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Babysitting: Dealing With Seizures

Although seizures can be frightening, many last only a few minutes, stop on their own, and are almost never life threatening.

Seizures can take many forms, from a child staring for a period of time, to uncontrolled movements of the arms and legs. Seizures with fever are more common in young children and are usually mild and last a short time.

Possible signs and symptoms of a seizure:

  • unusual sensation or twitching
  • uncontrollable muscle spasm
  • loss of consciousness
  • uncontrollable urination or bowel movement

What to Do

If a child has a seizure:

  • Gently place the child on the floor or ground, and remove any nearby objects.
  • Do not hold the child to stop the shaking — this will not stop the seizure and may make the child more uncomfortable.
  • Do not put anything in the child's mouth. (The child will not swallow his or her tongue, and forcing teeth apart could cause injuries.)
  • Roll the child on his or her side. If the child vomits, keep him or her on the side. Gently clear out the front of the child's mouth with your finger, if you can.
  • Do not give the child anything to drink.
  • Let the child sleep after the seizure.
  • Call the child's doctor and parents.

Call 911 if the child:

  • has a seizure lasting more than 5 minutes or is having repeated seizures
  • has difficulty breathing
  • has a bluish color on the lips, tongue, or face
  • remains unconscious for more than a few minutes after the seizure
  • seems to be ill
  • has any symptoms that concern you

If a child takes anti-seizure medication, having him or her take it on time can help prevent seizures.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: October 2010

Kids Health

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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