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How to Save a Baby or Child from Choking

Choking is a very common occurrence in small children and babies, and can lead to all sorts of problems if the blockage isn't dealt with quickly and safely. Read this guide to find out more information!

According to the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT), around 40 under-5s are rushed to hospital each day for choking or swallowing something dangerous. Babies especially are very prone to choking as they often put things inside their mouths, and they are still learning the correct chewing and swallowing process.

As children grow older they learn that various items and foods can be choking hazards, but choking still happens, even as adults. Can you remember the last time you choked and what caused it?

The Resus Rangers are here to provide some more information, and show you how to correctly and safely save a baby or child from choking...

What are some common choking hazards?

Food is, of course, the most common choking hazard for all ages. Even soft foods you might assume are safe such as marshmallows or jelly can cause blockages. Babies should not be given any solids until they have learnt how to chew and swallow correctly. Start very small and work your way up, always keeping an eye as they eat.

What else can be a choking hazard?

There are many household objects that babies especially could choke on such as coins, batteries, buttons, and more. Toys with small parts should not be given to children under three years old, and should be supervised when playing. Not all children choke loudly.

How do we stop a baby from choking?

The procedure for a baby is as follows:

  1. If the blockage is clearly visible in the mouth, use your little finger to carefully dislodge it. Do not push it in further!

  2. Lay the baby across your forearm and slap the back five times.

  3. Turn the baby around and use two fingers to thrust the chest upwards. Be careful not to cause any further damage to the child.

  4. Repeat steps two and three until dislodged.

How do we stop a child from choking?

The procedure for a child is as follows:

  1. Ask the child to cough.

  2. Place the child's chest against your thigh (or a steady surface) and slap the back five times.

  3. Make a fist with one hand, wrap the other around it, and thrust the abdomen five times.

  4. Repeat steps two and three until dislodged.

If the baby or child loses consciousness, call the emergency services immediately. If they are unconscious and not breathing, you must commence CPR.

Choking is a topic covered by the Resus Rangers School Resources Programme, teaching essential First Aid skills to primary school children in a child-centred way using animations, PowerPoints, activity sheets, and more! If you would like to bring the Resus Rangers to your school, click the button below to find out more information...

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