Learn what to do if your infant is choking

One of the main reasons parents can be nervous about their child starting solids is the threat of choking. We’ve worked with St John SA to bring you this information and demonstration.

Signs an infant is choking

Be on alert for infants who display signs and symptoms of choking such as:

  • Blue lips, face or earlobes
  • Gagging or coughing
  • Making a whistling noise, or no sound at all
  • Difficulty in swallowing, speaking or breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

If any of these symptoms occur, call 000 for an ambulance immediately. Stay on the phone, using the speaker function so you can hear the operator while having both hands free to help.

Deliver back blows

The first step in trying to dislodge the choking cause is to place the infant in the recovery position.

The recovery position supports the infant’s head by placing your thumb and forefingers around their jaw and lying the infant on their tummy along your forearm, with their inner leg in the crook of your elbow. Gently roll the infant over your arm, supporting the head and keeping it angled down.

Use the heel of your free hand to deliver up to 5 sharp blows to the back, between the shoulders. Between each blow, check if the blockage has been cleared by sweeping your little finger through the infant’s mouth.

Perform chest thrusts

If the blockage hasn’t been removed after 5 back blows, place the infant on their back on a firm surface. Place two fingers on the lower half of the infant’s sternum and press firmly, in a short, sharp thrust movement. Deliver up to 5 chest thrusts, checking if the blockage has been cleared after each thrust. Support the infant’s head, so their nose points straight up towards the sky, with your other hand.

If the blockage has still not been removed after 5 thrusts, continue alternating between 5 back blows and 5 chest thrusts until medical aid arrives. If the infant becomes unconscious, start CPR.

Help is on hand

Don’t forget, in an emergency the 000 operator will stay on the call with you to help you stay calm and explain what needs to be done.

15% off first aid training with St John SA

Members get 15% off select St John SA public first aid training courses.

Learn more

Posted: Sep 20 2022


The information contained here is of a general nature and does not take into account your personal medical situation. The information is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or used for therapeutic purposes. Should you require specific medical information, please seek advice from your healthcare practitioner. Health Partners does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them.

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