, but knowing how to respond in emergencies is equally crucial. Let's work together to create safer environments for our children.

Take proactive steps to safeguard your home and learn essential first aid skills. Click here to explore our range of paediatric first aid courses today and equip yourself with the knowledge and confidence to handle emergencies effectively.

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 essentials: How to handle poisoning in children and babies - ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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