It’s not something many parents want to think about, but knowing how to help your child in the case of an emergency is very important. Babies can choke on food and small objects. If something becomes lodged in your baby’s airway, you’ll need to act fast.
The best way to be prepared to help your baby is to take an Infant Child CPR class in your community. In these classes, a trained professional will teach you the actions you need to take if your baby is choking or if he is in respiratory distress or cardiac arrest. Being able to practice with mannequins will help you learn the motions and feel more confident if you ever need to use them.
Because your baby won’t understand that he can cough to try to clear an object from his airway, and he isn’t going to know to show the the universal sign for choking (hands crossed near your neck), it’s important for parents to recognize the signs of choking in a baby:
- Lips or skin have a blue tinge
- Difficulty breathing, including the ribs and chest pulling inward
- Inability to cry or make much sound
- Weak, ineffective coughing
- Soft or high-pitched wheezing while inhaling
- Your baby may lose consciousness if the blockage is not cleared
If your baby is unable to cough, breathe or cry and seems distressed, he could be choking. You may need to administer first aid to help your baby clear his airway. Don’t try to use your fingers to dislodge the object because this could risk pushing it further into his airway. Alternating back blows and chest presses is the recommended method for clearing a baby’s airway when he is choking:
- Lie your baby face down across your lap, make sure his head is lower down than his bottom.
- Use your hand to support your baby’s head. Gently place your thumb and forefinger on either side of your baby’s jaw to support his head, this will ensure his airway is kept open. Be careful not to press on your baby’s neck.
- Give your baby five firm slaps between his shoulder blades using the heel of your hand. Pause between each blow to check whether the airway is still blocked. If the airway is still blocked after the five back blows, you’ll need to try chest presses.
- Lie your baby face up along your arm. You should lie your arm along your lap for extra support.Use your hand to support your baby’s head.
- The breastbone is the thin bone running down between the ribcage. Find this and place two fingers on the lower part of it.
- Use your two fingers to give five sharp chest thrusts. Push down gently but firmly on your baby’ breast bone, this should compress your baby’s chest about a third of the way down. Check to see whether the blockage has cleared. If it hasn’t, you’ll need to try back blows again.
When to seek help
If you have tried three sets of back blows and three sets of chest presses and the airway is still blocked, you need to ring for emergency help. Continue the back blows and chest presses until help arrives.
If your baby choked, even if you were able to clear the blockage, you should seek medical help afterwards. Your baby’s doctor will want to give him a checkup to ensure there were no complications.
If your baby isn’t breathing, you will need to perform cardiopulmonary respiration (CPR). This keeps oxygenated blood circulating and can help to prevent brain damage. If you think your baby isn’t breathing, shout for help immediately. You’ll need emergency medical help. Here’s what you’ll need to do until help arrives:
- Make sure your baby is in a neutral position, with the head and neck aligned. Use our fingers to gently lift the baby’s chin, being careful not to push on the soft bit of skin under the jaw.
- Now you need to check whether your child is breathing. Look for chest movements, listen at the nose and mouth for breathing sounds and feel for air movement with your cheek. Do this for no longer than 10 seconds.
- If your baby isn’t breathing, carefully remove any obstructions from the mouth before preparing to deliver five breaths.
- Take a breath and then cover your baby’s mouth and nose with your mouth, make sure it’s sealed. Blow a steady breath into your child’s mouth and nose for between 1 and 1.5 seconds. It should be enough to see your baby’s chest rise. Keeping their head tilted, move away to allow the air to come, the chest should fall as this happens. Repeat this sequence five times.
- Now it’s time to start chest compressions. Find the point at which your baby’s lowest ribs meet, one finger width above that is where you need to press. Push down with two fingers to compress the chest by about a third. Release the pressure then repeat. You should do it at the speed of 100 chest compressions a minute. After 30 compressions, it’s time to give two more breaths. Repeat this until your child shows signs of life or until help arrives.
Do a first aid course
Just reading an article about first aid is probably not enough. It’s better to practice what to do in an emergency situation with a trained professional. It’s well worth signing up for a course! You’re money is much better spend on any first aid course, than another new toy for your baby.
Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.