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Know the basics

Being prepared and knowing the signs

Parents are usually good at noticing when something is wrong with their child from quite early on. It is normal to worry that you won't recognise the signs that your child is unwell. Trust your instincts, you know your child best.

Learn how to spot the signs of serious illness and how to cope if an accident happens. If you know the basics and you are well prepared, you will find it easier to cope - and less scary. Keep a small supply of useful medicines somewhere up high where a child cannot reach them. There is a useful list iunder the chemist's tips for things to have at home just in case. Make sure you’ve got the right strength of medicine for theage of your child, always follow instructions carefully and check use by dates.

If your child seems to have a serious illness it’s important to get medical attention as soon as possible.

Chemist’s tips

Keep a small supply of useful medicines. Include things like:

Types of thermometer

Digital thermometers are quick to use, accurate and can be used under the arm (always use the thermometer under the arm with children under five years old). Hold your child’s arm against their body and leave the thermometer in place for the time stated in the instructions.

Ear thermometers are put in the child’s ear. They take the temperature in a few seconds and do not disturb the child, but they're expensive. Ear thermometers may give low readings when not correctly placed in the ear. Read the instructions carefully.

Strip-type thermometers, which you hold on your child’s forehead, are not always an accurate way of taking their temperature. They show the temperature of the skin, not the body.

Mercury-in-glass thermometers haven’t been used in hospitals for years and are no longer available to buy. Do not use mercury thermometers. If your child is exposed to mercury, get medical advice immediately.

A normal temperature is between 36-36.8°C (96.8-98.24°F).

Source: NHS Choices.


I have a new baby at home and I am worried I won’t know what to do or what to look out for.


Be prepared so that if they do become unwell you will know what to do and whom to contact.


Keep a small supply of useful medicines. Keep emergency numbers in a place you can find them.

The above information cannot replace specialist treatment. If you are still worried, contact NHS Direct or your doctor.