What to do if your child is choking

Posted on March 6th, 2018

Follow these five steps to help your child if he is choking.

What to do if your child is choking

If your child’s airway becomes partially or completely blocked, he will choke. And if he is unable to get enough oxygen into his lungs, he may lose consciousness. To restore normal breathing, the blockage must be removed.

Signs that your child is choking:

  • His breathing is obstructed.
  • Your child’s face may turn blue.
  • He tries to cry but is making strange noises or no sound.

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Follow these steps to help your child if he is choking:

Get him to cough

Encourage your child to cough as this will help to dislodge the obstruction.


If the obstruction is still there or he seems to be weakening, bend him forwards, stand behind him and to the side, and slap him sharply five times between the shoulder blades with the flat of your hand.

If your child is an infant and choking, lay him down with his head low along your forearm. While supporting his head, perform the five sharp slaps.

Chest thrusts

For a child, you will need to stand or kneel behind him. Make a fist and place it over the centre of his chest. Cover your fist with your other hand and give five sharp inward thrusts.

For a baby, if the backslaps fail to clear the blockage, turn him face up while lowering him in an upside-down position on your forearm. Place two fingers on the lower half of the breastbone and give five sharp downward thrusts. These act as artificial coughs.

Look in his mouth

Put your finger on his tongue to clear the view. (Don’t put a finger down his throat unless you can see the obstruction to hook it out).

Abdominal thrusts

If the blockage is still there, make a fist, place this below the ribcage and make five upward thrusts.

Get help

Call an ambulance if the above steps don’t work, and repeat the sequence until help arrives. If your child loses consciousness, be ready to resuscitate him.

ALSO SEE: 10 suprising chocking hazards for babies and toddlers

What to do if your child has stopped breathing:

Open the airway

Lay your child down on his back on a firm surface. Place two fingers under his chin and tilt his head back.

Give ventilation

Using your finger and thumb, pinch your child’s nostrils closed. Inhale, put your mouth over his mouth making a complete seal, and breathe out until his chest rises. Remove your mouth and watch the chest fall. Give one breath every three seconds.

Check the pulse

After one minute of ventilation, check the pulse in your child’s neck. If there is no pulse, give chest compressions – place the heel of your hand below the ribcage and press down sharply five times in three seconds.

After every set of five compressions, give one breath of ventilation. Don’t stop to check your child’s pulse unless he shows signs of reviving. Alternate five compressions in three seconds with one breath of ventilation. Repeat until your child coughs and the object is dislodged.

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