Todays blog post covers what to do when a baby is choking. Amazingly it would seem that every
parent / guardian would know what to do in these situations; however this is not always the case. This is by no means the fault of any parent as this type of training is not mandatory, and is only often covered on first aid courses.

This is the first post in our new range of paediatric video tutorials. The aim is to condense basic first aid skills into manageable bites. We feel the best avenue for this is through short video clips which are easy to understand.

Choking Video

Choking is a major problem which affects the whole of the population; however it goes without saying that infants and children are by far the most vulnerable groups. So much so that choking is actually the 4th biggest cause of accidental infantile deaths. This is very sad as choking is easily treatable by keeping calm and putting an action plan in place. Have a look at the video below, which breaks this down for you.

You can see from the video that there are three clear steps to follow. These have been broken down further for you below:

1 - Check the airway

The first step is to check the airway to see if there is a visible obstruction. Sometimes the object may be visible (close to the lips). In these cases it can be pulled out and the problem is usually solved there and then. However never put your fingers deep into the mouth. This could push the object further down and make the situation far worse. Simply move onto step 2 when the object is deeper into the mouth / airway.

2 - Back Blows

Initially the best way to clear an object is to deliver five sharp back blows between the middle of the shoulder blades. This is done by using the palm of the hand to deliver a firm blow (keeping in mind that it is a baby). The scale of force is always relative to the size of the individual.

The mouth should be checked after the back blows are complete. The obstruction may have cleared and you may notice that the baby’s face has relaxed. Instinct will often tell you if the baby is still choking. If so move onto step 3.

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3 - Chest Thrusts

Do not panic if the object has not cleared after the five initial back slaps. This often means that the object could be lodged a little deeper, and will need further force to remove it. This is achieved through the use of chest thrusts. Use two fingers to jab into the sternum. This has the effect of creating an upward rush of air, which will hopefully push the object clear of the mouth. Repeat up to five times.

If unsuccessful repeat the cycle of back blows and chest thrusts three times before summoning for an ambulance. Luckily this is quite rare as the choking protocol nearly always works, when used correctly.