Your Child Is Choking, Do You Know What to Do?
Updated: Oct 22, 2019
One minute you and your child are laughing at the dinner table, the next minute your child is choking. Do you know what to do?
Choking is the fourth leading cause of accidental death in children. At least one child dies every five days from choking.
A lot of kids may cough forcefully when eating but are not, in fact, choking. If your child can speak and cough, they are not in need of help. A choking child will gag or make a high-pitched sound.
Ask your child, "Are you choking?" If she nods yes or cannot speak, let her know you can help.
Most important: Don't panic! Your child needs you to stay calm. Your child may start to turn purple or blue, may grab at his throat and may become limp.
You’ve recognized that they are choking – now what?
Act Quickly. If another person is with you, have them call 911. But you must act fast to dislodge the object.
NEVER BLINDLY SWEEP YOUR CHILD’S MOUTH! Doing so may push the object further down. If you see the object, using straight fingers try and remove it.
Here are the appropriate ways to dislodge an object based on the child’s age:
For a child under the age of 1, place the baby face down on your forearm. Your arm should be resting on your thigh. With the heel of your other hand, give the child 5 quick, forceful blows between the shoulder blades. After 5 back blows turn the infant on her back so that the head is lower than the chest. Place two fingers in the center middle of the breast bone, just below the nipples. Press inward rapidly five times, giving 5 compressions. Continue this sequence of five back blows and five chest thrusts until the foreign object comes out or until the infant loses consciousness (passes out). If the infant passes out, call 911 immediately and begin CPR.
If your child is over the age of one, you will perform the Heimlich maneuver. Stand behind the child and wrap your arms around the child's waist. This requires you to get down to the child’s height. Never raise the child up to your height. Make a fist with one hand, thumb side in. Place your fist just slightly above the belly button, and then grab your fist with the other hand. Press into the abdomen with a quick upward push. Repeat this inward and upward thrusts until the piece of food or object comes out. If the food does not come out, the child will pass out. Immediately call 911 and begin CPR.
Children can choke on anything. Reinforcing proper meal etiquette can reduce incidents of choking. Children should practice not talking with their mouth full, no running while eating and no rough housing at the table.
Carrots, grapes, hot dogs, apples, grape tomatoes, popcorn, and sucking candy are frequently culprits of choking. Balloons and band-aids are also big choking hazards. A good piece of advice is to cut food into thin, long slices. Grapes should be cut vertically, hotdogs long vertical slices, and anything cut in a cube can be choked on.
Once the food comes out and your child is acting fine, then your child is fine! If you are worried you should feel comfortable making a call to your pediatrician. If the object that was choked on was sharp, it may cause some irritation on the way back up and further evaluation is necessary.
Be prepared and know what to do!
About the Author
Mozelle Goldstein, a registered nurse with a B.S. in nursing, not only works with children fighting cancer and blood disorders, she’s also a mommy to three beautiful children of her own. Mozelle is passionate about promoting the safety and well-being of all children, as well as fitness and the empowerment that comes along with being a strong female.
She works as a class instructor, coach and CPR instructor here at Woodmere Fitness Club.
“Fitness has become part of my life, of who I am. To me, it means health, strength, and empowerment. My kids see my commitment to keeping myself fit and healthy and, in turn, I want to do the same.”