Choking: The Heimlich
Infants and toddlers can choke on the darndest things. It's always scary. As long as your child is breathing and coughing, just encourage him to cough the material up by himself. The cough reflex can usually clear the windpipe. But if your child stops breathing and can no longer cough or make a sound, it's time for serious first aid. Here are some tips to help you be prepared.
If breathing stops in a child over 1 year of age, give a Heimlich maneuver:
- Grasp your child from behind in a bear hug, just below the lower ribs but above the navel.
- Make a fist with one hand and fold the other hand over it.
- Next give a sudden upward and backward jerk to try to squeeze all the air out of the chest and pop the lodged object out of the windpipe.
- Repeat this upward abdominal thrust 10 times in rapid succession, until the object comes out.
If breathing stops in a child under 1 year of age, give back blows and chest compressions:
- Place him face down at a 60-degree incline over your knees or on your forearm.
- Deliver 5 blows with the heel of your hand between the shoulder blades in rapid succession.
- If breathing has not resumed, lay the child on the floor and apply 5 rapid chest compressions over the lower breast bone. Use 2 fingers to compress.
- Repeat the back blows, then the chest compressions until the object comes out.
If your child passes out, give mouth-to- mouth breathing:
- Quickly open the mouth and look inside to see if there is any object that can be removed with a sweep of your finger (usually there is not).
- Then begin resuscitation. Air can usually be forced past the foreign object temporarily until the rescue squad arrives.
Finally, while you're doing the Heimlich, be sure someone is calling 911 so the paramedics can take over if the Heimlich doesn't work. If you have other questions about choking, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.