Choking infant; first aid care and management

How do you help a choking infant?


It’s not easy to be in the position of having to save a baby’s life, but it could happen. Babies most at time choke on food and toys, get caught in drawstrings and curtain cords. This step-by-step guide explains the basics of first aid care for a choking infant.

However, please don’t rely on this article as your sole source of information. Set aside a few hours to take an infant and child CPR course to learn and practice the proper techniques. Because, these techniques differ depending on the age of the child and doing them improperly can be harmful.



A choking infant may be holding to their chest or neck. He or she won’t be able to cry, breathe or cough. Sometimes, they turn blue in the face, grabbing at the throat and looking panicked. Because choking cuts off oxygen to the brain, give first aid as quickly as possible.

Assess the situation quickly.

If suddenly a baby is unable to cry or cough, it might probably be something blocking her airway, and you’ll need to help her get it out. She may make odd noises or no sound at all while opening her mouth.

If she’s coughing it means her airway is only blocked partially. Let her continue to cough. Coughing is the most effective way to dislodge a blockage. If unable to cough up the object, begin back blows and chest thrusts.



Give back blows and chest thrusts.

Assume a seated position and hold the infant face-down on your forearm, which is resting on your thigh. Lay baby downwards on your forearm. Using the heel of your hand, give her a firm back blow between the shoulder blades. Give up to five back blows, and check between each blow to see if the blockage has cleared. Maintain support of his head and neck by firmly holding his jaw between your thumb and forefinger.

If the blockage hasn’t cleared, lay baby on her back, place two fingers in the centre of her chest, and give her up to five chest thrusts – like CPR compression’s but slower and sharper. Check to see if the blockage has cleared between each thrust.

Call for help

If baby is still choking, check that someone has call the ambulance or emergency services. Continue to alternate five back blows and five chest thrusts until emergency help arrives. If at any point baby becomes unconscious, start resuscitation.

For a child older than age 1 and conscious, give abdominal thrusts only. Do not use too much force to avoid damaging ribs or internal organs.

What can I do to prevent infant choking?

Properly time the introduction of solid foods. Introducing your baby to solid foods before he or she has can control to swallow them can lead to infant choking. Wait until your baby is at least 6 months old to introduce pureed solid foods.

Keep small objects out of reach. Small household objects commonly cause choking. Examples such as coins, safety pins, marbles and beads.

Supervise mealtime. As your child gets older, don’t allow him or her to play, walk or run while eating. Insist that your children sit down to eat or drink.  Remind your child to chew and swallow his or her food before talking.



About felclinic 593 Articles
Felix Ntifo is a Registered General Nurse who has so much passion to improve health care delivery. He founded FelClinic with the hope of making health information accessible to everyone who may not come in contact with him personally. "At felclinic.com we are very passionate about health and well-being of everyone. Our team is made up of professional doctors, nurses, midwives and lab technicians."

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