Choking happens when someone can’t breathe because food, a toy, or other object is blocking the airway (throat or windpipe). Choking is a common cause of injury and death in children, primarily because their small airways are easily obstructed. As babies explore their environments, they also commonly put objects into their mouth which can easily lead to infant choking.
Food is the most common cause of infant choking. However small objects, small parts from toys and certain types of behavior during eating such as eating while distracted can also cause baby choking.
If the baby is choking but still coughing effectively, let the baby cough. It’s the best way to clear an airway. Do not pat the baby’s back while she/he coughs. This will help the obstruction fall further down the airway.
- Bluish skin color
- Difficulty in breathing – ribs and chest pull inward
- Loss of consciousness if blockage is not cleared
- Inability to cry or make much sound
- Weak, ineffective coughing
- Soft or high-pitched sounds while inhaling
Dislodge the blockage:
Hold the baby so that she/he is lying face down along your forearm with her head lower than her/his body and her/his back and head supported.
- Use the heel of your hand to give up to five blows between the baby’s shoulder blades. Effective back blows cure most choking accidents.
- Check the baby’s mouth and remove any obvious obstructions. Do not use finger to sweep inside her mouth. This could push the obstruction further into her throat.
Give five chest thrusts:
If the baby is still unable to breathe, turn her onto her/his back and give up to five chest thrusts:
- Place two fingertips on the breastbone in the center of her chest about one finger’s width below her/his nipple line. Push inwards and upwards (towards the baby’s head) against the breastbone.
- Try to dislodge the object with each thrust. Don’t automatically do all five.
- Check the baby’s mouth after each thrust and remove the obstruction.
- Don’t stop the baby, if he/she is coughing
- Do not perform choking first aid if the infant is coughing forcefully, has a strong cry, or is breathing enough. However, be ready to act if the symptoms worsen.
- Do not try to grasp and pull out the object if the infant is conscious.
- Do not do back blows and chest thrusts if the infant stops breathing for other reasons, such As asthma, infection, swelling, or a blow to the head. Do give infant CPR in these cases.
If the obstruction does not clear after three cycles of back blows and chest thrusts, visit your nearest Apollo clinic / hospital. Continue giving your baby back blows and chest thrusts until help arrives.