Choking in children: what to do if my child chokes

Choking in children: what to do if my child chokes

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Choking is one of the most common causes of injury in children between 6 months and 3 years of age. Certain foods are hazardous, such as sausages, hard candy, whole grapes and nuts, but any food or piece of food can get stuck in the windpipe and cause choking.

What should we do if a child chokes? As parents, and indeed anyone who looks after young children, you should have basic first aid skills and know what to do in the event of choking.

Heimlich manoeuvre in children

If a child chokes, it is recommended that the child coughs to expel the piece blocking the windpipe. If it does not come out, the Heimlich manoeuvre should be performed.

The Heimlich manoeuvre is a practice performed in case of choking to expel a piece of food or object obstructing the airway.

It is performed on people who are still conscious and consists of compression or abdominal thrusts by placing the fist of one hand below the rib cage and above the navel.

With the other hand on top of the list, press with a rapid upward movement so that the object obstructing the airway is pushed out. If it does not come out, continue to do this again and again.

The pressure must be strong and rapid, inwards and upwards, pushing until the foreign body that is suffocating the child comes out. If the child loses consciousness, cardiopulmonary resuscitation manoeuvres should be started.

Do not give them liquids during choking or put your hand in their mouth; you could aggravate choking.

Heimlich manoeuvre in infants under one year of age

Due to the fragility of babies, the Heimlich manoeuvre is different for children under one year of age than it is for older children.

In the case of a baby, we must place his face down on your forearm or your knees and give him firm but gentle blows on his back (between the shoulder blades) with the hollow hand.

If the foreign body has not come out, turn the baby over and press hard 5 times in a row in the centre of the chest. Alternate back slaps with chest compressions until the foreign body is expelled or until medical help arrives.

Here is a video explaining the technique, and although I hope you don’t have to do it, it is very important to know how to react in those moments when we panic and every second counts.

It is key to know what to do when our baby suffers a choking, either with a piece of food or with any object that may have been swallowed, such as a piece of a toy, a dice, a battery, a button, etc.

Prevention to avoid accidents

When offering food to our little ones and offering them food in a size that reduces the risk of choking when eating, we must ensure that children eat calmly and without haste and that they chew well. As with any food, children should be prevented from jumping, running or talking while eating.

Even so, although we try to prevent accidents, they do happen, and it is advisable to be prepared to act quickly in the event of choking.

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