No one wants to be in the situation of having to save an infant’s life, but it could happen. Infants can and do choke, usually caused by breathing in a small object they accidentally placed in their mouth, such as a coin, small toys, and buttons.
Anyone with a baby or who works with them should know the risk of complete airway obstruction and be prepared for any emergency, even if you never have to use it. Thus, learning how to perform infant CPR is necessary.
What can a baby choke on?
Infants can choke on things like curdled milk or vomit. As they grow into a toddler, they explore by putting things into their mouth, which can quickly get stuck in their throat. This may stop them from normal breathing, resulting to complete airway obstruction. Sometimes, these objects can get into the trachea and may cause severe airway obstruction. If a foreign body blocks the airflow and the brain is deprived of oxygen, choking can become a life-threatening emergency.
Signs of Infant Choking
- Inability to cry or make much sound
- Weak, ineffective coughing
- Soft or high-pitched sounds while inhaling
- Difficulty breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Grabbing their throat or waving arms
- Loss of consciousness if the blockage is not cleared
How to treat an Infant Choking?
Abdominal thrusts and blind finger sweeps are not recommended for infants because they may damage their liver. Instead, here are ways how to treat choking victims:
Assess the situation quickly
The airway is only partially blocked if an infant is coughing or gagging. Let the infant continue coughing because coughing is the most effective way to dislodge a foreign body airway obstruction. However, if an infant cannot cry or cough, you’ll need to help her get it out.
Call the local emergency number if the infant isn’t able to cough up the object. If you’re alone with an infant, give two minutes of medical care, then call 911. If you’re with someone, ask them to call 911 while you begin back blows and chest thrusts.
Dislodge the obstruction with back blows and chest thrusts
If an infant is conscious but can’t cough, cry, or breathe, perform back blows by positioning the infant face-up on one forearm, cradling the back of his head with that hand.
- Sandwiched the baby between your forearms by placing your other hand and forearm on his front.
- Then use your thumb and fingers to hold his jaw and turn him over so he’s facedown along your forearm. Again, the head must be lower than his chest.
- Deliver five firm and distinct back blows to try to dislodge the object. If the thing does not come out, then do chest thrusts.
To do a chest thrust:
- Place the pads of two or three fingers in the center of the infant’s chest, between the nipples.
- Push down on the chest about 1 1/2 inches.
- Allow the infant’s chest to come back to its normal position.
- Do five chest thrusts smoothly.
Repeat doing five back blows and five chest thrusts until the obstruction is removed or when the infant starts to cough forcefully, breathe or become unresponsive.
What to do if an infant becomes unresponsive?
If a choking infant becomes unconscious, lay the victim on a flat surface and start Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. The 911 operator or emergency medical personnel may instruct you to do CPR over the phone until they arrive.
The goal of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation isn’t necessarily to bring the infant back to consciousness. Instead, it will keep the blood and oxygen circulating in their vital organs and brain. CPR includes 30 chest compressions and 2 rescue breaths or effective ventilations. To do this:
- Place two fingers on the infant’s breastbone.
- Next, compresses the infant’s chest about one-third at a rate of around 100 to 120 compressions per minute.
- Tilt the infant’s head and lift the chin to open the airway to give rescue breaths.
- Give two effective ventilations by making a seal around the infant’s mouth and nose. Then, blow each breath in for one full second and watch for chest rise.
- Continue the steps until the infant revives or when the emergency medical services team arrives.
When giving first aid to an infant choking, Never put your finger in their mouth unless you see a blockage. If you can’t see it and put your finger in an infant’s mouth, you might accidentally push the blockage deeper into their throat.
How to Prevent Choking on Infants?
All infants and younger children are at risk of choking, but toddlers are especially at risk because they tend to put things in their mouths and have smaller airways that are easily blocked. Here are the tips on how to prevent choking on infants
- Do not let infants play with small parts or toys they could easily swallow.
- Do not let infants crawl, walk, or run while eating.
- Keep poisonous items out of reach.
- Do not leave infants alone around water.
- Do not leave infants alone on furniture or in strollers where they could fall.
- Never tie clothing, jewelry, or toys around an infant’s neck or wrists.
Infant CPR Choking Class
CPR/AED, First Aid, and Basic Life Support courses equip you with the knowledge necessary to recognize and care for choking, cardiac arrest, and other emergencies involving children and infants. You’ll also learn to recognize the difference between gasping and normal breathing and adequately use an Automated External Defibrillator. Whether you need to refresh your lifesaving skills or know from scratch, it’s easier than ever to find an infant CPR class online. Institutions like the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, and other CPR training providers offer easy-to-take online CPR courses, an automated external defibrillator, and basic first aid.
If an infant is choking, let them cough up the object if possible. If you can see a foreign body, remove it with your little finger. But if not, call 911 and do back blows and chest thrusts. Call 911 and administer CPR if the infant becomes unconscious until emergency help arrives.
- If a foreign body blocks the airflow and the brain is deprived of oxygen, choking can become a life-threatening emergency.
- Abdominal thrusts and blind finger sweeps are not recommended for infants.
- Coughing is the most effective way to dislodge a foreign body airway obstruction.
- When doing chest thrusts, allow the infant’s chest to return to its normal position.
- CPR includes 30 chest compressions and 2 rescue breaths.
- CPR courses equip you with the knowledge to recognize choking, cardiac arrest, and other emergencies involving children and infants.
- Institutions like the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, and other CPR training providers offer easy-to-take online CPR courses.