Babies are always putting things in their mouth. While mouthing is a natural part of learning and exploring, it puts them at serious risk of choking. Hard or gummy round foods are also dangerous.
If your child appears to be choking but has a strong cry or a forceful cough (signs of little or no blockage), encourage him to cough, which may dislodge the object. Otherwise, begin first aid if your child can't breathe, cough, or cry; makes high-pitched noises while breathing in; is blue in the face; or loses consciousness. Follow these steps for babies 12 months and younger. (For older children the technique is different. Call 911 for instructions.)
Lay the baby facedown along your forearm, with her head lower than her chest. Support the head with your hand around the jaw and under the chest, using your thigh for support. Give up to five quick back blows between the infant's shoulder blades, using the heel of your free hand.
If the child is still choking, turn her faceup. Use your thigh or lap for support. Support her head, which should be lower than her chest. Place two fingers on the middle of her sternum (breastbone) just below the nipples and give five quick downward thrusts. If the baby is still choking, repeat back blows and chest thrusts. Have someone call 911.
If the baby loses consciousness, give infant CPR for a minute (call 911 for instructions). If you can see the object blocking the airway, try to remove it.
Any adult or teenager caring for children should take a basic course in first aid and CPR, says Ellen Kempf, MD, a medical director at Akron Children's Hospital in Ohio. To find a class, contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross or American Heart Association.