Signs of Choking in an Infant
Parents don’t receive any kind of training before a baby arrives, but they usually manage to figure most things out. One of the most common unknowns that they should educate themselves on is how to recognize when a baby is choking.
When an adult is choking, it can be fairly easy to tell by the noises and gestures they make. Babies make a lot of noise in general, which can make it difficult to tell when a noise is an alert to an emergency. If you notice any of these signs, especially while your child is eating, seek emergency help immediately.
- Your child’s face gets darker or develops a blue tinge.
- Your infant appears to be crying, but is not making any sound.
- Your child begins flailing.
- Your child has to make an effort to breathe.
If you have determined that your child is choking, try to remain as calm as you can and remember these tips to deliver first aid to a choking baby.
- Assess the situation.
If a child is able to cough or gag, the airway may only be partially blocked. In this case, you may allow the child to continue to cough to try to dislodge the object. If, however, they are unable to cry or cough, something may be blocking his or her airway.
- Call 911.
As soon as you’ve determined that your baby is choking, if you’re unsure how to handle the situation, call 911 (or designate someone to do it for you). The more promptly you call, the sooner your baby can get the attention he or she needs.
- Use back blows.
To administer back blows, the baby should be face-up and propped on one forearm. Cradle the back of the head with the same hand. Place the other hand and forearm on the baby’s front and use your fingers and thumb to hold open the baby’s jaw. Turn the baby over face-down on your forearm and, with the heel of your hand, deliver five firm pats between the shoulder blades.
- Perform chest thrusts.
Like with back blows, place your thumb and fingers to hold the baby’s jaw open. Keeping the baby between your forearms (to ensure head and neck support), place the tips of two or three fingers in the center of the baby’s chest. Push straight down on the chest approximately 1.5 inches. Deliver five chest thrusts, allowing the chest to return to normal position following each thrust.
- Repeat 5 back blows and 5 chest thrusts until the object is dislodged or EMS arrives.
Infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be a useful skill for parents. Consider taking a class to gain the skills and confidence needed to administer chest compressions and rescue breaths to children in choking emergencies.