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It can be scary to see a child having a seizure (also called a fit). It is very helpful to know what to do, how to help and when to call an ambulance. Adults looking after a child who has a seizure disorder (e.g. epilepsy) also need to know what to do to make sure the child is safe.
If you are present when someone is having a seizure, you should follow the simple first aid instructions below.
Major seizures involve convulsions, which are stiffening and/or jerking movements of the limbs. These seizures are often called convulsive seizures, tonic-clonic seizures, or a fit.
Some children may have minor seizures where they 'go blank' and stare for a few seconds or minutes. Sometimes they stay fully conscious during a seizure and can describe what happened or how they felt. Sometimes they may simply seem confused or display unusual behaviour. These seizures may
also be called absence seizures or local seizures.
Leave the child seated if they are secure and safely strapped in.
If they are having convulsions, gently hold their head. When the jerking stops, if they are unconscious, take them out of the seat, lay them down and roll them onto their side.
It is not necessary to call an ambulance every time a seizure occurs in a child who has epilepsy. Most people who have epilepsy will recover from their seizure without any problems after a few minutes.
You should call an ambulance if:
You should always see a doctor after your child's first seizure, or following a seizure that lasts more than five minutes, even if they make a full recovery.
After the first seizure, the biggest risk of having another seizure is within the next three months. Your child's doctor will give you advice on any activities your child should not do and for how long.
Here are some recommendations to help keep your child safe if there is a chance they may have another seizure.
If my child has had a seizure does this mean he has
Not necessarily. Epilepsy and seizures are not exactly the
same thing. Epilepsy is a condition affecting the brain that means the person
has a lower threshold for having a seizure, and they tend to have repeated
episodes. Children can have seizures for other reasons, such as febrile
convulsions or head injuries. Your doctor will investigate the cause of your
What else can I do if my child has epilepsy?
It is wise to purchase a medical alert bracelet
to notify others that your child has epilepsy. You should complete a first aid
course and ask your child's doctor about specific management during and after
seizures. It is important that all teachers and caregivers are familiar with
these procedures too.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Emergency department and Neurology Department. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Reviewed June 2018.
Kids Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.