The first step in choking first aid is recognising that a child has an airway blockage. This guide explains the signs and takes you through what to do when a child is choking.
Partial airway blockage: choking signs
The following signs can tell you that a child’s airway is partially blocked:
- loss of voice
- choking noises
- coughing that keeps getting worse
- anxiety and agitation
- stridor (a shrill rattling sound)
- sudden chest pain.
Complete airway blockage: choking signs
The following signs can tell you that a child’s airway is completely blocked:
- The child can’t breathe.
- The child can’t make any sounds.
- No air is getting out of the child’s nose and/or mouth.
- The child’s skin goes pale or blue in colour.
- The child starts to lose consciousness quickly.
Choking first aid for airway blockage
If a child is choking and you think she has a blocked airway, phone 000 immediately.
For a baby under one year do the following:
- Lay the baby facing downwards on your forearm or over your thigh – remember to always support baby’s head and neck.
- If the baby is old enough to understand, encourage him to cough.
For a child aged over one year do the following:
- Encourage the child to lean forward.
- Encourage the child to cough while you’re waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
Check out our illustrated guide to choking first aid
. You could print it out and stick it somewhere handy, like your fridge.