Published: Friday 03 June 2016

Every parents nightmare is for their child to choke. It’s estimated that approximately 90% of parents attend first aid courses because they are worried about choking. So how real is it?

Child Accident Prevention Trust - CAPT report that each day around 40 under-5s are rushed to hospital after choking on something, or swallowing something dangerous. Food is the most likely cause, but small objects and toys can also be risky for young children.

So what do you do if your baby or child is choking?

Firstly recognise that they are actually choking. Coughing and spluttering is a normal stage of development as your baby learns what to do with food,how to chew and break it down. They have the ability usually to clear the object themselves. If they are coughing encourage them to cough either coughing with them or telling them to cough (age dependent) and remain calm. If they are gasping for breath, unable to produce any sound, looking blue around the lips or are unable to speak (age dependent). Take the following steps:

For children and adults

Step 1 – Back Blows

  • Shout for help
  • Lean the child forward over your knee or just leaning forwards
  • Give up to 5 firm back blows in between the shoulder blades with the palm of your hand, checking in between to see if the obstruction
    has dislodged.
  • This will usually clear most small objects in children and adults

Step 2 - Abdominal Thrusts

  • If this is not successful place your arms around the waist of the casualty facing away from you
  • Make a fist shape with one hand and place it above the belly button. Grip this fist with the other hand.
  • Pull in and up firmly up to five times.
  • Stop if the obstruction clears.

If the object has not cleared call for help, ring 999 and repeat steps 1 and 2.

For Babies Under 1 year

Step 1 – Back Blows

  • Shout for help
  • Lay the baby over your arm or lap, face down supporting the head and neck.
  • Give up to 5 blows in between the shoulder blades with the palm of your hand, checking in between to see if the object has dislodged.
  • This will usually clear most small objects in babies.

Step 2 - Chest Thrusts

  • If this is not successful turn the baby over, lower the head below the level of the chest
  • Place 2 fingers in the centre of the babies chest (breast bone) and press slowly five times. These are called chest thrusts. Check
    the mouth in between each one to see if the object has cleared.
  • Stop if the obstruction clears.
Never perform abdominal thrusts on a baby

If the object has still not cleared call for help, ring 999 and repeat steps 1 and 2.

If the baby or child becomes unconscious

In the very unlikely event that the obstruction does not clear and the baby/child becomes unconscious and stops breathing place them on a firm surface and start CPR. If you do not have training in CPR contact 999 and ask for an ambulance, keeping the baby or child with you when ever possible.

If the obstruction clears and you are concerned about your baby or child or have had to perform chest or abdominal thrusts please contact your GP for advice. Never practice any of these techniques on babies and children who are not choking. Please seek medical advice if you are concerned about the health of your baby or child.

If you would like to practice these techniques and more including baby and child CPR please undertake a baby and child first aid course. Julie Cleasby, RN - Child Health, Health Visitor.

One parent tells what happened when her daughter started choking:

Two months after I attended the baby first aid class, my seven month old daughter choked on a piece of bread. It was awful, one minute she was fine and the next she was hunched over in her high chair, purple in the face and gasping for air. Although I was terrified, because I had been on the course I felt confident in what I was doing and was able to help her.

If I hadn’t had the training I’m not sure I would have been able to stop feelings of panic from taking over or whether I would have been able to dislodge the food quickly, or at all. It may well be that the first aid training saved my daughter's life.

Kate and baby Isla
Brighton


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One parent tells what happened when her daughter started choking:

Two months after I attended the baby first aid class, my seven month old daughter choked on a piece of bread. It was awful, one minute she was fine and the next she was hunched over in her high chair, purple in the face and gasping for air. Although I was terrified, because I had been on the course I felt confident in what I was doing and was able to help her.

If I hadn’t had the training I’m not sure I would have been able to stop feelings of panic from taking over or whether I would have been able to dislodge the food quickly, or at all. It may well be that the first aid training saved my daughter's life.

Kate and baby Isla
Brighton