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How to help a choking baby

How to help a choking baby

Did you know that 65% of parents wished they had learned first aid before becoming a parent?*

For new and expectant parents, it can feel like there’s a staggering amount to do and learn. But by taking a few moments to learn some simple first aid skills as part of your preparations, you can feel confident that you could help your little one in an emergency situation.

Here, British Red Cross explains how to help a baby (under the age of one) who is choking.

Newborn babies can choke on things such as curdled milk, mucus or vomit.


As babies move on to solids and explore by putting things into their mouths, food or small toys can easily get stuck in their throat, stopping them from breathing.

If a baby is choking, they will be unable to cry, cough, make any other noise or breathe.

Find out how to help them by watching the video or reading the first aid advice below:

  1. Give up to five back blows. Hold the baby face down along your thigh with their head lower than their bottom. Hit them firmly on their back between the shoulder blades up to five times. If back blows do not dislodge the object, move on to step two.
  2. Give up to five chest thrusts. Turn the baby over so they are facing upwards and place two fingers in the middle of their chest just below the nipples. Push sharply downwards up to five times.
  3. Call 999 if the object does not dislodge. Continue with cycles of back blows and chest thrusts, until the object dislodges, help arrives or the baby becomes unresponsive.

Learn first aid

A British Red Cross First aid for baby and child course, available at more than 50 venues around the UK, will give you the confidence to be able to help your baby in an emergency situation should you need to.

The course covers a broad range of topics from burns to unresponsiveness to febrile seizures, and you don’t need any first aid knowledge prior to the course. It’s ideal for parents, parents-to-be, family members, or anyone who may be looking after the little one.

Click here to learn more

Download the app

For first aid at your fingertips, download the free British Red Cross Baby and Child First Aid app, available from the App Store and Google Play.

* First aid information provided by British Red Cross. Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,013 parents with children aged 5 and under.

Photo: Bob Collier

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