How to help a Choking Baby

The subject of infant choking feels morbid, but it is of the upmost importance that you familiarize yourself with WHEN to help a baby choking (most of the time they don’t actually need help or a slap on the back, just to remain nearby and encourage them) and HOW to help a baby. Time is of the essence to prevent brain damage and death, but most 911 calls take several minutes for help to arrive. Learning how to prevent choking and intervene quickly can tremendously effect positive outcomes for your little one.

CLICK ON THE VIDEO BELOW TO WATCH:


Gagging and coughing is EXPECTED as babies are learning to eat solids, but this video goes over when you need to intercede and how to help. The back-blow technique that I demonstrate in this video is for babies age 12 months and under. We will (one day when my husband and I are less traumatized from working together on this video) make a separate video demonstrating for kids and adults later.

Choking is one of the leading causes of death for babies and kids, especially up to about age 3-4. There are practical steps you can take to prevent choking, like:

  • Make sure babies and kids are SEATED at the table to eat in an upright position to eat.

  • They should be FREE OF DISTRACTIONS like TV/movies, iPad, etc. This can be particularly hard with our busy on-the-go lifestyles (at least for me personally).

  • Make sure they are SUPERVISED.

  • Avoid foods that are round and slippery. Use extra caution with nuts of any kind. (Side Note: It’s very important to expose your kid to peanuts starting at 4-5 months of age to reduce their risk of developing a peanut allergy by 80%, so use Bamba or nut butters). Grapes, candy, and hot dogs are particularly dangerous.

 
A great way to check off all of the precautions is to sit down at the table to eat as a family.    Researchers have found that eating dinner as a family is one of the best things you can do for your kids’ body, mind, and soul.

A great way to check off all of the precautions is to sit down at the table to eat as a family. Researchers have found that eating dinner as a family is one of the best things you can do for your kids’ body, mind, and soul.

 
  • Make sure to SMALL DICE (about the size of a cheerio, especially on firmer foods) your baby’s food until they are able to adequately grind and mash their foods themselves with their gums and stick to manageable, soft foods especially in the beginning. Curious about Baby Led Weaning? Here is some info on how to safely try that method. Mealtimes can be messy, but having baby feed themselves small soft chunks of food also helps with the development of their pincer grasp.

 
We have done a mix of BLW and offering soft, small chunks to Coco. These  Rose Kuli  food clippers are awesome and make cleanup way easier for dicing food into small, cheerio-sized chunks.

We have done a mix of BLW and offering soft, small chunks to Coco. These Rose Kuli food clippers are awesome and make cleanup way easier for dicing food into small, cheerio-sized chunks.

 

I recommend EVERYONE get CPR trained, because you never know when someone will need help. The CPR class shows the techniques with a mannequin / doll and my other tip (if you have a baby) is to practice getting them into position to give back blows (but don’t actually give back blows, obviously). I was UTTERLY SHOCKED with how different it felt and how hard it was to get my 25 pound wiggly baby into position the first time I practiced. When you are frantic is NOT the best time to learn, so get familiar with how to hold them.

  • The last tip I have is to invest in a Life Vac and get familiar with how to use it. I purchased the Travel Kit for about $70, which comes with an adult and child mask. It is designed to be used when the Heimlich is not effective, which happens in 30% of choking cases. It is a one-way valve that sucks out the obstructed object from the airway to either resolve the choking incident or remove the object to be able to give effective CPR, and is easy to use during practice.

 
The Life Vac is a product designed to remove an airway blockage after the Heimlich does not work, which happens in 30% of choking cases. Shown above is the travel kit ($69.95).

The Life Vac is a product designed to remove an airway blockage after the Heimlich does not work, which happens in 30% of choking cases. Shown above is the travel kit ($69.95).

 

I hope you never have to use any rescue interventions, but I personally feel much better knowing what to do if the situation ever arose and I hope you will too!

-Traci Lyn Clark RN, BSN, OCN, PHN



I’m always all ears if you have any products or tips that make your life easier… please send them my way so that I can share with the other Poppie Ladies!