It’s every parent’s worst nightmare – when your baby or toddler chokes on a seemingly innocent piece of food or object. The incident can be incredibly distressing for an infant. However, remember that if a child is crying, they are not choking. If they are unable to breathe, cough or cry and you believe they have an obstruction in their throat, try this strategy from the Red Cross. Always ring for medical help if needed.
- Lay them facedown on your forearm, with the head down low and supporting the body and head.
- Give up to five back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. Check between each blow to see if the blockage has cleared.
- If the obstruction is still present after five back blows, put the infant onto their back, position two fingers in the centre of their chest and give five chest thrusts at a rate of approximately one per second. Alternate between five back blows and five chest thrusts. If the obstruction still does not clear, call for an ambulance – but don’t leave the infant unattended.
- Continue the sequence until emergency help arrives.
Anyone who has been treated for choking in this way should see their doctor after the incident.
An excellent video demonstrating the technique can be seen on this NHS page
A paediatric first aid course is a good idea for all new and prospective parents. See the Red Cross for more.