Choking is a situation in which an individual is unable to breathe due to a block in the throat or airway caused due to an object or food.
Children, especially between the ages one and three, tend to put random objects like buttons, coins, dirt, paper, etc in their mouth. This is a common worry among most parents.
Sometimes, parents do not realize that their child may be choking. The following are some visible signs that your baby is choking.1
- Bluish skin color
- Difficulty in breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Inability to cry or make sounds
- Weak, ineffective coughing
- Soft or high-pitched sounds while inhaling
Often times, parents panic and don’t exactly know what should be done when their child ends up choking. If you observe any of the above symptoms, then your child is choking either on food or on an object that was found lying around.
Here are some of the immediate steps you must take as a parent if your child is choking on food or any other foreign object. The steps may vary depending on the age of your child.
It is important to note that these steps should not be followed if your child is coughing hard or crying hard. Strong coughs and cries may help to push the object or food out of the airway.
First Aid To Help Choking Babies Under One Year
1. Back Blows
You can help babies under one year by giving them back blows. The following are the steps to take to help a choking baby under the age of a year.2
- Sit down and lay your baby face down along your thighs.
- You can also perform this by placing the baby on your forearm and supporting the baby’s head with the help of your hand.
- Support your baby’s head with the help of your hand.
- Give about five strong blows to the baby’s back with the heel of your hand.
- The blows should be directed toward the middle of the back between the shoulder blades.
2. Chest Thrusts
If the above step does not help, you may also follow the following steps to help the choking baby by performing chest thrusts.3
- Lay your baby face up along the length of the thighs.
- With two fingers, one finger width below an imaginary line connecting the nipples, give forceful thrusts to the baby’s chest.
- These thrusts can be to a depth of an inch.
- You may have to repeat these steps several times until the object blocking the baby’s airway is coughed out.
First Aid To Help Choking Babies Over One Year
1. Back Blows
Similar to back blows given to babies who are under a year old, back blows can be given to babies over a year with a few variations.
- Lay your small child face down on your lap.
- If this seems too hard, you can support your child in a forward-leaning position and give five sharp back blows from behind.
- You may have to repeat these steps several times so that the object blocking the child’s airway is coughed out.
2. Abdominal Thrusts
You can also provide abdominal thrusts to children who are over a year old.
- Stand or kneel behind your child. Place your arms under the child’s arms and around their upper abdomen.
- Clench your fist and place it between the navel and ribs.
- Grasp this hand with your other hand and pull sharply inward and upward.
- Repeat up to five times.
- Make sure you don’t apply pressure to the lower rib cage, as this may cause damage.
Apart from these, it is important to always call for help even if you have managed to get the object out of your baby’s airway. Call the emergency or take your baby to the hospital immediately.
It is essential to keep your home choke hazard free. Here are some tips you can follow to avoid your babies from choking at home and its surroundings.
Some Tips To Prevent Babies From Choking
When you have a baby at home, it is essential to babyproof the home and its surroundings. Here are some tips that may prevent your baby from choking.
- Be attentive: It is important to pay attention to your baby when they are eating.
- Make sure they are seated: Always feed your babies or allow your children to eat their food only when they are seated. Do not encourage them to eat food while playing, walking, running, etc.
- Slow down their pace: While eating, make sure that your baby is eating slowly. You can ensure this by allowing them to sip on water in between meals so that you know they are not packing their mouths with food.
- Puree, mash, or chop their food: When your child starts feeding themselves, make sure to either puree or mash their food to make them soft and easy to chew and eat. Vegetables like carrots and broccoli are hard and need to be chopped into small pieces and cooked well before giving them to your child.
- Avoid small objects: Do not allow your child to play with objects like coins, buttons, beads, etc. Always purchase age-appropriate toys for your children to play with.
- Keep powder bottles away: Do not let children play with powder bottles or containers. These can clog your child’s throat if they manage to shake it free.
It may help if parents are able to find the time to take some first aid courses. This way they will know exactly what must be done in times of need. The instructor will demonstrate the steps in the right manner and will also teach you not to panic.