First Aid

Choking

For an infant under age 1:

old think: If a baby appears to be choking on a piece of food or other item, you should pat him strongly on the back.

new think: If he can cough it up, first let him try to dislodge the item himself.

why: If you start by hitting him on the back, you may cause the item to lodge more firmly where it's stuck. However, if your child is having trouble breathing, call an ambulance. Then, flip him upside down against your forearm, his head toward your hand, and deliver five firm-but-gentle back blows between his shoulder blades, using the heel of your hand. Turn him over and deliver five thrusts to the center of his breastbone, using your middle and index fingers. Repeat this action until he coughs up the item and resumes breathing normally (or until help arrives).

For a child over age 1:

old think: If a child appears to be choking on a piece of food or other item, pat him strongly on the back.

new think: If he can speak or cough, let him try to dislodge the item himself.

why: He'll probably cough it up on his own, but if you hit him on the back, you may cause the item to lodge more firmly where it's stuck. If your child is having trouble breathing, however, call an ambulance. If your child's airway seems to be completely blocked, your best bet is to administer the Heimlich maneuver: Wrap one hand over your other fist and place both hands with the thumb side of the inside fist just above the belly button under the child´s diaphragm and give quick, upward thrusts. If the item is sealing the airway, it should pop out like a cork.

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