Choking First Aid Tips

Choking can result in unconsciousness or cardiopulmonary arrest. Additionally, when a child begins to choke, it’s easy to panic. We recommend that every parent take a (Pediatric Basic Life Support) training course to be prepared for choking emergency. Please check our Community Education Calendar for a course that’s offered in your neighborhood.

For children 12 months old or younger:

  1. Calmly sit down with the child in your arms.
  2. Supporting the infant’s head and neck with one hand, lay the infant face down on your thigh. The child’s head will need to be lower than her trunk.
  3. Forcefully but gently, deliver five back blows with the heel of your hand between the infant’s shoulder blades.
  4. Immediately, while still supporting the infant’s head, sandwich the infant between your hands and turn her onto her back. Again, the infant’s head will need to be lower than the trunk.
  5. Using two fingers, deliver five thrusts in the infant’s chest ( finger over breastbone at nipple line ).
  6. Repeat back blows and chest thrusts until item is dislodged.
  7. Continue until object is dislodged or until help arrives.
  8. Call ambulance.
  9. Don’t stick your finger in child’s throat to dislodge object. In most cases, this pushes the item further down the throat.

For anyone older than 12 months:

  1. Use the Heimlich Maneuver.
  2. Call ambulance.

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.