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A Guide to Baby First Aid

One of the best ways that new parents, grandparents, and babysitters can prepare for the unexpected is to take classes in first aid and infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Knowing what to do in the event of an emergency will help you remain calm, think quickly, and take action with confidence so that you can help your child. Here's how to handle some of the most common injuries and emergencies that affect children under a year of age.

Head and eye injuries
Head bumps and eye irritations should be treated with care -- babies' developing brains and eyes are very fragile. Even if it doesn't seem serious, it's a good idea to check with the doctor.
Head injuries
This type of injury is common in young children because a child's head is relatively large in proportion to the rest of her body. A child who falls from a significant height (two or more feet) or is in a motor vehicle accident could have a head, neck, or back injury. Call 911 if your baby loses consciousness, has a seizure, oozes blood or fluid from the ears or nose, has bruising around the eyes or behind the ears, or acts lethargic. Do not move her, as this could cause further injury. Call a doctor even for apparently mild head injuries; your child might have suffered a concussion.
Eye injuries
All eye injuries (common ones include bruising around the eye, scratches on the cornea, and cigarette burns) should be evaluated by a doctor. If an irritating substance is splashed into the eye, flush it with water for at least 15 minutes and seek medical care. Don't rub the eye, apply medication, or try to remove an embedded object yourself.

Marianne Neifert, M.D., is the author of Dr. Mom's Guide to Breastfeeding.