My child is choking! What do I do?!

Kids are always on an adventure of self-discovery, experimenting with everything in their path. As part of this learning process, children between the ages of one and five often put objects in their mouths. This is a normal part of exploring their surroundings.

But what happens when the adventure turns into a nightmare, and your child starts choking?

Important facts 

According to Injury Facts 2017, choking is the fourth leading cause of accidental death. The number of children who choke on food is particularly high because of the size, shape and consistency of certain foods which make them likely choking hazards. The best way to prevent accidents is to make sure that small objects stay out of your child’s way.

If you suspect your child is choking, act immediately:

  • If he suddenly starts coughing, hasn’t been sick and has a habit of putting small objects in his mouth, there is a good chance he’s choking. Support him in a position where he’s face down. Hold his head in one hand, with his upper body on your forearm against your thigh.
  • Give him about five back slaps between the shoulder blades with the heel of your other hand.
  • If the object doesn’t come out, roll his face up and support the back of his head with your hand.
  • Put two fingers on the breastbone just below the nipple line.
  • Give five chest thrusts, about one per second.
  • Continue cycles of five back slaps and five chest thrusts until the object comes out or when your child becomes responsive.
  • If your child is still not breathing or only gasping, start CPR.
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Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

CPR is the lifesaving method to recover someone who shows no signs of life, meaning they’re unconscious and not breathing.

Before you perform CPR on your child:

  1. For infants, flick the bottom of the foot to get a response.
  2. If your child doesn’t respond, call an ambulance immediately.
  3. Open the airway by laying your child on his back. Tilt his head back slightly and lift his chin.
  4. Check for breathing. Listen carefully for a breathing sound of no more than 10 seconds. Occasional gasps aren’t breathing.
  5. Deliver two rescue breaths if your child isn’t breathing. With the head tilted back slightly and the chin lifted, pinch the nose shut, make a complete seal by placing your mouth over the child’s mouth and breathe into his mouth twice. For infants, use your mouth to make a complete seal over the infant’s mouth and nose, and then blow in for one second to make the chest clearly rise. Now, deliver two rescue breaths
  6. Keep going. Continue the CPR steps until you see obvious signs of life, like breathing or until paramedics are available to take over.

References