Signs a baby is choking: what to do
Signs a baby is choking include distress, coughing, gagging, noisy breathing, struggling to breath, no sounds, paleness, changing colour in the face, and loss of consciousness.
If a baby shows any signs of choking, phone 000 immediately. Follow the steps to clear a blockage, shown next. The operator will stay on the line to help you.
Lay baby down on your forearm or thigh. With the heel of your hand, give a firm back blow between the shoulder blades. Give up to 5 back blows. Look in baby’s mouth between each blow to check whether the blockage has cleared.
Choking first aid: next steps
If the blockage hasn’t cleared, lay baby on their back. Put 2 fingers in the centre of the chest between the nipples. Give up to 5 firm, quick chest thrusts. Look in baby’s mouth between each thrust to check whether the blockage has cleared.
If the blockage has come loose and you can see it in baby’s mouth, remove the object with your little finger. Put baby into the recovery position on their side with their head tilted down. Stay with baby until emergency help arrives.
If baby is still choking, alternate 5 back blows and 5 chest thrusts until emergency help arrives. If baby becomes unconscious, start baby CPR.
Babies can choke on anything smaller than a 20-cent piece. Keep small objects out of reach. Check the floor by getting down to your baby’s height and looking around.
Always supervise babies while they’re eating solid food. Keep food pieces small. Cook, grate or mash hard food like hard fruits and vegetables. Avoid whole nuts and other hard foods.
Always follow the age recommendations on toys. Avoid toys with small parts, breakable parts, brittle surfaces or button batteries. Check toys for exposed stuffing and loose screws and buttons.
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