It’s hard – perhaps impossible – to put into words that feeling of being a parent: the unconditional love that comes with a new arrival. However, this love is often accompanied by exhaustion, worry and stress, all connected with your baby’s health. In the first few weeks even a hiccup from the little one will probably have you worrying. So, if your child was choking, would you know what to do? After reading this article, you will!
Get that out of your mouth!
Of all people, babies are at the highest risk of choking. Firstly, they have tiny windpipes – approximately the size of a drinking straw. Secondly, they don’t have much control over the expulsion of air in their system, so they struggle to clear their windpipes in a single exhalation. Mainly, though, it’s because they insist on putting just about anything in their mouths!
Everyone knows that if you give a baby something – a toy, a book, your hand! – the odds are that it’ll go straight into their mouth. That’s because it’s the only way they can tell how it feels. The problem is that, without teeth, chewing and softening can be a struggle. So, whether it’s a bit of food or a stray piece of Lego they’ve found on the floor, a baby is always at risk of choking. And it can be fatal.
You already know this, of course. Babies can and do choke. What you might not be so certain of, is what you should do if a baby is choking.
Well, the first thing is to stay calm. Try to evaluate the situation, then respond with the appropriate treatment.
Simple Step by Step Choking Treatment
First, lay the baby (facing downwards) onto your arm or knee, while supporting the head. Make sure the head is below the chest.
Now give 5 gentle but firm back blows between the baby’s shoulder blades, using the heel of your hand.
These blows will create pressure and vibration in the baby’s airway, which will often push the item out.
Check if the obstruction has cleared, but DO NOT put your fingers in the baby’s mouth, as you risk pushing the item further down the throat and escalating the problem.
If the backs blows didn’t work, turn the baby over so that s/he is now facing upwards. Again, support the head, so that it’s lower than the chest.
Now, placing two fingers in the middle of the chest (just below the nipples), push down sharply up to five times.
These Chest Thrusts squeeze air out of the baby’s lungs helping to dislodge the blockage.
Call Emergency Services
If the back blows and chest thrusts have not dislodged the blockage, call 999 immediately. If possible, get somebody else to make the call for you. While waiting for an ambulance to arrive, don’t stop! Continue repeating Steps 1 and 2, to try and loosen or dislodge the blockage completely, and help the baby to breathe.
Just the tip of the iceberg for paediatric first aid
Sadly, choking is just one of the many scrapes that a baby or child can get itself into. So how can you prepare for such situations? Well, you can read blogs and hope the worst never happens. Or you could book yourself onto a paediatric first aid course and tick all your parenting boxes.
There are many courses available - in fact, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice. We work with many organisations that provide fantastic courses - St John Ambulance, British Red Cross and Millie’s Trust all run amazing child first aid courses. We went along to a Millie’s paediatric course recently and loved it, see how we got on here.
A small favour - if you have a baby in your family, or have friends with a baby, please take the time to share this post with them or anyone else you know. Let’s help to make sure everyone is aware of what to do if a baby is choking.