What to Do When Your Child is Choking: A Quick Guide for Parents



Choking can be a frightening experience, especially when it happens to your child. Knowing how to respond quickly and effectively can make all the difference in such a situation. In this article, we will provide parents with a clear guide on what to do when your child is choking.

Recognizing the Signs of Choking:

The first step in dealing with a choking child is to recognize the signs. Common signs of choking include:

  1. Difficulty breathing or noisy breathing.
  2. Coughing that is weak, ineffective, or absent.
  3. Bluish or pale skin, particularly around the lips or fingertips.
  4. Clutching the throat or chest.
  5. Inability to speak or cry.
  6. Panic or distress in the child’s facial expression.

Immediate Actions to Take:

  1. Stay Calm: It’s crucial to remain as calm as possible to assess the situation and take effective action.
  2. Ask, “Are You Choking?”: If your child is old enough to communicate, ask them if they are choking. They may nod or have trouble responding, but this can help confirm the situation.
  3. Perform Back Blows: For infants under one year old:
    • Hold your baby face down on your forearm, supporting their head and neck with your hand.
    • Deliver up to five back blows between their shoulder blades using the heel of your hand.
    • Check the mouth for the obstructing object after each blow and remove it if visible.
  4. Perform Abdominal Thrusts (Heimlich Maneuver): For children over one year old:
    • Stand behind your child and place your arms around their waist.
    • Make a fist with one hand and position it above the navel but below the ribcage.
    • Grasp your fist with your other hand and give quick, upward thrusts.
    • Continue until the object is expelled or your child can breathe.
  5. Call Emergency Services: If the choking persists or if your child becomes unconscious, call emergency services immediately.
  6. CPR: If your child loses consciousness, begin CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) while awaiting medical help.

Preventing Choking:

Prevention is key when it comes to child choking incidents. Here are some steps to reduce the risk:

  1. Supervise Meals: Always supervise young children while they eat. Avoid distractions like TV or electronic devices during mealtime.
  2. Cut Food into Small Pieces: Ensure that food is cut into small, manageable pieces for young children.
  3. Avoid Small Objects: Keep small objects, toys, and items that can be a choking hazard out of reach.
  4. Teach Chewing: Teach your child to chew their food thoroughly before swallowing.
  5. CPR Training: Consider taking a CPR and first-aid course to be prepared for emergencies.


Knowing what to do when your child is choking can be a lifesaving skill for parents. Stay informed, remain calm, and take immediate action if you suspect your child is choking. It’s also essential to focus on prevention to create a safe eating environment for your child. Remember, in any emergency, seek professional medical help as soon as possible.

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