What to Do When Your Child Is Choking

Step-by-step, here's what to do if your baby or child is choking.

Infants & Babies

If your child is under a year old:

  • Turn your child facedown over your forearm or on your lap if you can't manage the forearm position (see image at right).
  • Hold your child's jaw with one hand to support the head, which should be lower than the child's chest.
  • Using the heel of your free hand, deliver five quick slaps between the shoulder blades.
  • If your child still can't breathe, try chest thrusts: While holding your baby, turn him or her faceup, keeping their head lower than their chest (not pictured here). Place two fingers in the middle of his or her chest and give five thrusts. Repeat with back blows and chest thrusts until the object is visible and you can remove it.
Toddler Choking First Aid
Anders Wenngren (through Gerald & Cullen Rapp)

If your child is older than 1 year old:

  • Stand behind your child with your arms around their waist (see image at right).
  • Make a fist with one hand, placing the thumb side against the child's stomach above the navel, but below the rib cage.
  • Grasp the fist with your other hand and quickly thrust inward and upward. The Red Cross recommends alternating abdominal thrusts with back slaps to try to dislodge the object.
  • If your child becomes unresponsive, perform CPR.

Toddlers & Older Kids

  • If your child is still making sounds, tell him or her to cough, which may dislodge the object. (Don't try to remove a foreign object unless you see it, or you could push it farther into the airway.)
  • Ask "Are you choking?" If your child nods yes or can't respond, he or she needs help.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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