Choking is a common cause of injury and death in young children, primarily because their small airways are easily obstructed. It takes time for babies to master the ability to chew and swallow food, and babies might not be able to cough forcefully enough to dislodge an airway obstruction.
How to keep your baby safe
Infant choking is scary, but it’s largely preventable. Understand why babies are so vulnerable to choking — and what you can do to prevent infant choking.
- Properly time for the introduction of solid foods -Wait until your baby is at least 4 months old to introduce pureed solid foods.
- Don’t offer high-risk foods– Don’t give babies or young children hot dogs, chunks of meat or cheese, grapes, raw vegetables, or fruit chunks, unless they’re cut up into small pieces. Don’t give babies or young children hard foods, such as seeds, nuts, popcorn and hard candy that can’t be changed to make them safe options.
- Supervise mealtime– Don’t allow your child to throw food in the air and catch it in his or her mouth or stuff large amounts of food in his or her mouth.
- Carefully evaluate your child’s toys– Don’t allow your baby or toddler to play with small balls, marbles, toys that contain small parts or toys meant for older children.
- Keep hazardous objects out of reach-Like coins, button batteries, dice and pen caps.
Signs of Infant Choking
- Unable to cry or vocalize
- Cyanosis or bluish colored skin
- Gasping for air
- Weak ineffective coughing
- High pitched breathing noises like wheezing
Steps to follow when your baby is choking
- Kneel or sit with the infant in your lap.
- Remove clothing from infant’s chest.
- Hold the infant face down on your forearm, which is resting on your lap or thigh to support the infant.
- Deliver up to 5 back slaps forcefully between the infant’s shoulder blades, using the heel of your hand. Deliver each slap with sufficient force to dislodge the foreign body.
- After this, place your free hand on the infant’s back, supporting the back of infants head with your palm and turn the infant as a unit.
- Hold the infant face up, with the forearm resting on your thigh .Keep the infant’s head lower than the trunk.
- Provide up to 5 quick downward chest thrusts in the middle of the chest at the rate of 1 per second.
- Repeat the sequence of up to 5 back slaps and upto 5 chest thrusts until object is removed.
- If the infant becomes unresponsive, stop giving back slaps and begin CPR, starting with chest compressions.
To be prepared in case of an emergency take a class on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and choking first aid for children. Encourage everyone who cares for your child to do the same.