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All parents should be prepared for and know what to do immediately when a child chokes. Here are the basics on how to prevent choking and how to help a choking child.
What is choking?
Choking happens when an object becomes stuck in the throat or the windpipe, blocking air flow in and out of the lungs. Choking is a medical emergency, and if complete airway obstruction occurs, choking can lead to death. Anyone can choke, but choking is more common in young children who often explore the world by putting small objects in their mouths.
What to do if your child is choking
Make sure you know the basic rules of first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) for children of different ages.
If your baby or child is coughing forcefully, allow them to continue coughing to clear the foreign object. If they are struggling to cough or talk, you need to take action.
A choking baby should be held face down and given a few firm taps between the shoulder blades to help dislodge the stuck object. Older children will need something more similar to the Heimlich manoeuvre, where you stand behind the child and give quick thrusts to the upper abdomen.
If your child is choking, know what moves you will make to assist, and encourage them to cough. Call emergency services immediately and carry out basic CPR if your child becomes unresponsive, turns blue or stops breathing.
How to prevent choking
Being vigilant as a parent can prevent choking accidents. Choose toys that aren’t a choking hazard, tell your child to try not to talk while eating or drinking and keep small objects away from babies and toddlers. Keep food pieces small, and avoid hard food in young children.
This information is this article is intended for general purposes only. If you have any concerns about your health or the health of your child, you should always consult a healthcare professional.