My son is two and a half. He is adventurous. He loves to jump and run and climb on everything. There are daily bumps and bruises, but we recently had our first ER visit for him due to a head-injury. Head wounds often look worse than they are since the head bleeds a lot. I know this. I teach this. But still, when my son cut the side of his head on a wooden pole (in a check-out line at a store – that’s a story for another day!) I found myself a bit surprised with just how much blood there was. Luckily, I know what to do and the staff at the store was responsive and equipped with a first aid kit. Within minutes, I had a gauze pad on his wound, a bandage wrapped around his head to hold it in place, an ice pack on his head, and I was applying pressure to help stop the bleeding. We went to the ER to make sure he didn’t suffer a concussion and to determine treatment for the puncture wound in his scalp (we decided against staples and opted for him getting a haircut so they could glue the cut). As I write this, it’s been 48 hours since the incident and I’m happy to report that he’s doing just fine. Yes, he’s even back to jumping, running, and climbing on everything!
This isn’t my first scary experience. My daughter, now age seven, needed stitches in her forehead at the age of three, and then choked at age four. I tell you all of this because I know how important it is to take a CPR and First Aid class. I also know that it can be a scary class to take. No one wants to think about these emergency situations happening! But as parents, we need to think about them in order to be prepared.
Many of you have taken Infant CPR and might be thinking those skills are all you need. Although there are some similarities between Infant and Toddler CPR, there are also crucial differences between the two as well as many important things to consider about a toddler.
Still not convinced?
Here are eight reasons you should take Toddler CPR and Safety:
- There are differences between Infant CPR and Toddler CPR, including: hand placement; the technique for compressions; how deep to push; the technique to give a breath.
- Practice matters! We know from science that the retention of CPR skills is, at best, 6 months without review, and a change in skills complicates the issue. The American Heart Association recommends everyone should take a CPR class every two years; but if you only took Infant CPR, you haven’t yet learned what to do on a child older than one.
- Your toddler is mobile. This developmental fact changes a lot! Injuries are now more common. And since a toddler is still gaining a sense of balance and his head is still heavy, the majority of falls in a toddler impact the head and face. Would you know what to do?
- First Aid is used on a weekly, if not daily, basis for most toddlers! Think of everything your toddler gets into these days. They’re more independent, exploring their world, and testing limits. We’ll discuss how to make their environment safer. Prevention is key.
- Choking is more common. Young children, ages 1-5, are at a higher risk for choking since they are now eating new foods, and are also more likely to try to run while eating or not properly chew their food. The choke-saving skills are different for children than infants, so again that hands-on practice is important!
- A chance to share experiences. In almost every Toddler CPR and Safety class, there are a few people who have already been to the ER with their toddler or called their pediatrician with concerns over an injury. Learn from other parents!
- This class is for ALL caregivers. Anyone who cares for your toddler needs to have this knowledge. Nannies, grandparents, parents.
- You’ll have the skills to save a life. I saved my daughter’s life. As an American Heart Association instructor, as the Program Manager for CPR and Safety at Isis, and most importantly as a parent, I want you to have these skills, too.
Thank you to my fellow CPR instructors, Jonathan Epstein, Kathy Ulrich, and Holly Smulski for their contributions to this article.