How to help a choking child

This post is a little left wing for me, as in, it’s not my usual topic. However, it is vitally important and something I have seen and heard happening to little ones more & more, lately. From children choking on grapes, {which should always be cut in half} to bouncy balls. Yes, one of those innocent rubber balls that you would find in your child’s party bag. These little rubber balls of fun have now been permanently barred from our home.

Thankfully, I have never been in a position where my child has been choking. However, my Dad told me a story and it seems I used to be ‘that’ child. If my Dad wasn’t a trained army medic, I doubt I would have been here today. But thanks to his quick thinking {and lifting me by the ankles and striking the spot between my shoulder blades} I am here to tell the tale. 

Do you know the steps to take if your child is choking? I know maybe, two ways? But what if those two ways aren’t successful – what could I try next? Having a search on google isn’t an option when your child is lying there going blue, time is of the essence and requires quick thinking. So it is vital that everyone knows the steps to help a choking child. 

How to help a choking child

Children love to explore, don’t they? From the moment they can crawl they are finding little things to put into their mouths. Typically between the ages of one to five, small objects from around the home are hidden away {to the best of our abilities!}. Small objects like Lego, batteries, marbles and even buttons become our mortal enemies. Tiny and innocent looking, but in the mouth of a child, it becomes a very different story. 

How to help a choking child under one year

If you find your baby choking, and I know it’s hard, but try to not panic. Yes, it’s terrifying, but you need a calm head to focus and think what you can do to help your baby. 

  • Hold your baby face-down along your thigh, their head needs to be lower than their bottom.
  • Give them five back blows – which is a strike between their shoulder blades up to five times. 

These back blows cause a vibration and pressure in the airway, which can aid in dislodging a stuck object. These back blows are often enough to dislodge the culprit, allowing your child to breathe again. However, if this is not the case and after the five back blows, your baby is still choking, try the following;

  • Turn your baby over so they are facing upwards. 
  • Place two fingers into the middle of their chest, just below their nipples.
  • Push sharply downwards up to five times. These are called ‘Chest Thrusts’.

Chest thrusts squeeze the air out of your baby’s lungs and may dislodge the object that is blocking their airway. Obviously, if the object is still blocking your child’s airway, call 999. While the ambulance is en route you can continue with back blows then chest thrusts, and repeat until the object dislodges, your baby becomes unresponsive or the paramedics arrive. 

What not to do with a choking baby

You must never do the following when your baby is found choking;

  • Attempt to dislodge the object with your fingers. You could cause more harm and you could even push the object further down their airway.
  • Perform abdominal thrusts, i.e. The Heimlich manoeuvre – this could cause damage to their internal organs. 

How to help a choking child over one year

With a child over one year, you can administer the same back blows {five times} as you would for a child under one year. You can do this by placing them in a forward-leaning position to administer the back blows. Or, if they are still small, place them over your lap like you would for a baby.

However, if the back blows have not been successful to clear the blockage, then you can perform abdominal thrusts i.e. The Heimlich Manoeuvre. 

  • Stand or kneel behind your child. Place your arms underneath your child’s arms and around their upper abdomen.
  • Place a clenched fist between the naval and the ribs.
  • Place your other hand firmly over your clenched fist and pull sharply inwards and upwards.
  • Repeat this five times.

A choking child is a parent’s worst nightmare and through researching what to do to help a choking child, I have learned something new and I truly hope this post has helped you too.




  1. 11/04/2018 / 4:40 PM

    This is SUCH an important post. It’s these little things that make a huge different. My baby choking was one of the biggest fear factors of being a new parent. Great post. x

  2. 11/04/2018 / 5:08 PM

    Choking used to be one of the biggest fears I had for my children – this is such important information for all parents to have. x

  3. 12/04/2018 / 11:30 AM

    I can remember watching my brother choke when I was younger and it was terrifying. Luckily, he was okay!

  4. 12/04/2018 / 9:15 PM

    These steps are so important to know especially when there are so many cases of kids getting chocked with their food now.

  5. 16/04/2018 / 7:51 PM

    Such an important thing for all parents to know, well, everyone really. It should be something offered as part of ante-natal appointments

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