First Aid Advice for Febrile Seizures

According to research* from the British Red Cross, two thirds of parents (66%) said they had never been taught to recognise or treat the most common type of seizures in young children.

When I was two years old, I had a febrile seizure.   I’d been unwell for a day or so, was running a high temperature and apparently feeling pretty sorry for myself.   My mum left me on the sofa, all snuggled and cosy while she went to put my baby brother down for a sleep, she was gone for a minute or two and when she came back I was fitting.  Luckily for me, she reacted quickly, picked me up (my head over her shoulder apparently saved me from swallowing my own tongue!) and called an ambulance.  I was taken to hospital, gradually recovered and it never thankfully happened again.  My parents were told that the seizure was a result of my high temperature.  We were lucky with our happy ending, and that my mum’s instincts were correct, but should the same happen to you, would you know how to react?

One in twenty children will have a febrile seizure, yet many parents don’t know what they are and 59% said they would not be confident about what to do if one happened.

Joe Mulligan, British Red Cross head of first aid, said:

“Febrile seizures are one of the most common types of fit in babies and young children. The symptoms look frightening but are easily treatable. We want to make sure parents feel confident, informed and can take action right away.”

Mum Joanne Riley witnessed a febrile seizure in her two-year-old son Freddie:

“It was a really traumatic experience – seeing my baby stiff and shaking and slowly watching his lips turn blue was one of the scariest moments of my life. I remember thinking ‘this is it, my little baby is dying’.”

“I called 999 and ran next door to get my neighbour who is a nurse. Luckily the paramedics arrived very quickly and took him to hospital. I was surprised to hear how common the seizures are amongst babies and young children. I’ve since refreshed my first aid skills on a baby and child course and I’d advise all parents to do the same.”

Febrile seizures are a form of convulsions caused by fever. The British Red Cross are releasing a new video on the topic as part of their First Aid Rapped up campaign. The 50-second video, created by Chris Sweeney, director of music videos for Sam Smith, Paloma Faith and Lily Allen features rapping toddlers and babies to get across the first aid advice. The Red Cross has also developed a free baby and child first aid app.

The campaign is backed by a host of celebrities including Jools Oliver, Coronation Street’s Catherine Tyldesley, Tamzin Outhwaite and Katherine Kelly.

To watch the video, download the free Red Cross baby and child first aid app and find out more, go to

Febrile seizures first aid advice

  1. The baby or child may arch their back, stiffen their body and have clenched fists. They look red-faced, are hot to touch and sweating.
  2. Their eyes may roll upwards and they may hold their breath.
  3. Protect the baby or child from injury. Do not restrain them.
  4. Remove objects that may injure the baby or child while they are having the seizure. Use a blanket or clothing to protect their head from injury.
  5. Remove outer clothing to help cool them.Febrile seizures are caused by a raised temperature so it is important to cool the baby or child. If the room they are in is hot, ensure there is a flow of fresh air (e.g. open a window).
  6. When the seizure is over, help the baby or child to rest on their side with their head tilted back. If the symptoms continue or it is their first seizure, seek medical advice.
  7. Helping them to lie on their side with their head back will help them to keep breathing.

*Research Sept 2015


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