Infant and Child Choking
A helpful guide from The Mama Coach - Alexandra Klenovich
Here’s what you should know
Act Fast. For an infant perform 5 back blows and 5 chest compressions. For a child, you would perform abdominal thrusts.
Choking is when food or an object is stuck in the airway or throat. When the obstruction is severe enough, the infant or child can not breathe, talk, or make sounds. They may have a noiseless cough, change color, or make the universal sign for choking. If this happens you want to act fast.
Home Care Tips for Choking Relieving Techniques
Infant (under one year of age): For an infant with a severe airway obstruction, you will need to perform 5 back slaps and 5 chest compressions to help remove the object.
- Step One: Hold the infant face down on your forearm. Support the infant's head and jaw in your hand.
- Step Two: Give them five back slaps with the heel of your other hand, between the infant’s shoulder blades.
- Step Three: If the object does not come out after five back slaps, then turn the infant over and support their head
- Step Four: Give them five chest compressions, using two fingers of your hand in the center of the chest at the breast bone (just below the infant’s nipple line).
- Step Five: Repeat performing 5 back slaps followed by 5 chest compressions until the infant can breathe OR until they lose consciousness (become unresponsive). Always perform CPR when unresponsive and not breathing normally or only gasping. Please see our Infant and Child CPR Guide (link guide here).
Child (12 months to armpit hair (puberty): For a child with a severe airway obstruction, you need to perform abdominal thrusts.
- Step One: Ask, "Are you choking? May I help you?” If the person then nods yes (gives consent) be sure to talk through what you are doing to them.
- Step Two: Stand firmly or kneel behind them (depending on the size of the person) and wrap your arms around them at waist height.
- Step Three: Make a fist with one hand and place it thumb side towards the person, just above their belly button and WELL BELOW the breastbone. Grasp the fist with your other hand and give a quick inward and upward thrust into their abdomen.
- Step Four: Continue performing these abdominal thrusts until the the child can breathe OR or until the person becomes unresponsive. Always perform CPR on anyone who is unresponsive and not breathing normally or only gasping. Please see our Infant and Child CPR Guide.
If the child is too large for you to wrap your arms around, perform step 1 above and then wrap your arms around the child just under their armpits. Then you will place your hands on the lower half of their breastbone. You will then pull straight back to give chest thrusts and then follow step 4, above.
Please note that anyone receiving abdominal thrusts or chest compressions will need to follow up with a healthcare professional as soon as possible for evaluation.
Learning these choking relieving techniques is something that should be on every parent or caregivers resume. Knowing how and when to respond in an emergency like this and feeling comfortable intervening is a skill to be learned. If you would like more information or are interested in taking an Infant and Child CPR/Choking Class, please reach out to the Brave Care team or Alexandra-The Mama Coach.