Assessing for Pain for Infant First Aid and CPR

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Considering that infants cannot verbally express themselves even when they are in pain, it can be very difficult for parents and rescuers to determine if they need to apply first aid interventions for pain or if they need to administer CPR. However with the use of non-verbal cues which can be learned through infant first aid and CPR classes, rescuers, parents and guardians can successfully determine if an infant is feeling any type of pain or discomfort. Here are some of the non-verbal cues for pain that adults need to watch out for when dealing with infants.


Infant CPR Courses in Thunder Bay
Infant CPR Courses in Thunder Bay

Since children cannot pronounce actual words, they use the produce the only sound that they can in order to communicate which usually comes in the form of crying. This is why pediatricians always remind parents that crying can mean a lot of things for an infant. However, if the crying is inconsolable through ordinary means such as feeding the baby, hugging or changing the diaper, then parents should highly consider that they child must be experiencing mild pain or great discomfort. During emergency situations, rescuers should palpate the child in order to determine the area where the discomfort or pain is coming from.

Facial expressions

An expressionless child is nothing to be worried about according to the Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability scale. However if the child or infant is expressionless, parents and rescuers should assess the temperature of the child’s face in order to determine facial numbness. An occasional grimace, frown  or disinterestedness is indicative of mild pain. Constant frown or clenched jaws on the other hand, is indicative of severe pain.

Extremities and behavior

Legs that seem relaxed are indicative of a baby that is free from pain. If the legs seem rigid or uneasy on the other hand, it can be indicative of mild pain. Legs that are drawn up or if the baby is kicking and screaming, then the infant can be in severe pain. As for the behavior, shifting back and squirming is indicative of mild pain whereas jerking movements and rigidity are indicative of severe pain.

Vital signs

Just like adults, the vital signs of babies spike up whenever they feel uneasy or if they are pain. This is why it is a good idea for rescuers or for individuals who are performing infant first aid and CPR to assess for the vital signs of the baby. The signs that they should take note of are the respiratory rate, heart rate and pulse rate.

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