First Aid in Child Care

First aid kit close-up

As a child care provider, you know that unintentional injuries will happen from time to time. The best way to handle an unintentional injury is to be prepared before it happens. When you know how to respond in an emergency, and have the supplies you need, you are confident and can respond in a timely manner.

Creating First Aid Kits

Injuries do happen, despite the best prevention efforts. A well-stocked first aid kit is an absolute must in every child care program. Store items in a tightly sealed container within reach of adults, but out of the reach of children. Contents should be arranged in an orderly fashion and restocked after each use.

Give your kits regular checkups. Mark your calendar to check your first aid kits at least every three months. Check to be sure the flashlight batteries work, and replace supplies that have been used or have expired.

Suggested Supplies for a First Aid Kit

  • adhesive strip bandages
  • sterile gauze squares, 2 to 4 inches
  • rolled sterile gauze
  • adhesive tape
  • elastic wrap (Ace bandage)
  • thermometer
  • scissors, tweezers and a needle
  • triangular bandages (rectangle cloth for sling)
  • safety pins
  • disposable latex gloves (at least two pairs)
  • rubber bulb syringe to rinse out wounds
  • sterile eyewash, such as a saline solution
  • clean cloth
  • liquid hand soap
  • cotton-tipped swabs
  • antiseptic solution such as hydrogen peroxide or towelettes
  • petroleum jelly or other lubricant for body parts stuck in tight places
  • small plastic cups
  • plastic bags for ice or a commercial cold pack
  • plastic bags for disposing of contaminated materials
  • first aid handbook
  • pen, pencil and note pad
  • emergency phone numbers, including a long-distance emergency contact number for parents if they can’t be reached locally
  • signed emergency release forms for each child in the group

Where to Keep First Aid Kits

First aid kits need to be easily available in case of an emergency. Child care centers need to have a fully stocked first aid kit in each classroom. Store additional first aid kits in the kitchen and the main office. In a family child care home, keep a first aid kit in the main area where children play and a second kit in the kitchen. First aid kits are also essential during outdoor play. Store an extra first aid kit in a secure, waterproof area on the playground or bring the indoor first aid kit with you every time you take children outdoors. First aid kits should also be taken with you on any trips away from your program. A smaller version may be carried in a fanny pack or backpack.

First Aid Training and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

Training in first aid and CPR for children is critical for all child care providers. A child’s life may depend on your knowing what to do in an emergency. First aid and CPR classes can be found in the phone book or by contacting your nearest hospital or Red Cross center. Look for a class that focuses on infants and children, not just adults. Classes will need to be repeated on a regular basis so you keep current about what to do in an emergency.

 Some states require the director and at least half of the child care providers in a child care center to be certified. Most states also require providers in family child care homes to be certified in pediatric CPR, but each state’s rules and regulations are slightly different. Your state child care licensing agency has guidelines pertaining to this regulation. To find the specific rules for your state, go to the Better Kid Care America State Regulations page. 

For More Information

For more information related to first aid in child care, check out the eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care article entitled Preparing a Vehicle Safety Kit for Your Child Care Program.