Choking Emergency in Infants

The instructions given in this article should be used only as reinforcement. You must take a course in baby CPR to ensure your child’s safety. Periodically reread these steps or the ones provided during a CPR class. You can practise these steps on a doll but never on your baby or any one else.

A baby who is choking and who can breathe, cry and cough forcefully should not be interfered with.  If the child continues to cough for 2-3 minutes call the doctor. When the choking victim is struggling to breathe, can’t cough effectively, is making high pitch crowing sound and/or is turning blue you should try the following rescue procedures.

  • If someone else is present ask them to phone for emergency medical assistance. If you are alone, either take the baby close to the phone or bring the phone to where the baby is and call emergency. It is best to try rescue procedures for one minute and then call emergency.
  • Administer back blows. Position baby facedown over your forearm; head lower than the rest of the body. Give five consecutive forceful blows between baby’s shoulder blades with the heel of your free hand.
  • If there is no indication that the blockage has dislodged you need to give chest thrusts. Make the baby face upwards.  Place your free hand on babies back, and, supporting the head, neck and chest with your other hand turn the child over. Again keep the head lower than the body. Imagine a line from nipple to nipple. Place two or three fingers just under the centre of this line. Deliver five chest thrusts.
  • If the baby is conscious keep repeating the back blows and chest thrusts until the airway is cleared.

If the baby becomes unconscious do the following:

  • Administer a foreign body check. Check for visible obstruction deeper in the mouth by pressing the tongue. If you see a foreign object, try to sweep it out with your finger. Be sure not to push the object further away.
  • Check the baby’s airway. Open the airway with a head tilt/chin lift manoeuvre and administer two slow breaths with your mouth sealed over baby’s nose. If the chest rises and falls with each breath the airway is clear.
  • Keep repeating these steps 2-6 times, until the airway is cleared and the baby is conscious or until emergency help has arrived.
  • Don’t give up as the longer the baby goes without oxygen, the more the muscles will be relaxed and the more likely the obstruction can be dislodged.