10 life-saving things all parents need to know

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Nothing can truly prepare you for the monumental task that is caring for a baby. From sleep deprivation to feeding around the clock – to ALL those nappy changes… From the moment we hold that tiny baby in our arms, its game faces on and survival mode activated.

But whilst a lot about this parenting gig has to be learned on the job, there are some seriously important things that all new parents should do before the baby arrives. Because even though none of us wants to think about worst-case scenarios, the reality is, that accidents happen, and things don’t always go according to plan.

Paediatric nurse and founder of CPR Kids Sarah Hunstead is committed to empowering adults to be able to respond appropriately in an emergency. This way they know that they have done everything they could in cases of emergency. In partnership with H&M, here are 10 essential skills that Sarah says every parent needs to know.

10 life-saving things all parents need to know

1. Learn CPR 

If your child chokes, is unable to cough and has stopped breathing, you will have to commence CPR. CPR is one of the most valuable and important skills a new parent can learn. Along with a birth class, we recommend putting a CPR course on your pregnancy to-do list. That way, when the baby comes – and trust us, attending a CPR course will be the LAST thing on your mind when you have a baby – you’ll enter parenthood armed with knowing exactly what to do in time of a life-threatening emergency. 

2. Refresh your CPR skills annually

The first year of becoming a new parent is a fog for most of us (hello #babybrain), so even if you did a CPR course before you had your baby, or when your baby was a newborn, it’s a good idea to refresh your skills every year. You can sign up to CPR Kids courses online.

3. Know the signs to look for when your child is sick or injured that may indicate serious illness

The signs to look for when your child is sick or injured include: 

  • Unconscious, or difficult to rouse
  • Breathing problems
  • Floppy or drowsy
  • Change in skin colour (different to their normal colour), e.g., blue, pale, mottled
  • Reduced feeding
  • Reduced wet nappies
  • Non-blanching rash
  • Fever in babies under 3 months of age

4. Know where to seek help

Before an emergency ever happens, we recommend you familiarise yourself with the medical resources near you and available to you. You might want to think about:

  • Closest Children’s Hospital
  • Closest 24-hour pharmacy
  • Telehealth support
  • Local Maternal Child Healthcare Nurse 
  • Other family members and friends nearby who you can call on if need be – if you have more than one baby/child, you may need to call on someone to look after your other child while taking your baby/child to the hospital in an emergency

5. Find a good GP 

You might already have a trusted family GP who will continue to provide general practitioner care to you and your baby. However, if you haven’t yet established a relationship with a GP when you’re pregnant, we recommend you taking the time to find the right one for you. 

Continuity of care is essential when you have a baby. And, hopefully, once you find a family GP whom you feel comfortable with, whose judgement and bedside manner you trust and who practices in a location near enough to you, you and your baby will continue turning to them for many years. 

6. Call an ambulance in a medical emergency

Don’t be tempted to put your baby in the car and drive them to hospital yourself in a medical emergency. If your baby is choking, is unconscious or bleeding excessively, you should call an ambulance. If you don’t have private health insurance, it’s worth getting ambulance insurance for this reason. 

7. Recognise the warning signs 

Babies can’t tell us when they’re sick, but they do show certain signs and symptoms that can alert us to a serious health problem.  

If your baby is feeding less than normal or having fewer wet nappies than usual, you should call your doctor. 

If they’re having any difficulty breathing, if they are floppy or drowsy, if they are difficult to rouse or if their colour is different to what it normally is (mottled or blue or grey), then you need to call an ambulance urgently.

Also, if your baby is under the age of three months, and they have a temperature of  38 degrees Celsius or more, your child needs medical attention. 

Sarah stresses that the most important thing is to always trust your gut; you know your child better than anyone. And if in doubt, seek medical help.

8. Trust your instincts

If you feel something is wrong with your baby or child, seek medical help! 

When you call to make your appointment at your GP clinic or if you call the hospital, because the matter is concerning your baby or child, you will likely speak to a nurse who will ask a series of health questions. This will help the nurse determine whether your baby/child’s situation is an emergency. 

Always seek medical help if you feel something is wrong. 

9. Prevention

Of course, prevention is better than cure. Although some accidents are unavoidable, we can take some measures in our homes to prevent certain situations from occuring. These include:

  • Although SIDS isn’t always avoidable – the recommendation is that your baby doesn’t sleep in your bed, that they are always placed in their bassinet or cot on their back with nothing else in their cot or bassinet. 
  • Newborns are incredibly vulnerable to viruses and infections. So, it’s recommended to tell anyone who may be sick and wants to meet your precious newborn to wait until all of their symptoms have passed and have had all relevant vaccinations. 
  • Never leave your baby or small child unattended in water. 
  • Never leave your baby or small child unattended in water. 
  • Never leave your baby unattended on the change table. 
  • Cut up your child’s food to avoid choking – circular food/fruit/vegetables, like grapes or tomatoes, are choking hazards and should be cut in half or into quarters. 
  • With links to cancer, immune problems and general health damage, pesticide use should be limited and kept completely away from areas where the baby will be. 

10. Safe sleep

An unsafe sleeping arrangement can increase the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI), including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents. SIDS remains the most common category of deaths between 1 month and 1 year of age. 

There are some important things to practice to ensure a safe sleep environment: 

  • Baby should be put down to sleep on their back, with feet close to the bottom end of the cot or bassinet.
  • Head and face should remain uncovered.
  • The baby should be in a smoke-free environment before and after birth.
  • A safe bassinet and cot are vital (they must meet Australian Standard AS2172 which will be present on labelling).
  • No soft or bulky bedding, such as pillows, bumpers, blankets and toys.
  • If you are wrapping baby, ensure that you are always doing so safely.
  • Breastfeed baby
  • A safe bassinet in the parent’s room is recommended for the first 6-12 months.
  • Never leave your baby sleeping unsupervised in a pram, stroller or bouncer.
  • It’s recommended that cots and bassinets are purchased as new for use, and not second hand.

Knowledge is power in an emergency and your ability to know how to respond to the situation can directly impact the health outcome of your baby or child. If you begin to familiarise yourself with child health, safety and care protocols while you’re pregnant – including signing up for a CPR course – you will be better equipped to handle an emergency if it ever presents itself to you. 

This is a paid partnership between Kiindred x H&M.

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