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Baby and Child First Aid

Questions and answers about giving first aid for ababy who is choking

Here are some questions people often ask. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please feel free to email us at firstaid@redcross.org.uk or use this form.

Q

What can a baby choke on?

Answer
Answer

New born babies can choke on things such as curdled milk, mucus or vomit. As they move onto solids and explore by putting things into their mouths, food or small toys can easily get stuck in their throat, stopping them from breathing.

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Q

How hard should the back blows be?

Answer
Answer

You should change the force of the back blows depending on the size of the baby.You need to be gentler with a smaller baby than you are with a larger baby. The force you use to deliver the back blows should also be relative to your own strength.  The back blows need to be hard enough to cause a vibration in the windpipe and dislodge the object.

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Q

Why do I have to hold my baby with its head lower than its bottom?

Answer
Answer

With babies, the blockage is often a liquid (milk curdle or mucous) so keeping their head lower than their bottom helps the liquid to drain out – gravity will lend a helping hand.

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Q

Why do I have to support the head?

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Answer

Supporting the head will help to keep the airway open, helping to dislodge the object from the baby’s airway.

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Q

Can I do abdominal thrusts (Heimlich manoeuvre) on a baby?

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Answer

No, don’t squeeze a baby’s tummy. Abdominal thrusts are used to treat choking in children and adults only. Using abdominal thrusts on a baby could cause further damage as their internal organs are fragile and still developing.

If back blows do not dislodge the object, you should use chest thrusts instead.

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Q

Should I try to pull the object out with my fingers?

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Answer

We do not recommend putting your fingers blindly into their mouth to try and remove any foreign object. You risk pushing the object further down or actually damaging the soft, sensitive tissue at the back of the throat, which could swell and cause further harm  . However, if you can clearly see an object in a baby's mouth and you are able to pluck it out safely with your fingertips, you could do so.

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Q

What should I do if my baby becomes unresponsive and stops breathing?

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Q

If my baby is choking, should I hang them upside down by their feet?

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Answer

No, this is not effective and may cause further injury if you happen to drop them. Tipping them upside down may also move the object further down their throat.

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Q

How do I treat a child who is choking?

Answer

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