Most of the time, the food or object only partially blocks the trachea, is coughed up, and breathing returns to normal quickly. Kids who seem to be choking and coughing but still can breathe and talk usually recover without help. It can be uncomfortable and upsetting for them, but they're generally fine after a few seconds. Choking can be an emergency when an object can get into the trachea and completely block the airway. If airflow into and out of the lungs is blocked and the brain is deprived of oxygen, choking can become a life-threatening emergency.
An emergency choking is when a child can't breathe, is gasping or wheezing, can't talk, cry, or make noise, turns blue, grabs at his or her throat or waves arms, appears panicked, becomes limp or unconscious.
What should you do to help a choking child?
Treating infants (less than 1-year-old)
- If a choking infant can no longer breathe, cough, or make sounds, have someone call 108 emergency help immediately.
- Next, 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 five quick, forceful blows between the shoulder blades.
- If this fails, 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. 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, tell 108 immediately. Never put your fingers into the infant's mouth unless you can see the object. Doing so may push the blockage farther into the airway.
Treating children (above 1-year-old)
- Be sure the child really is choking. If she is coughing forcefully or talking, leave her alone; she's not choking. 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.
- Stand behind the child. Wrap your arms around the child's waist.
- Make a fist with one hand, thumb side in. Place your fist just below the chest and slightly above the navel.
- Grab your fist with the other hand.
- Press into the abdomen with a quick upward push. This helps to make the object or food come out of the child's mouth.
- Repeat this inward and upward thrust until the piece of food or object comes out.
- Once the object comes out, take your child to the doctor. A piece of the object can still be in the lung. Only a doctor can tell you if your child is OK.
- Since someone is already on the phone with 108, tell him or her immediately if the child passes out.
- Toys and household items also can be choking hazards. Beware of deflated balloons, coins, beads, small toy parts, and batteries. Get down on the floor often to check for objects that kids who are learning to walk or crawl could put in their mouths and choke on.
- Choose safe, age-appropriate toys. Always follow the manufacturer's age recommendations. Some toys have small parts that can cause choking. To determine if a toy is too small, see if it passes easily through an empty cardboard toilet paper tube. If it does, it's too small.
- At mealtime, be sure to serve a child's food in small bites. That means cutting whole grapes into quarters, and cooking vegetables rather than serving them raw. Teach kids to sit down for all meals and snacks and not to talk or laugh with food in their mouths.3. Avoid foods that pose choking risks (like nuts, grapes, raw carrots, raisins, hard or gummy candy, spoonfuls of peanut butter, chunks of meat or cheese, and popcorn), which are a similar size and shape as a child's airway.
- Train yourself and learn the CPR techniques to face emergency situations.