first aid essentials
Health and safety

First aid essentials

What are your first aid essentials? Mum of four Gwen Loughman shares her expert advice on her must-have items for those minor medical emergencies.

The best piece of first aid advice I can offer you is make sure it doesn’t happen in the first place. But until Mother Nature sees fit to equip us all with eyes in the back of our heads, extendable arms and that often coveted extra pair of hands, accidents are an inevitable fact of life with children.

After that the next best thing is to be fully prepared for every eventuality and unless you are a doctor or a skilled plastic surgeon, there is only so much you can do in that department also.

The best thing us mere parenting mortals can do is have a decent first aid kit at our disposal. Whether you have boy children, girl children or a nice mix of both, when it comes to injuries, bumps and bruises, the first aid kit does not differentiate.

A plaster is a plaster but as generations of mothers have discovered, little ones believe there must be either princesses or Skylander Giants printed on them to work properly.

First aid essentials

The following are some fantastic items to have in your first aid kit.

  • Teething remedies are a must for small babies. There are countless options available starting with homeopathic remedies to over the counter bottles of pain relief.
  • Steri-strips also known as butterfly stitches have saved the day many a time in our house. At this stage I wouldn’t be without them. Adhesive strips that can be cut to size, they are excellent for closing small wounds. In our case, they have held a finger-tip in place until it was fully healed and also prevented the need for stitches in a small forehead.
  • Wasp-eze is a staple for summer months. It literally does exactly as it says on the tin; eases wasp (and bee!) stings. A little spray goes a long way. There is a similar product called Burn-eze which is just as effective for arguments with the oven!
  • Revisiting plasters. Novelty ones may have magical powers but Elastoplast is always handy for taping down loose ends and holding a bandage in place.
  • Witch hazel is a fantastic natural antiseptic and I am also a big fan of Tea Tree Oil. A few drops of either on a piece of cotton wool and taped to the wounded area is fantastic for treating the start of an infection.
  • A support bandage for those pesky sprains. The key to using a support bandage is to secure it tightly but not so that circulation is impaired.
  • Antifungal creams are a must in a house full of boys.
  • Sudocrem. I grew up with this product and it was one of the first baby items I bought back in the day. It is great for treating spots, nettle stings, small burns and of course the intended nappy rash.
  • People don’t like to talk or think about threadworms but they are a reality and I always make sure I have a couple of bottles of Vermox to hand as well.
  • A bottle of disinfectant is great for cleaning cuts and grazes.
  • Other miscellaneous must haves would include a tweezers and good nail scissors for cutting bandages. A Mr. Bump gel pack for the fridge. Arnica pilules can help to heal bruising. And last but definitely not least, some cotton wool.
  • Antihistamines. Whether treating the dreaded seasonal affliction that is hay fever, a skin reaction or a mild food allergy, a bottle of liquid antihistamine is another standard in the first aid kit. If your child has an allergic reaction that in any way causes breathing problems, call your doctor or head to A&E immediately.

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Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.


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Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….