If your baby starts to choke, it can be absolutely terrifying, but knowing what to do if your baby is choking can make the difference between life and death. Babies tend to put everything in their mouths and have a smaller airway and esophagus than adults do, increasing their likelihood of choking. Odds are good that your baby may choke on something at some point in her life, so it’s a good idea to take a class in infant CPR and first aid. In the meantime, memorizing the steps below can help you feel more prepared for this scary situation.
Assess the Situation
If your baby begins to choke, you’ll need to think fast. The very first thing to do is call 911 so that, if you are unable to revive your baby, help will be on the way. If someone else is available, have them do it so you can tend to your choking baby. Then assess what’s actually happening. If your baby is coughing or gagging, her airway is not completely obstructed, which means you should continue to allow her to cough until she dislodges the object. It can be difficult not to intervene, but coughing is the best way for her to get rid of an object stuck in her airway. If your baby is turning red or blue, unable to breathe, and not coughing or crying, then her airway may be completely obstructed and it’s time to perform emergency care.
Try Back Blows
If your baby is unable to dislodge the object and unable to cough, the next step is to turn her so she is face down on your arm. Be sure to support her head and her neck. She should be tilted slightly downward. With your free arm, administer five blows to her back, in between her shoulder blades.
After administering back blows, carefully turn your baby over, being sure to continue to support her head and neck. Using two or three fingers, push down on her chest in the center. Imagine drawing a line between her nipples to the center of her chest; this is where you should be pushing. Administer five of these chest thrusts.
Continue to repeat this process until the object becomes dislodged or your baby begins to cough it up. Remove the object as soon as you can see it to remove it. If your baby becomes unconscious at any point, breathe directly into her throat to give her a “rescue breath”. Because your baby can become unconscious from lack of air even after the object is dislodged, it’s vitally important that you call for emergency backup help when your child begins to choke.