Why do childcare staff need to complete a 12-hour Paediatric First Aid course?

Why do Childcare and Early Years staff need to complete a 12-hour Paediatric First Aid course?

Not everyone realizes that first aid for infants and young children is quite different to that of adults. This 12 hour Paediatric First Aid course is seen as the ‘standard’ first aid course for childcare across the rest of the UK but not in Scotland. The training includes time to cover infant and child specific issues around CPR, asthma, febrile convulsions, recognition of meningitis and more. None of these are included on a standard Emergency First Aid at Work course.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) First Aid at Work and Emergency First Aid at Work courses are designed for people in the workplace, to help them deal with accidents predominantly with their colleagues. This is why they don’t cover infant and child specific issues.

Five reasons why child and infant first aid techniques are different to adult techniques?

Infants and younger children have sight differences in their physiology and development, which means that some emergency first aid treatment for them is different to adults.

1          Airways – Adult airways are about 4 cm wide, so quite small. Children around 8 years old have airways about 2 cm wide and infant’s airways are about 4mm wide. It is actually quite easy to close of obstruct a child or infants airways so the training course focuses lots on different versions of recovery positions to manage for these smaller airways.

2          Faster breathing and pulse rates – Compared to adults, infants and children have much faster breathing and pulse rates. Much of this is because smaller bodies have poorly developed muscular systems and therefore have small blood (oxygen) stores. Additionally young people have very elastic blood vessels that can compensate for signs of ‘shock’; this is a major factor when dealing with child trauma incidents.

3          Hollow bones – The way infant and child bones respond to an impact is different adults. Adult bones are ‘solid’ and therefore impact tends to lead to fractures. Children have more air spaces in their bones so the energy of an impact or fall can be transmitted to underlying organs.

4          Poor thermoregulation – Both physically and emotionally children are not good at balancing their own body temperatures. They cool down quickly and don’t realise they need to wrap up and conversely overheat easier and want to keep running around in the sun!

5          Infants tiny compact organs can mean that any heavy blow can affect a number of different organs. This means multiple organ damage is commoner in children than adults.

This week we are asking the Scottish government to change the law to make it compulsory for all Early Years and Childcare (ELC) Providers to have a member of staff on duty when children are present, or on visits, with a 12-hour Paediatric First Aid qualification.

Sign our 38 degrees petition asking Maree Todd, Scottish Minister for Childcare and Early Years to change the law.



What Can You Do?

We need your support to make this campaign a success and bring Scotland at least into line with the rest of the UK.  Please keep your eyes on our Facebook Page and Twitter Feed over the next few days, and share the campaign content around your friends, family and colleagues.

You can also




You can view our First Aid videos on the following links

How to perform CPR on a Child


How to perform CPR on an Infant


How to treat a choking child or infant? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOI4Q1_YDeM&list=UU4CNPwbTQQdg6aahVWSSf-w&index=19


Paediatric First Aid manual

Did you know you could purchase a digital Paediatric First Aid manual so you can see what to do in a first aid incident involving a child or infant on your phone or tablet?