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.
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.
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.
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
If you would like more information on how to prevent infant choking: The American Academy Of Pediatrics News and Journals.
Best of Baby Feeding Equipment and Natural Baby Food Review: http://poppielady.com/blog/2019/2/24/baby-feeding-equipment-food-review
Thank you to CPR instructors Michael Sarabia and Jenny Fernando of Health Education Services for reviewing the video and providing feedback!
Thank you to Raised Real for the Hangry Pack (they offer organic and healthy baby meals)