Choking in infants is usually caused by breathing in a small object that the baby has placed in their mouth, such as a button, coin, balloon, toy part, or watch battery.
Choking may result from a complete or partial blockage of the airway.
A complete blockage is a medical emergency.
A partial blockage can quickly become life threatening if the baby cannot get enough air.
When a person does not get enough air, permanent brain damage can occur in as little as 4 minutes.
Rapid first aid for choking can save a life.
The danger signs of choking are:
- Bluish skin color- Difficulty breathing — ribs and chest pull inward- Loss of consciousness (unresponsiveness) if blockage is not cleared- Inability to cry or make much sound- Weak, ineffective coughing- Soft or high-pitched sounds while inhaling
DO NOT perform these steps if the infant is coughing hard or has a strong cry. Strong coughs and cries can help push the object out of the airway.
If your child is not coughing forcefully or does not have a strong cry, follow these steps:- Lay the infant face down, along your forearm. - Use your thigh or lap for support. - Hold the infant’s chest in your hand and the jaw with your fingers. - Point the infant’s head downward, lower than the body.- Give up to 5 quick, forceful blows between the infant’s shoulder blades. Use the palm of your free hand.
If the object does not come out of the airway after 5 blows:- Turn the infant face-up. Use your thigh or lap for support. Support the head.- Place 2 fingers on the middle of the breastbone just below the nipples.- Give up to 5 quick thrusts down, compressing the chest one third to one half the depth of the chest.- Continue 5 back blows followed by 5 chest thrusts until the object is dislodged or the infant loses alertness (becomes unconscious).
If the child becomes unresponsive, stops breathing, or turns blue:
- Shout for help.- Give infant CPR. Call 999 after 1 minute of CPR.- If you can see the object blocking the airway, try to remove it with your finger. - Try to remove an object only if you can see it.