Choking: 4 First-Aid FAQs

If you remember only one thing, know this: When someone is choking, it’s always better to act than to do nothing, even if you’re a total novice. 

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1. How will I know that my child is choking?

He won’t be able to cough, speak, cry, or breathe. If your child can cough, encourage him to keep coughing. In some cases, a child or an infant with an obstructed airway may be able to get the object out this way

2. How do I do the Heimlich maneuver on a child?

As long as she’s conscious, stand or kneel next to her, and lean her forward at the waist until her chest is parallel to the ground. Support her upper body with your arm. Use the heel of your other hand to deliver five firm, rapid back blows between her shoulder blades. If unsuccessful, move behind her and give five abdominal thrusts: Place the thumb side of your fist just above the belly button and below her breastbone and wrap your other hand over the fist. Repeat five back blows followed by five quick, upward and inward abdominal thrusts until item is dislodged or your child can cough, cry, or breathe.

3. What about on a baby?

Never give abdominal thrusts to a baby under age 1. Instead, rest him facedown over your forearm or on your lap with his head lower than his chest. To support his head, hold his jaw with one hand. Give five quick, firm back blows between his shoulder blades. If unsuccessful, turn him over and do five chest thrusts: Place two or three fingers in the center of his chest, just below the nipple line, and compress his breastbone about 1 1/2 inches. Repeat five quick, firm back blows with five chest thrusts until the item is visible and can be dislodged or your baby can cough, cry, or breathe again.

4. What can I do if my kid loses consciousness?

Get someone to call 911, or call yourself on speaker mode. Then lay her on her back on a flat, firm surface and begin CPR. Do 30 compressions by pushing hard and fast with overlapping hands, fingers interlaced in the middle of her chest, aiming for a rate of 100 compressions per minute. Next, look into her mouth. If you can see an object, remove it, but don’t put your finger into your child’s mouth if you can’t see anything. Now give two rescue breaths. For a big kid, pinch her nose shut and make a seal over her mouth with your mouth, blowing enough air to make her chest rise. For an infant, cover her mouth and nose with your mouth to give breaths. Repeat these steps until your child begins to breathe on her own or help arrives.