What Should You Do If Your Baby Is Choking?

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About the same time your baby’s thumb and pointer finger coordinate, picking up tiny pieces of lint, those arms and legs start working together to move the newest explorer across the universe.


Maybe he’s only able to move a few feet across the living room floor, but it has certainly offered an assortment of interesting tidbits. Your baby will probably examine each one by carefully picking it up and pocketing it, right in the mouth.

“Yesterday I had the biggest scare of my life. My baby was coughing. I didn’t think anything of it until he turned purple and starting breathing heavily. I looked in his mouth, but didn’t see anything. About a minute later, he started to throw up. A little piece of a goldfish cracker came out. What was I supposed to do?”

Choking Basics

Every time your baby puts something into his mouth, he’s at risk of choking. An object – like a button, penny, or piece of food – can block the flow of air from the mouth to lungs.

When this happens, no oxygen transfers into the blood. Damage to the brain and other vital organs can occur within minutes.

More than half the victims of childhood choking are infants. If your baby is choking, knowing what to do may allow you to save your child’s life.

When Does Your Baby Need Help?

If the obstruction is mild, your baby can cough, make sounds, and clear the object without help. You’ll know that bit of food or hunk of stuff is gone if your baby spits it out or starts to cough or cry.

If the obstruction is severe, you will need to help your baby clear it away with back blows and chest compression.

What Should You Do?

Did your baby cough out a bit of food or some object? Whew! If it does not, what should you do? Dr. Luke Herman, author of “Baby MedBasics,” gives three steps to take when your baby chokes:

1. Give 5 Back Blows

Place your baby face down on your thigh* for support. Support the face, but do not cover the mouth or nose. Keep baby’s head lower than the body.

Using the palm of your free hand, hit your baby forcefully between the shoulder blades five times. Stop after each slap to check if the blockage has cleared. If the object does not come out, continue.

Call 911 or your country’s emergency response number after providing care for two minutes.

2. Give 5 Chest Compressions

Turn your baby face up. Support the head in your hand, keeping it lower than the body. Place the index and middle finger of your free hand mid-chest, slightly below your baby’s nipples. Compress the chest 1/3 to 1/2 the depth of the chest. Give one compression per second to help expel the object.

Repeat until the object comes out or until medical help arrives.

3.Give 30 Chest Compressions If Baby Is Unresponsive

Open your baby’s mouth and look. If you can see the object, use your finger to remove it. If you can’t see it, don’t attempt to remove it because you could push it deeper into the baby’s airway.

If your baby remains unresponsive, begin CPR immediately.

Keep trying! If food causes the choking, it may start to dissolve and dislodge. No matter what object is choking your baby, becoming unresponsive allows your baby’s airway to relax slightly. The object may be easier to clear.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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