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SOS: If Your Baby’s Choking

If your baby is choking, you need to act calmly, quickly and confidently to assist her. And it’s not as scary – or as difficult – as it may seem. You just need to figure out if and why your baby’s choking and know how to help her

How to check if your baby’s choking...

1. Can you see an obstruction?

Ask yourself why your baby’s choking – was she eating something? Playing with something small? If so, that could be what she is choking on. 

2. Is she allergic to anything?

If your baby has an allergy, she may be choking because she’s come into contact with it. If this is the case, she may have gone into anaphylactic shock and will need medical attention as soon as possible.

3. Does she suffer from a heart condition?

Choking can be a sign of heart failure, particularly if your baby has a heart condition. In this situation, it’s best to seek medical help straight away.

4. Can your baby cry, cough or breathe?

If your baby can make a sound then her airway is only partially blocked. If she’s coughing, you should let her keep coughing as it’s the best way to clear out any obstructions.

If she isn’t making any noise or is producing a strange, high-pitched sound then you will need to help clear the obstruction for her – see below.

5. Are her skin, lips or fingernails turning bright red or blue?

If yes, then this means that the airflow is reduced and so not enough oxygen is flowing around her body. Try not to panic, and help clear the obstruction

It could also hint at croup, a respiratory condition where the lungs become inflamed or whooping cough.

How to help a choking baby

If you think your baby’s choking, then you need to help remove the blockage with back slaps and chest thrusts. Call the ambulance and NHS recommended instructions…

1. Lie your baby face down along your forearm or thigh and support her head.

2. Slap her back up to five times between her shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.

3. Stop after each slap to check (by looking inside your baby’s mouth) if the blockage has cleared. If you can see the obstruction, don’t put your fingers in her throat and try to pull it out as you may just push it in further.

4. If the airway is still blocked, give up to five chest thrusts and stop after each thrust to check if the blockage has cleared. Do this by using two fingers and push inwards and upwards (towards the head) against your baby’s breastbone, one finger's breadth below the nipple line.

5. If your baby’s airway is still blocked after three cycles of back slaps and chest thrusts, you should call an ambulance immediately. But don’t leave your baby – take her to the phone with you if there is no one else at home. 

6. Continue with the cycles of back slaps and chest thrusts until medical help arrives. And try your best to keep calm.

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