What To Do If A Baby Chokes

Give up to five back blows

There’s a lot to learn as a new parent and you’re often bombarded with information from endless sources. You might automatically dedicate time to deciding which pushchair or crib to buy, but what about time spent learning first aid? Learning first aid is easy so set aside time to learn some simple first aid skills in case your baby or child becomes ill or hurts themselves. It could make all the difference such as knowing what to do if a baby chokes. 

Knowing some simple skills can really help parents feel prepared to deal with a first aid emergency. Our research shows that 65% of parents wished they had learnt first aid before becoming a parent.* My colleagues and I at the British Red Cross really encourage any parent, grandparent or anyone who cares for a baby or child to learn first aid.

Did you know that three out of four parents in the UK would not be able to save their baby from choking?**

Newborn babies can even choke on things such as curdled milk, mucus or vomit. As they move on to solids and explore by putting things into their mouths, food or small toys can easily get stuck in their throats, stopping them from breathing.

What To Do If A Baby Chokes

A choking baby won’t be able to cough, cry, make any noise or breathe. So, if your baby is choking, you should:

1. Give up to five back blows

Give up to five back blows - What To Do If A Baby Chokes

Hold them face down along your thigh with their head lower than their bottom. Support their head and hit them firmly on their back between their shoulder blades.

The back blows create a strong vibration and pressure in the airway, which can dislodge the object.

If back blows do not dislodge the object, move on to step two.

2. Give up to five chest thrusts

Give up to five chest thrusts - What To Do If A Baby ChokesTurn the baby over on to their back and place two fingers in the middle of their chest just below the nipples. Push sharply downwards.

Chest thrusts squeeze the air out of the baby’s lungs and may dislodge the object.

3. Call 999 if the object does not dislodge.

Continue cycles of back blows and chest thrusts until help arrives, the blockage clears or the baby becomes unresponsive.

This is just one key skill to get you started. Baby first aid is easy to learn and simple to do. Choose how you learn first aid – you never know when you might need it.

* Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,013 parents with children aged five and under.

** Online survey of 2,008 adults conducted by Critical Research, April 2017

Tracey Taylor

Tracey has worked for the British Red Cross for just over 10 years. She regularly demonstrates essential first aid skills including what to do if your baby is choking, has a burn or is having a febrile seizure.