Infant choking

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Choking is considered as a common cause of injury and death among young children due to their small airways that are easily obstructed. Babies will take time to fully master the ability to chew and swallow food and they could not forcefully cough to remove obstructions. Due to the curious nature of babies, they usually put objects into their mouths that can lead to infant choking.

Common cause of infant choking

Understandably, food is the common cause of infant choking. Nevertheless, small parts from toys, small objects and certain behavior while eating can also cause infant choking.

Infant choking-first aid
Babies and toddlers are prone to infant choking


How to prevent infant choking?

There are steps in order to prevent infant choking among young children.

  • Proper introduction of solid foods is when the baby is at least 4 months old. Feeding solid foods before the child has motor skills to swallow will lead to infant choking.
  • Avoid offering high-risk foods such as chunks of meat or cheese, hotdogs, raw vegetables and fruit chunks unless sliced in small pieces. Do not give hard foods such as nuts, seeds, hard candy and popcorn.
  • Always supervise mealtime by setting certain rules. It is best to avoid playing, running or walking around while eating. Remind the child to properly chew and swallow food before talking. Do not allow the child to throw food and catch it using his/her mouth.
  • Assess the toys carefully. Do not provide babies or toddlers with balloons made out of latex since they are dangerous if broken or in not inflated. Other toys that should not be given include marbles, small balls, toys with small parts and toys for older children. Always check the age guidelines when buying toys and regularly check to ensure that the toys are in good condition.
  • Keep dangerous objects out of reach since even commonly used household products can pose as a choking hazard. It includes coins, button batteries and marker or pen caps.

What to do if a baby chokes?

Once a baby is choking, avoid using the finger sweep method since it will only lodge the obstruction deeper down the airway. The initial step is to hold the baby in a face down position on one of your forearms. The head of the baby should be lower than his/her body. Deliver a firm thump on middle of the back using the heel of your other hand. The combination of the gravity and the force from your hand will help remove the obstruction that blocks the airway. In case you are concerned about the breathing of the baby, it is best to call for emergency assistance right away.

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If you want to be fully equipped in case of a crisis such as infant choking, it is best to attend a course on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid applicable for children so that you know the appropriate steps.

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