Choking - Babies under 1 year 

What to do if a baby is choking 
 
The information below is no replacement for attending a first aid course where you will have the opportunity to practice your skills under the guidance of one of our qualified and experienced first aid instructors. 
 
Children, particularly those under the age of five, often put objects in their mouths. This is just one of the many ways they learn and explore the world. Some objects such as marbles or even food are just the right size to get stuck in a child’s airway. Choking happens when a person’s airway suddenly gets either partly or fully blocked which results in them not being able to breathe properly. 
 
Prevention is always better than cure so it’s best to avoid an incident occurring in the first place by making sure that small objects are kept out of reach of children. However, no matter how careful you are there is still a chance that your child may choke on something. 
 
Choking – Baby (Under 1 year) 
 
The baby’s automatic reflexes will initiate a cough. If the choking is only mild, this will clear the obstruction – the baby may cry but should now be able to breathe effectively. 
If the baby is still choking, look inside the baby’s mouth and removing any obvious blockage. Do not poke your fingers into the baby’s mouth unless you can see and reach the blockage as you may push it further in. 
 
 
If the obstruction is not cleared: 
 
1. Back blows. 
Shout for help, but don’t leave the baby unattended yet. 
Lay the baby over your arm, face down, legs either side of your elbow with their head below their chest (see picture) Gravity alone can often help to dislodge the object. 
If this doesn’t work, give them up to 5 firm blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. Check the baby between blows and stop if you clear the obstruction. 
 
If the obstruction is still not cleared: 
 
2. Chest thrusts 
Turn the baby over, chest upwards, (by laying them on your other arm) and lower their head below the level of their chest. 
Give up to 5 chest thrusts. Using two fingers, push inwards and downwards (towards the head) against the baby’s breastbone, one finger's breadth below the nipple line. 
Check between thrusts and stop if you clear the obstruction. 
 
NEVER perform abdominal thrusts on a baby under one year old. 
 
Chest thrusts can cause internal injuries so if this technique is used you must take the baby to see a doctor immediately afterwards. 
 
If the obstruction is still not cleared: 
 
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 
Keep repeating steps 1 and 2 
If the treatment seems ineffective or after 3 cycles of back blows and chest thrusts there is still no change in the baby’s condition, continue to shout for help and call 999, or get someone else to do it. 
 
Once the baby or child’s airway is cleared, some of the material that caused the blockage can occasionally remain, causing later complications. If the choking victim has a persistent cough or difficulty swallowing following a choking incident, they need to see a health professional urgently. You should take the baby to A&E, an NHS Walk-in Centre or your GP if it’s during GP hours.