Choking & CPR In Infants – First Aid and More

Choking & CPR In Infants - First Aid and More

Children are always out and about exploring and therefore chances of an accident occurring can be quite high. Choking and gagging are some of the common mishaps that infants are prone to. It is important to understand that choking is different from gagging by a few parameters. During gagging, a baby’s airways are partially blocked, making it difficult to breathe or cough whereas choking occurs when the airways are fully blocked because of which a baby becomes unable to breathe at all. Under both these conditions, a baby will not be able to breathe, cry, speak or cough freely.


If a baby is coughing effectively when choking, it is best to let the coughing continue as it will help clear the airway. Knowing first aid and effective ways to quickly clear a blocked airway can save a baby’s life.


First Aid for a Baby Who is Choking

Infants and babies are sensitive and prone to incidents such as choking. This is why they need to be handled with care at all times. As a parent or guardian, there are certain questions to which you MUST know the answer to, like what to do if a baby chokes?

Food is a common choking hazard as children at this stage might not be able to chew their food well and therefore swallow it as a whole instead. It is important to understand the symptoms of choking so that the child can be given an immediate and effective first aid.

How to Know if a Baby is Choking?

The following symptoms in a baby can be characteristics of choking:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Skin colour turns bluish
  • Loss of consciousness due to wind pipe blockage
  • High-pitched sounds while inhaling
  • Inability to make any sound or cry uninterrupted
  • Hindrance in coughing

How to Stop Your Baby from Choking?

Acting spontaneously is of utmost importance to prevent a choking baby from severe harm. Here are a few important steps to follow if a baby chokes.

1. Analyse the Situation Quickly

If a baby is not able to breathe, cough or cry, it might be because something is blocking his airway. There are several symptoms which will help in identifying whether a baby is choking. A quick analysis of the situation will aid in saving the baby.

2. Clearing the Blockage

If the baby is showing symptoms of choking, use one finger to lift the chin and take a look into their mouth and nose to remove any visible blockage or obstruction. If a baby is coughing, allow him to cough until the obstruction comes out. Do not pat the back while a baby coughs as this will allow the obstruction to slip further inside.

Checking blockage

3. Give Five Chest Thrusts

If the obstruction does not come out and the child is not able to breathe, chest thrusts might help. Chest thrusts are given by placing two fingertips on the breastbone in the center of the chest and pushing inwards and upwards against the breastbone. Do not give all five thrusts immediately but try to dislodge the obstruction with each thrust. After each thrust, check the baby’s mouth and proceed for the next one if the obstruction is still not out.

What is CPR?

CPR or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation is a life-saving procedure which is performed when a person’s heartbeat or breathing stops and they show no signs of life. CPR involves forceful rescue breathing that provides oxygen to the lungs. The procedure also involves chest compressions which help with the blood flow.

These procedures should continue until the child recovers or medical aid arrives, as lack of oxygen or stoppage of blood flow can result in permanent damage to the child. CPR for infants should ideally be done by someone who is trained with a CPR accredited course, but this can be done by parents too. Therefore it is imperative to know the techniques in order to stay fully equipped in case a situation demands this to be performed.

CPR Procedure is Done Due to Following Reasons

As discussed, CPR is performed when the body shows no sign of life, i.e., there is no breathing or the heart has stopped beating. CPR procedure should be performed when all other methods of reviving a child fail. A CPR is done to restore blood circulation and flow of oxygen in a child who has had cardiac arrest or suffers from choking, suffocation, shock, serious injury and other severe accidents.

CPR Should Be Done for Following Symptoms

A CPR procedure should be performed on a child if any of the following symptoms are noted:

  • When there is no breathing.
  • If the child has no pulse.
  • If the child is unconscious.

How to Perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation or Mouth to Mouth Resuscitation in Babies

In case of an emergency, it is appropriate to call the ambulance at the earliest. If you are alone with the baby with causality, then knowing how to give a baby CPR could prove to be the difference. Perform CPR for a minute and then call for the ambulance and repeat the procedure until an ambulance arrives. Following are the steps to be followed to give a baby CPR.

1. Analyse the Problem Quickly

Identify the problem by noticing the symptoms mentioned above. If the baby is not conscious, try to get a response by gently tapping the sole of the foot and by calling out his name. If the baby is unconscious and has trouble breathing, then open the airway and check his pulse and give rescue breaths.

checking for signs of breathing in infant

2. Open the Airway and Check the Pulse

Look and listen for normal breathing by kneeling at a right angle to the baby’s chest. Push down the forehead and tilt the head back and lift the chin with one hand to look for and remove any obstruction in mouth and nose. Check for the pulse on the inside of the elbow by using your middle and index finger. If there is no pulse or the baby is not breathing then perform CPR and call for an ambulance.

Checking pulse rate of the infant

3. Give Five Rescue Breaths

Follow these steps to give rescue breaths to the baby:

  • Open the baby’s airway and ensure that it is clear.
  • Seal your lips around baby’s nose and lips and blow steadily into baby’s lungs and see it rise as you breathe in.
  • Once the chest rises, allow it to fall by not blowing.
  • Repeat this process five times.

Giving rescue breaths to the infant

4. Give 30 Chest Compressions

  • Place the baby on a firm surface and find the center of the baby’s chest.
  • Find the middle point between the nipples and measure one finger below that point and position two fingers on that point.
  • Press down to a third of the depth of the chest and press 30 times at the rate of 100 compressions per minute.
  • Give two rescue breaths after 30 compressions and continue this process until help arrives.

Giving chest compression to a infant

Don’t Do These Things While Performing CPR

There are precautions which you need to take while doing CPR:

  • Do not start the CPR process if the child has signs of normal breathing, movement or coughing as doing so may cause the heart to stop beating.
  • If you are not trained to perform a CPR or do not have a basic understanding of how to perform a CPR, seek professional help immediately and do not attempt to give CPR by yourself.
  • If the child has a spinal injury, do not move the head or neck while pulling the jaw forward and do not let the mouth close.

Tips to Prevent Choking in Children

Most accidents which require CPR are preventable if suitable preventive precautions are taken. The following tips can prevent some choking accidents among children:

  • Ensure that you offer mashed or pureed food to your baby when you start them on solids up until they begin teething and are able to consume finger foods.
  • Avoid using teething medication as it may numb the baby’s throat and make swallowing difficult.
  • When babies start eating solid foods, ensure they are sitting up for their meals.
  • Make sure all vegetables are soft-cooked.
  • Finger food should be cut into small pieces.
  • Encourage the child to eat slowly and chew well.
  • Choose snacks which are easy to swallow.
  • Keep small objects like buttons and seeds out of reach.
  • Make sure your baby does not play with baby powder, as it can clog the airways.
  • Above all, keep and eye on your child, especially when they are eating as they may not be able to alert you if they are choking.

These and many other precautions will help reduce the chances of a mishap with the kid which will require urgent medical attention.

When to Contact Medical Help

In case of emergency, it is best to call for medical help without delay. If your child suffers from a fatal accident, call for medical help immediately and then continue giving the first aid while the team of professionals arrive.