What to do if a baby is choking: first aid for choking infants
If infants are choking, they may not be able to make any noise to let you know. Learning this basic first aid could help save a child’s life.
If the infant is unconscious, do CPR. If they are conscious, follow these steps.
Before helping the choking child
- Have someone call for emergency
- If you can see an object in the mouth, try to remove it. Be very careful not to push the object further in!
- If the child is coughing, encourage the child to continue to bring up what they’re choking on.
- If the child’s coughing is not effective (it’s silent or they can’t breathe), shout for help immediately and check whether the baby is still conscious.
- If the baby is conscious, but the coughing isn’t effective, use back blows.
Back blows for choking infant:
- Sit down and lay the baby’s face down along your thighs, supporting the head with your hand.
- Give up to 5 sharp back blows with the heel of 1 hand in the middle of the back between the shoulder blades.
- After 5 back blows, if the baby is still coughing and conscious, give chest thrusts.
Chest thrusts for choking infant:
- Lay the baby face-up along the length of your thighs.
- Place two or three fingers in the center of the infant’s chest just below the nipple line.
- Give 5 sharp chest thrusts (pushes), compressing the chest by about 4 cm
- After 5 chest thrusts, if the baby is still coughing and conscious, give back blows.
Continue care: Continue sets of 5 back blows and 5 chest thrusts until the object is forced out, the baby can cough and breathe or until the baby becomes unconscious.
Unconscious choking infant
- If unconscious, lay the child on a firm, flat surface
- Open the child’s mouth. If the object’s clearly visible and you can grasp it easily, remove it.
- Start CPR
- Continue CPR until the baby begins to recover or emergency help arrives
Dr. Piyawut Kreetapirom, MD. (6 November 2019)