Injury Prevention

The Heimlich Maneuver

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents be very careful when their children begin to eat table foods. Older infants and children under age four are at greatest risk for choking on food and small objects.

Small food objects – and round food – such as grapes, raisins, popcorn and hard candy, as well as chunks of meat, hot dogs and peanut butter are especially dangerous. Make sure all food is cut into very small pieces.

Small household items are choking hazards, too. Keep small toys, marbles, balloons and coins out of the reach of small children.

Here are some tips to prevent choking:

  • Supervise mealtime for young children.
  • Keep dangerous food away from children under the age of four.
  • Do not permit young children to eat while running or playing.
  • Prepare and cut food into the appropriate size.
  • Teach children to chew well.

In case of choking, if the child cannot breathe or his airway is blocked, the Heimlich maneuver can be performed on children over one year old.

To perform the Heimlich maneuver on children over 1 year old:

  1. Remain calm.
  2. Stand or kneel behind a child who is conscious.
  3. Make a fist with one hand.
  4. Place the thumb side of the fist right above the belly button, and well below the bottom of the breastbone.
  5. Cover the fist with your other hand.
  6. Deliver five upward and inward thrusts into the child’s abdomen. The thrusts should quickly squeeze in the abdomen to help the child “cough out” the obstruction.
  7. Check the child after every five thrusts.
  8. Continue the abdominal thrusts until the object comes out or the child becomes unconscious.
  9. If the child becomes unconscious, call for emergency medical services.
Last Update
February 10, 2008
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Last Update
February 10, 2008