caring adult looking after choking child

How do you Identify Choking in Your Child?

Just how do you know when your child or baby is choking? How will they be reacting. What do you urgently need to do to help?

Let’s face it – you are constantly chasing your children around and telling them to stop putting things in their mouths. This could be soil, toys or whatever they have recently excavated from their nasal mine…

Most of this is harmless – except from a hygiene point of view. Sometimes however, things can go wrong and they might start choking.

What is choking?

Airways affected by choking

Choking is what occurs when your child’s airway becomes blocked. Most commonly, this is when your child is eating or playing. A piece of food or a small toy can very quickly block your child’s airway causing them to choke. You can take a look at the NHS website here.

What are the signs of choking

An episode of choking comes on very quickly. It can be a sudden onset of loud coughing. How will your child react? Your child will usually cry and try to tell you what is happening. This is called Effective Coughing. In this case our child will be able to take a breath between coughs and he or she will be fully responsive.

A more serious sign of choking is Ineffective Coughing. This is when your child is unable to react and tell you what is happening. Their cough will be quiet or even silent. When they are unable to breathe properly their skin will turn blue. This is a very urgent sign that not enough oxygen is getting into their blood. Very quickly your child will become unresponsive. This is the time to act.

What do you do if your child is choking?

Choking Stopwatch

If your child is Coughing Effectively you may not need to do anything physical for them at all. Encourage them to keep coughing. As long as they are responsive to you this should be all they need. Keep a really close eye on them. Whatever is causing them to choke should clear by itself if they are coughing effectively.

If your child is Coughing Ineffectively you need to act fast! Call for help immediately if you can. The best thing you can do is start giving them back blows. Point your child’s head towards the ground. With the heel of your hand start hitting them in the centre of their back between their shoulder blades. Do this up to 5 times.

You may need to also do abdominal thrusts. From behind your child put your arms around them under their arms. Clench one fist and put it between their navel and the bottom of their breastbone. Grasp your fist with your other hand and pull sharply inwards and upwards. Do this up to 5 times.

If your child is choking, either of this methods should create an ‘artificial cough’. What your are doing increasing pressure in the chest cavity. This pressure should be enough to dislodge whatever is in the airway.

What if it doesn’t work?

Call 999! If you can, get someone to call for you. If not, take your child to the phone and continue to do the 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts whilst you make the call. Keep doing them until help arrives.

See more here

Here is a short video from the British Red Cross showing exactly what you should do if your child is coughing ineffectively.

What about babies or infants choking?

baby in distress

You can do back blows on a baby or infant. Put your baby on your lap, face down. Support your baby under their chin and deliver up to 5 sharp back blows between the shoulder blades. You may be able to dislodge the obstruction within these 5 back blows.

If this doesn’t work you should turn your baby to face you. Support their head and, using 2 fingers, deliver up to 5 chest thrusts to the centre of their chest.

As with bigger children, either of this methods should create an ‘artificial cough’ as you are increasing pressure in the chest cavity. This pressure should be enough to dislodge whatever is in the airway.

What if it doesn’t work?

Call 999! If you can, get someone to call for you. If not, take your baby to the phone and continue to do the 5 back blows and 5 chest thrusts whilst you make the call. Keep doing them until help arrives.

See more here

Here is a short video from the British Red Cross showing exactly what you should do if your baby or infant is choking:

In conclusion

We really hope that you never have to use these skills. It is vital that everyone knows what to do if they are confronted by emergency situations. Visit our website to find out more about the courses we offer. Click our logo below.

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