What To Do When A Child Is Choking

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Babies put a lot of things into their mouths

That’s why they are babies, some believe it’s a way they learn and interact with their environment, it is also known as oral fixation. This makes it very likely for them to get an object that just is the right size to block their airway (just in front of the esophagus)


What do I do when this happens?

The most familiar answer would be to take the child to a hospital. Or call the emergency numbers. What if the hospital is minutes or even an hour away? We live in a society where access to these things is gravely limited.

If the blockage is big enough, it could completely block airflow and kill the baby before the medics get to you.

Here are some steps to take:


Step one: Call for help!

This is very important. Do not skip this no matter how experienced you might be.

Give back blows

image from healthline.com


For a baby under one year: Lay the baby face down across your lap and use the heel of your hands to give a back blow, give 5 blows in the middle, these blows create a vibration that should dislodge the object

What if that doesn’t work?

If that doesn’t work, Lay the baby face-up

Look for the bone in the middle of the chest called the breastbone. Place two fingers on it and push in sharply five times! Push as though you’re pushing upwards and inwards

All the while calling for help.


My baby is older, what do I do?

If the child is older, a toddler perhaps, kneel behind the child and wrap your hands around the child’s abdomen between the navel and ribs and pull sharply towards you upwards and inwards, (remember you are behind the child)

Kneel behind the toddler


This is what you NEVER do

  • Never leave the child alone for any reason
  • Do not put your fingers into the mouth of a choking baby if you have not seen the object
  • Do not give the child liquid to drink while the child is visibly choking


Go to the hospital as soon as possible while attempting, time is of the essence.

Remember to keep all small objects and toys that pose a choking hazard out of the reach of children




7 Responses

  1. Thanks for this thoroughly detailed approach to dislodging a piece of food in a choking baby. It’s sound and scientifically proven to work.

    Aprokodoctor you’re on the ball with this. I work for the NHS and this is what we’re taught.

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