What to do when a child or baby is choking

What do you do when your child is choking?

Back blows and abdominal thrusts

When a child is struggling to breathe it is a distressing situation and calls for a cool head. GP, Dr Lisa Anderson, has provided an important summary for parents - or anyone who might be faced with this situation. The Resuscitation Council website has a summary on how to treat choking and can be seen here. Within her article for totalhealth, Dr Anderson provides a brief guide for what to do in an emergency.

1. Try to get the child to cough – a foreign body may be coughed up and the child may then improve, always check to make sure there is no deterioration in the child or in the effectiveness of the coughing.
2. If the cough is ineffective

  • Is the child unconscious? If so call for help, give 5 mouth to mouth breaths and start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • Is the child conscious? Give 5 back blows and 5 thrusts (see below).

Back blows are given by using the heel of the hand on the upper back of the child and try and create pressure and vibration to help the child dislodge a foreign body.

Abdominal thrusts, also known as the Heimlich manoeuvre, should really only be performed by those who know how to do these because of the risk of injuring the child. The person performing the thrust stands behind the child and uses their hands to put pressure on the bottom of the diaphragm. This causes compression of the lungs and hopefully enough pressure to dislodge the foreign body from the trachea.

Relating to the abdomen, which is the region of the body between the chest and the pelvis. Full medical glossary
Has a sudden onset. Full medical glossary
Emergency life support, with artificial respiration and cardiac massage. Full medical glossary
The strong muscular sheet separating the chest and abdominal cavities Full medical glossary
Relating to injury or concern. Full medical glossary
The windpipe. Full medical glossary