Seeing your beloved baby struggling to breathe while choking is as frightening as an experience you can have. It might not be so obvious right away but when it sinks in, it is time to act. The last thing you need to be doing is googling ‘what to do if your baby is choking?’.
Some babies choke while breast feeding, this is not the serious situation but steps can be taken to prevent it. The more serious form of choking is the blockage of the airway by a solid mass, coins (most common), food, toys, etc. Water intake by going under in the tub or a pool. Strangulation from getting caught it drawstrings or curtain cords.
This will be a basic guide for infants up to 12 months. Do not use this as your sole source of information. Take some time to take an infant and child CPR course to learn and practice proper techniques. Check the Red Cross Website to find a class in your area.
Choking While Breast Feeding
Once again, baby choking while breast feeding isn’t as serious, but its worth talking about because no mother wants to see their little one choke ever. The most common reason for the choking is excessive ‘overactive let down’, or an over flow of milk.
Most babies will experience choking while breast feeding to a certain degree, once, twice, maybe a handful of times. But if this is a regular occurrence there are steps that can be taken for prevention.
A couple of steps can be taken to prevent this kind of choking. Babies that lie flat are more susceptible, so simply positioning the babies head slightly higher than the nipple (uphill nursing) may fix this problem.
If the excessive let down is the problem, a little bit of expressing or pumping first can reduce the pressure. You may also want to try allowing less time between feedings or place a cold compress over the breasts after feeding to slow milk production.
First you will need to assess the situation. If your baby is gagging or coughing its a partial blockage of the airway. Let the baby cough as it is the most effective way to dislodge the blockage. If the blocking object is visible and easily swept out with a finger, proceed. If your not sure, don’t sweep as you may lodge the object deeper.
Call 911 if…
If your baby is unable to cough or cry the airway is blocked. When your baby opens its mouth and makes odd noises or none at all, or its skin color turns blue or red, have someone if available, or yourself call 911 while you proceed with back blows and chest thrusts (see below).
If you believe your baby’s throat has closed from an allergic reaction to food or an insect bite etc. call 911. If you see your baby suddenly collapse or is high risk for heart problems call 911.
While waiting for 911. If your baby’s airway is blocked but is still conscious, and can’t cry, cough or breathe:
- Put your baby face down, baby’s face in your palm, baby’s torso over your forearm, baby’s head lower than its torso, your forearm on your lap.
- Using your free hand, with the heel of your that hand give 5 quick thumps between the shoulder blades.
- If your baby still can’t breathe…
While still holding your baby:
- Turn your baby face up, keep the head lower than the torso.
- Using 2-3 fingers, place in the middle of the chest and give 5 quick thrusts.
- Repeat with back blows and chest thrusts until the object is visible and can be removed.
- Remember never do a sweep unless you can see the object!
Baby is Unresponsive…
Bring the baby to the floor and perform CPR. After each set of compressions check the baby’s mouth for an object. Again never sweep for and object unless you see it, your at risk of lodging the object deeper.
Continue the sequence until the object is dislodged or help has arrived.
Before Giving the Baby CPR
According to the Red Cross Infant CPR Guide perform these steps:
- Flick the infants bottom of foot to illicit a response.
- If the child does not respond ask a bystander to call 911.
- If your alone administer 2 minutes of care and call 911.
- Report to 911 any life threatening conditions and receive consent to give care.
- Check the baby head to toe and ask questions to find out what happened.
- Open the airway. With the baby laying on its back slightly tilt the head back and lift the chin.
- For no more than 10 seconds listen carefully for breathing. (Occasional gasps aren’t breathing)
- With the head tilted back, and chin elevated, seal your mouth around the baby’s nose and mouth.
- Blow in for one second to make the baby’s chest clearly rise. Then deliver two rescue breaths.
- If the baby is unresponsive to the rescue breaths perform CPR.
- Kneel beside the baby
- With two fingers deliver 30 quick compressions to the center of the chest about 1.5 inches deep.
- Push hard and fast.
- Give two rescue breaths.
- Continue these baby CPR steps until you see obvious signs of life or a first responded has arrived to take over.
Red Cross Infant CPR
One thing we can be assured, Babies have very control. We as parents can do things to lower the probability of choking. We can make sure we cut food portions small so our babies can manage them. We can keep the areas the baby roams clean as possible. But were not perfect and can’t control every possible situation. Things happen!
What we can do is prepare ourselves in the event the unimaginable happens and we have a serious problem on our hands. I myself have taken the infant CPR course so I’m happy to have that knowledge. With what’s at stake I highly recommend you all do too.
As always please ask questions and share experiences in the comment box below.