Did you know?
Children don’t fully master the techniques of chewing and swallowing until they’re between four and six years old, so choking is always a hazard. A child’s windpipe is similar to a drinking straw in terms of diameter so it can easily become blocked by food, a toy or anything else they might find.
If a baby (under 12 months) is choking:
- Call for help from your colleagues but don’t leave the child unattended.
- If the child is coughing, allow them to cough. This is the most effective way to dislodge whatever is blocking their windpipe.
- If coughing does not help, lie the baby down with their head below their chest and give five sharp blows in the middle of their back (between their shoulder blades). Be careful with the child but also remember to be firm – you’re trying to dislodge something that is stuck.
- If blows to the back don’t help, lie the baby on their back and give chest thrusts. Using two fingers (or the palm of your hand for an older child), give up to five firm thrusts to the centre of the child’s breastbone.
- If the baby stops breathing, make a tight seal around the baby’s mouth with your mouth and make up to five attempts to blow air gently into their lungs.
- If the baby’s windpipe is still blocked, call (or get a colleague to call) 999 and continue alternating between cycles of back blows and chest thrusts until help arrives.
As upsetting as a situation like this is, it is important to remain as calm as possible to ensure you remember what to do and avoid distressing the child further.
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