First aid

How to deal with a baby choking

How to deal with a baby choking Use with infants under the age of one year

Babies and young children are always at risk of choking. Young children often put toys or other small objects in their mouths, and babies are only just beginning to learn to chew and swallow and food may get lodged in their narrow airways.

What you need to do (for children under the age of one)

If the baby is choking and unable to cry, cough or breathe, you have to act quickly:

  • Lay the baby face down along your forearm, with their head low
  • Give up to five back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand
  • Check the baby's mouth after each back blow and remove any obstruction
  • DO NOT poke blindly around the baby's mouth. This may push the object further down the airway.

If this does not work and the obstruction is still present:

  • Turn the baby onto it's back and give up to 5 chest thrusts
  • Place two fingers in the middle of the chest and push inwards and upwards, towards the head
  • Check the baby's mouth after each one

If the obstruction does not clear after three cycles of back blows and chest thrusts, call 999 (or 112) for an ambulance.

Continue with the cycles of back blows and chest thrusts until help arrives. Resuscitate if necessary.

If chest thrusts have been used on a child to prevent choking, you should always take them to be checked out by a doctor.

This article was published on Thu 27 May 2010

Image © Galina Barskaya

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