Child care: Choking

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The initial step in providing first aid to choking is recognizing that the child has a blocked airway. Since infants and young children are prone to choking, it is vital that you are prepared to handle one.

What are the indications of choking?

Partial airway blockage

Observe for the following which might indicate that the airway of the child is partly blocked:

  • Choking noises
  • Loss of voice
  • Gagging
  • Coughing that becomes worse
    Once a child is choking and you suspect that he/she has a blocked airway, call for emergency assistance right away.
  • Wheezing
  • Sudden chest pain
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Stridor

Complete airway blockage

A child with a fully blocked airway might have any of these indications:

  • Child could not breathe
  • Child could not produce any sounds
  • Skin turns pale or bluish in appearance
  • No air is flowing out of the nose and/or mouth
  • Child loses consciousness quickly

First aid for choking due to airway blockage

Once a child is choking and you suspect that he/she has a blocked airway, call for emergency assistance right away.

For infants below one year, the following should be done:

  • Position the infant facing downwards on your forearm or over the thigh. Always support the head and neck of the infant.
  • If the child is old enough to understand, encourage him/her to cough.

For children over a year old, you have to perform the following:

  • Encourage the child to lean forward.
  • Try to encourage the child to cough while waiting for the emergency team to arrive on the scene.

Once the medical team arrives on the scene, further assessment and proper care can be carried out to help the child.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on choking is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage a choking episode among children by taking a standard first aid course with Mississauga First Aid.

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