It’s every parent’s worst nightmare — an innocent-looking toy, an unassuming household item, or even a perfectly healthy snack can become a deadly choking hazard in the blink of an eye.
Choking remains one of the leading causes of injury and deaths among children under 4 years old. In the U.S., at least one child dies from choking on food every five days.
Not many parents, nannies, or teachers are educated on infant CPR yet shoulder the greatest responsibility of protecting and preserving a young life.
Here’s how to prevent your baby from choking.
Most children choke on food, coins, and toys.
Many of the most hazardous foods are actually good for your baby, making it that much more unintuitive to think they’d pose a threat. But it’s the shape, consistency, and size of the food that makes it dangerous for your tiny tot.
Among these, hot dogs rank as the most dangerous, serving as the “perfect plug” according to Dr. Smith, Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. He said, “It will wedge itself in tightly and completely block the airway, causing the child to die within minutes because of lack of oxygen.”
Other foods include:
- Nuts and seeds.
- Chunks of meat or cheese.
- Whole grapes.
- Hard, gooey, or sticky candy.
- Chunks of peanut butter.
- Raw vegetables.
Be sure to cut up these foods into small pieces no larger than one half-inch to ensure if your child swallows their food whole it won’t get stuck in their throat. You must also supervise your child while they eat as it only takes a few seconds to choke.
If your child is beginning to crawl, you’ll need to watch out for things they can grab from the floor including coins, marbles, pen or marker caps, latex balloons, any miscellaneous items laying around that are small enough to fit in your baby’s mouth.
What to do if your baby is choking.
First off, how can you tell if your baby is choking? Look for these signs.
- Skin has turned blue
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Cough is very weak-sounding
- Makes soft or high-pitched sounds when inhaling
So if your baby is choking the easiest and most important maneuver to remember is back blows and chest thrusts and never ever stick your finger in the child’s mouth or throat — you could further lodge the object into the trachea making the problem much more severe than it is.
The first thing you want to do if place your hand over your baby’s face in a V-shape; this will give you control of the baby and support the tot when you flip her over.
1. Cup your baby’s face in a V-shape.
Next, flip the baby over with one leg and one arm on each side of your arm.
2. Straddle the baby over your arm and perform a forceful downward blow 5 times.
These are “forceful downward blows” not gentle burping pats, according to Lonestar CPR and First Aid Training LLC.
3. Perform 5 gentle upward chest thrusts.
Flip your baby back over and gently perform upward chest thrusts. This will push the object up and out of her throat. Keep your fingers in contact with the baby’s breastbone and your hands parallel to the baby’s chest. The chest thrusts should be smooth, not jerky.
Continue alternating five back blows and five chest thrusts until the object is forced out. If these maneuvers don’t work, call 911 right away!
Watch the informative video below (featuring baby Anniston):