Choking – Infants under 1 year
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
How can I help?
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).
What if the infant 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.