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Heather Graham
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First Aid Trainer with St John Ambulance. Teaches both parents and teachers how to perform first aid on babies and children. St John Ambulance is the leading first aid charity in the UK.
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Baby first aid

Baby choking

Babies usually gag food back up before they choke on it but they can choke if you are not careful. It's a good idea to know what to do if your baby chokes, and to understand the risks involved with different foods.
Video Tutorial
In Short

To reduce the chance of your baby choking:

Cut spherical foods like blueberries and grapes in half (length ways).

Avoid whole nuts until your child is at least 5.

Popcorn is also a high risk choking food.

Learn baby emergency first aid.

The best way to learn to save a choking baby is by doing a first aid course or to watch our First Aid video, above, made with St John Ambulance.

How do I know if my baby is really choking?

Choking is a blockage of the airway. So you need to clear it as a matter of priority.

In terms of knowing whether your baby is choked, look for signs and symptoms whether your baby is awake and moving, whether his eyes are open but he’s not able to make any noise. You may also see a blue tinge around his face and lips.

How do I stop my baby choking?

To clear the blockage, pick your baby up supporting his head. As you pick him up make sure that his head is facing down in comparison to his body. Lie him along your thigh as you sit on a chair. Babies are much more likely to choke on a liquid so in this position it allows it to drain away. Next, use the flat of your hand right against the centre of his back between his shoulder blades and deliver up to five back blows. You may be able to clear it with just three in which case there’s no need to do the other two.

If that doesn’t work you need to do something more. Put your baby back on a flat surface like your knees or onto the floor. Use two fingers in the centre of his chest and deliver up to five sharp chest thrusts.

If that doesn’t work, pick your baby back up and do five more back blows. Then back onto the ground. Five more chest thrusts. And continue that cycle until help arrives. If you’re absolutely on your own you can take your baby with you to the phone to make the call to the emergency services and you can carry on the treatment while that call is in progress.

If possible it is best to do an infant first aid course, such as one run by our expert partners St John Ambulance. You can watch our online video here too for a St John Ambulance trainer’s demonstration.

Here is the class practising:

Here is a summary video:

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DISCLAIMER
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.